She got hooked on romance early. In her teens she spent long afternoons playing tennis with her best friend. Between endless games on baking gravel, they’d stagger to her friend's house to recover, and in that house was an unending store of books, all with that distinctive rose on the cover. That’s how she discovered romance and has been addicted ever since.
Annie lives with her hero (still the same one after all this time) and children at Lake Macquarie, north of Sydney. They're neatly situated between the Hunter Valley’s marvellous wine country, some of the State’s most superb beaches and the beautiful lake.
Annie, it's so great to finally have you here!
Tell us about the book...
Some years ago my crit partner, Anna Campbell, told me I should write a sheikh book. I protested (loudly) that I could never write one. No, no, no, I just didn’t have it in me…but she had a determined look in her eye and a sharp knife so I eventually caved in and tried writing one.
Scroll forward a few years and I’ve discovered they’re a joy to write – so much so that my fifth sheikh is striding across bookstore shelves right now. My fifth sheikh – who’d have thought I’d ever be saying that? I do love being a writer!
For anyone who hasn’t tried reading or writing a desert romance let me explain a little. I love the fact you can bend the rules that apply to our ‘normal’ contemporary world when you delve into a place that can be anything you like to make it – modern or traditional, with a sheikh who’s a quintessential democrat or the ruler of all he surveys.
It’s a perfect place to find a strong alpha hero. Plus a heroine can find herself in all sorts of fascinating trouble in a far off land where the normal rules don’t apply (my current heroine is a case in point).
I enjoy too the fact that often she doesn’t know if the man who stands between her and trouble is really a hero or perhaps the most dangerous guy she’s ever met. So many opportunities for intense sizzle and high emotion.
Here’s the blurb of GIRL IN THE BEDOUIN TENT and you’ll get an idea of what I mean:
Sheikh Prince Amir has vowed to redeem his scandalous family name – so the last thing he needs on a tour of his desert kingdom is to have a sensuous blonde with more spirit than clothes presented for his harem.
Fiery Cassie might have been kidnapped by bandits and dolled up as the Sheikh’s love-slave, but she refuses to be any man’s plaything. Yet spending a week in Amir’s desert tent pretending to be his mistress would get under any girl’s skin. Especially when she is under his sheets…
See? That sort of situation just wouldn’t work in suburban Melbourne or outback South Australia. Where else could a heroine in a contemporary romance find herself chained to the hero’s bed? And of course once that idea popped into my head I just had to write the story.
I think what I enjoy most about this book is the fact that the intense situation Cassie and Amir find themselves in is perfect for uncovering their deepest emotions, their hopes and fears.
They find themselves thrown together so there’s little chance to hide what they feel, and they’re forced to face issues they’ve spent their lives avoiding. There’s no way they can escape each other and that adds to the intensity.
Well, yes, they do eventually leave the tent! But by then their lives are too intertwined to allow them to walk away.
|UK cover version|
Setting – Tarakhar – a fictional middle eastern country that allowed me to daydream about exotic palaces, austere but gorgeous mountains and bustling souks. Oh yes, and luxurious desert camps.
Hero – Amir, ruler of his country, but because of his family history he grew up fighting every step of the way for acceptance. He’s determined to do the right thing, no matter how hard.
Heroine – Cassie, an adventurous, no-nonsense Australian who’s survived a difficult past and is used to looking out for herself. Being cast in the role of rich man’s plaything is her worst nightmare come true.
Scene you would never cut – The first one! That was what propelled me to write the book. It was such fun.
I was filled with anticipation when I thought of the meeting between a proud sheikh, intent on diplomatic negotiations, and the independent woman who’s been kidnapped and presented to him for his pleasure. Add the fact that she’s a captive who decides attack is the best form of defence…it was just too good to resist.
Something your hero or heroine would never do or say – My hero would never walk away from his duty. My heroine would never walk away from someone in trouble.
What's one quirky thing about your heroine? Hm, does doing yoga in the desert wearing nothing but a man’s shirt count as quirky?
What do you think the readers will like about this book? I hope they get a punch of emotional satisfaction from the romance – it really digs deep. To start with I suspect the set up might hook them (fingers crossed!).
What's next for you? My next book is my first ever Beauty and the Beast story and it’s set in the Blue Mountains (near Sydney, Australia), one of my favourite places.
In UNDONE BY HIS TOUCH, a scarred hero blames himself for his brother’s death. He also blames the woman he believes betrayed his brother and drove him to suicide. He wants revenge – if only he can find her. Little does he know the woman he’s just fallen in love with is the woman who apparently destroyed his brother.
‘UNDONE’ is out next year.
|Annie's first book|
My first romance was published in 2000 and my first romance with Mills and Boon published in 2006. I’ve just sent in final edits on my 15th story for Mills and Boon (yay!). I get a kick out of going to romance writer conferences where I get labelled ‘A Sexy Author’ because of the line I write for.
I love books, talking, food, movies, trips away, talking, food, books, bushwalking, talking, books, food…is there a theme here?
Favorite movie of all time - Casablanca.
Favorite fairytale – I must be a Cinderella girl as I keep spotting elements of the story in my own books. I love the transformation theme and the idea of the underdog winning against the odds. But in my stories Cinderella has a lot of get-up-and-go and doesn’t hang around waiting to be saved by a prince (he’s a bonus!).
Favorite story to disappear into – A romance. Any romance! Or when I’m in need of a laugh, something by PG Wodehouse.
Favorite TV program – Oh no, this varies too often. It could be anything from QI to The Amazing Race (I get hooked though I vow I won’t) or the latest historical or crime drama.
First book you remember reading – Well, I wasn’t reading so much as listening to my dad. Every night he’d read me a chapter of ‘Wind in the Willows’ while I lay in bed.
Dog or cat person (or other) – Dog, or actually, animals in general.
Author (living or dead) you'd most like to meet – Tolkien. I know someone who corresponded with him and he sounds like he’d be great company.
A romantic retreat for you would be... I just had it – a week dawdling in the Perigord region of southern France. Sunshine. Great food. Gorgeous scenery. Delicious ice cream. Yummy French accents.
Above all – escape from phone, computer, doorbell so we could pretend we had all the time in the world to relax in each other’s company. Bliss!
What do you do to unwind or relax? Read! That’s my ultimate escape.
What era would you like to time travel and visit? And why? I’m a history buff. Almost any would be great.
I spent a lot of time studying ancient Greece but I think it would be way too uncomfortable there, especially for a lone woman traveller, so perhaps a weekend in the roaring twenties (with plenty of money and an introduction to some glamorous parties).
What does love mean to you? Everything. You miss them when they’re away. You learn to enjoy their foibles, that in the past you used to just put up with.
They’re part of you and you’re part of them. A love like that changes your whole life.
Annie, it's been fantastic having you here on my blog - thank you for sharing so much of your time and for the entertaining anecdotes!
Annie's generously offered a give away a copy of GIRL IN THE BEDOUIN TENT and one of her other, non-sheik stories (two separate draws).
She'd like to ask you this question - In this latest book I had fun beginning with a situation that was a 'worst possible' meeting for my hero and heroine.
Can you want to share a memorable meeting you've had? Perhaps a first date to remember? Or if you prefer not to share from your own experience, maybe one from a film or book that sticks in your mind.
Leave an answer by midday, Wednesday 19th October 2011 (Aussie time). The winners will be randomly drawn then announced on Thursday, 20th October 2011.
Some of Annie's other books: