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Monday, April 4, 2011

GUEST AUTHOR: Christina Phillips

Fellow Berkley author, Christina Phillips, joins me today to share her love for ancient historical romance.

Let's begin by finding out a little bit about her...

Christina Phillips has always loved writing, and while her efforts in eighth grade usually involved space ships, time travel and unfortunate endings, as soon as she discovered romance novels a whole new world opened up.

She now writes ancient historical romances about strong heroines and gorgeous warrior heroes who, no matter how torturous the journey, are guaranteed a happy-ever-after. Christina was born in the United Kingdom, but now lives in sunny Western Australia with her real-life hero and their three children.

Christina is represented by Emmanuelle Morgen of Judith Ehlrich Literary Management.

Christina, welcome back to my blog (she visited last August)!

It's great to have you here and I'm looking forward to hearing more about CAPTIVE! It's a great book (I read it in a day!)
So, tell us when did you start to write and how long did it take you to be published?At school I loved nothing better than to write tragic stories that involved time travel to ancient Rome or the fascinating Pharaohs in Egypt, but it never occurred to me to write a historical romance with the aim of publication.

And so for ten years, after moving to Australia from the UK at the end of 1998, I wrote contemporary romances, first aimed at Harlequin Mills and Boon—where I received huge encouragement and revision requests from editors but never the elusive contract—and then, when I realized my secondary characters were desperate for more page-time, single title.

But although, once again, I received positive feedback from agents something was still missing. As an experiment (and because my awesome CPs insisted!!) I wrote a dark paranormal erotic romance.

Within a week of submitting it to The Wild Rose Press I was offered a contract. This boosted my self-confidence no end, and after my second novelette was accepted by them a sexy Roman Centurion marched into my imagination and refused to leave.

At first I thought this was the idea for my third novelette but within days realized I was totally wrong about that! And so I wrote FORBIDDEN, a full length erotic ancient historical romance with a fantasy element and despite the setting, the time period (AD 50) and the protagonists (Roman and Druids) it hooked my agent’s interest and three months later sold to Berkley Heat.

Are you a panster or plotter? Is it your characters or your plot that influence you most? What's your writing process from start to finish when writing a book?
Before I start writing I spend time thinking about and getting to know my hero and heroine’s background. I don’t discover everything about them before I start their book but I need to know the major events that have occurred in their lives before they reached this point.

I also have a vague road map in mind—a few crucial turning points in the plot of the story but I rarely have any idea how my hero and heroine will a) reach those turning points or b) how on earth they’ll resolve them when they do.

So as far that goes, I wing it. I can’t write out of sequence, either, since my characters dictate exactly how events unfold, and until each scene is done I’m not at all sure what’s going to happen next. This means that often my original vision of what’s going to happen changes, but since my characters drive the plot I’ve come to expect that.

I also edit and polish as I go. I’ve tried writing other ways but they don’t work for me, so I now accept that if a single sentence takes me twenty minutes to write before I’m happy with it, then that’s just the way it is!

Can you tell us about CAPTIVE, your new release?
CAPTIVE is my second ancient historical romance set in my Roman/Druid world, and begins six months after FORBIDDEN ends.

The heroine, Morwyn, is not only recovering from the realization that the man she once loved brutally betrayed his own people, but has also turned her back on her Druidic heritage. She sets off to join the rebels fighting the Roman invaders but is ambushed and captured by a tough Gaul mercenary.

The hero, Bren, is haunted by his violent past and far from being Morwyn’s bitterest enemy as she imagines, has been undercover in the Roman Legions for the last three years. The problem is he can’t tell Morwyn the truth, because the truth could get them both killed.

What’s the most unusual book you've read that’s made a lasting impression on you?
Jean M Auel’s CLAN OF THE CAVE BEAR. I first read it when I was a teenager and it completely blew me away. I love the world building and even to this day I find it hard to convince myself that Neanderthals weren’t driven to extinction because of the way their brains had to adapt in order to accommodate new ideas.

Do you have a pet that keeps you company when you write? If so, write about him or her. Has your pet taught you anything about writing? If so, what?
I often baby(kitty)-sit my daughter’s two kittens. They are completely adorable and very distracting! They’ll often wander into my study when I’m working and either knock over all my photo frames or play tag with each other with anything they can find. Then they might decide to have a nap on my desk, stretched out over my notes and diary. I feel very mean when I have to wriggle out bits of paper from underneath them and disturb them!

Christina, thank you for joining me today. I learn a little bit more about you or your books every time you visit. Now for some extra fun!

Christina has a give-away of CAPTIVE (for locals - Australia only) or a $10 Amazon gift card (for everyone else). If you'd like to go into the draw for the give-away, share with us something about your pet by 12 noon (AEST), Friday 8th April 2011.

Christina's other books:

If you'd like to know more about Christina, she has a website and blog or you can follow her on Facebook.


  1. Hi Christina and Kylie
    I really enjoyed reading about your journey, Christina. It is inspiring to hear that we all can get the "call". It is just a matter of finding our niche!
    I have two beautiful white cats who give me lots of joy. They are very good for writer's block moments. Sit down and have a cuddle with them, look into those beautiful eyes and the imagination always gets going again for me!

  2. Hi Christina, congratulations on the release of CAPTIVE! Thanks for sharing your journey.

    Hello Kylie, thanks for introducing us to Christina and her books!
    And also thanks for coming by my blog and checking out one of the LoveCat from LoveCat DownUnder, Anna Hackett and her book!

  3. Hi Christina

    Mention Druids and I'm there (meaning I have to have the book!)Love the whole philosophy. :)

    I've recently been owned by a cat. After thirty years of dogs, pets and greyhounds, it's a very different experience. I'm not sure about this whole thing about cats being standoffish. Mine likes to be involved in everything that's going on and makes sure he's in the house when we're in and out when we are (although that doesn't always happen because of the greyhounds.
    He's certainly taken hubby and I over, that's for sure. :) But despite the extra juggling to keep all separated, he's a gorgeous addition to our lives.

  4. Hi Christina (and Kylie),
    It is great to find out how you write and how you came to write ancient historical romances.
    I have an aristocatic Russian Blue and a slightly insane Border Collie. The cat looks like she should be aloof but in fact is a cuddle additct and chases me around the house in the morning until I relent and give her a hug. Sometimes she pulls herself up my leg to help herself (not so comfortable when you aren't wearing jeans). The dog has decided that his job is to keep the kids in the pool, that is, when he isnt rounding up that pesky cat.
    They give us a laugh if nothing else.

  5. Hi Annie, I'm glad you found my journey inspiring, I always love finding out about others' roads to publication. Your cats sound completely gorgeous! Cats eyes are hypnotic, I think :-)

  6. Hi Nas, thanks so much for the congratulations!

  7. Hi Rosalie, I had so much fun exploring the world of my Druids! I love your cat! Ours are the same, very cuddly and friendly (when it suits them!)Even my husband, who is not a cat person, is completely enchanted by them (not that he would ever admit it!)

  8. Hi Peta! Haha, your Russian Blue sounds adorable - our littliest one (she was the runt of the litter bless her) is like that, and she meows up at us until we give her her early morning cuddles. And mid morning cuddles, and lunchtime cuddles... lol!

  9. Annie, are you white cats inside cats? I knew a HUGE white cat named Caesar once whose owner put sunscreen on his nose and ears because he was prone to sun cancers with that delicate skn on his.Got to the point where he used to come up to her and hint it was time to put it on because he wanted to go outside but knew he wasn't allowed to venture forth without it. Cute!

  10. Hey, Nas, always a pleasure to see you drop in! :-)

  11. Rosalie, sounds like you have real fun and games at your house with a cat and the greyhounds!

  12. Peta, your Border Collie is only slightly insane? I thought they were predisposed to being totally insane! LOL Our family had a couple - Ben and Jethro - and unfortunately being house pets they were completely untrained but the instinct to herd was there.

    I can remember Ben "helping" dad herd the cattle one day. He and a friend with a couple of Blue Heelers were pushing the cattle towards the yard when Ben raced around, stood in the gateway and barked at them. He split the herd and they disappeared in two different directions across the paddock.

    Ben stood there panting, tongue lolling out with the expression on his face as if to ask "Did I do good, huh?" Of course, dad cussed him because it'd taken thebetter part of an hour to get the herd to that point. Ben spent the rest of the day tied up on the verandah and his career as a cattle dog was short lived. LOL

  13. Hi, Christina! :-)
    I don't have a pet at the moment, but I used to have a cat that did the funniest thing.... Whenever another cat would come near her, she would rear back onto her back legs, lift her front paws infront of her face, and make the most hilarious don't-get-near-me noise. I called her Karate Cat, haha ;-)

  14. Chelsea - the mental image of this gave me a giggle, thanks for sharing.

  15. Hi, Kylie and Christina!

    Gotta love those insistent CPs for pushing you in the right direction! I also love what you said about accepting your writing process. It's always good to experiment till you find your own way.

    Please give the kitties an extra hug for me!

  16. Kylie, that is so cute about your friend's white cat knowing he needed to put sunscreen on!! I can just imagine it :-)

  17. Hi Chelsea! OMG that's so funny about your Karate Cat!! Actually today our little dog had her fur cut, and when she came back home Ava fluffed herself up into a puffball and hissed like a snake! It was hysterical! Usually they all get along really well together!

  18. Hi Vanessa! Well you know how much my CPs like using that fluffy whip!!! But joking aside, they really are the best :-) Not sure I would have tried writing erotic romance without their support!

    I will certainly give the kitties an extra hug from you!!

  19. Vanessa, it's impossible to stop at giving kittens just one hug! I suspect Christina will give them at least a dozen. Each. LOL

  20. Great interview ladies. Just wanted to come along and say hi *waving*. No need to put me in the giveaway draw as I already have a copy :)

  21. Hi Eleni! Thanks for popping by! :-)

  22. Hi Christina and Kylie!
    What is it about cats, I love mine, even spoke to RSPCA about being a carer (long story) but yes, they definately help the muse.
    And Christina, looking forward to reading your book!

  23. Eleni, thanks for coming by to say hi.

    Mel, I think cats might be genetically predisposed to pairing themselves with writers.

    They're independent enough to withstand being ignored for hours, they care for themselves, they can amuse themselves and most times they even manage to feed themselves (if you let them outside to catch mice).

    Sometimes they might even share their stunning intellect by tromping across your keyboard and adding their brilliance to your current WIP! You just have to decipher their secret code. :-)

  24. Hi Mel! I find it very calming and de-stressing to sit and cuddle the kittens (even though I'm the only one who still calls them kittens they are so big now - but still not quite 5 months old!!) Good for you on becoming a carer for the RSPCA. That's wonderful, although I don't think I'd want to give them back at the end of the fostering session :-)

  25. Kylie, I think that's exactly right. Cats don't mind being ignored for hours on end - so long as that suits "them"!!! Sometimes I'm in the middle of a complicated scene and they decide they need to play-fight on top of my desk. One of them has also taken a liking to the Off button on my daughter's laptop, and stamps on it frequently!

  26. Check that cat, Christina, sounds like she's had specialist training! You could find she's in cahoots with a rival author determined to foil your latest release! :-)

  27. LOL!

    My daughter has just taken them back home with her. I'm suffering from separation anxiety already!!!