I know I'm in my own little world, but it's OK.
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Saturday, October 15, 2011


Annie West spent her formative years on the east coast of Australia. Her family encouraged a love of books, the bush and travel, and she often managed to combine all three. There was the long trek to the marvellous Finders Ranges of South Australia – with Tolkien. Walking in the rugged Grampian Ranges of Victoria – with Tolstoy. And reading gothic romances while camped under the snow gums in the Australian Alps.

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...
Thanks so much for hosting me today, Kylie. It’s wonderful to be here! I’m just home from a long trip away and talking about writing and the latest book is a lovely way to ease back into work.

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:

Not your average damsel in distress!

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
About you... I live with my family at Lake Macquarie on the NSW coast. As I write my pooch is in her bed by the computer, so I always have company even when I’m writing.

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:

If you'd like to learn more about Annie, visit her website or follow her on Facebook or you could sign up for her newsletter.


  1. Hi Annie and Kylie,

    Thanks Kylie for your wonderful blog and thanks Annie for sharing. Like you I love the fantasy and mystery of the Sheikh and you do it so beautifully.

    Here is my idea with not a sheikh to be found ☺

    A country girl’s high-school sweetheart has returned home after ten years in the city. It’s his birthday and she, the owner of the local patisserie, bakes him his favourite coconut dream pie. Thinking nice reunion, she was greeted by her one true love. He froze at the sight of her, and the swarm of city sophisticates around him sniggered. She dumped the cake in his hands and sprinted down the path with their laughter ringing in her ears.


  2. Ooh, what a cool blog! Waving madly to Annie and Kylie (and no, I don't have a knife in my hand. Sheesh! You brandish a knife once and your reputation is fouled for all time!). Annie, I LOVE Girl in the Bedouin Tent. I think it's one of your best. That sizzling sexual tension between Amir and Cassie is as thick as something really thick... And what fun seeing the covers all lined up here. By the way, I didn't know Casablanca was your fave film.

  3. Hi, Kylie! Great interview as always. And, Annie, fabulous answers. Welcome home, and congrats on the release of the Girl in the Bedouin Tent! I have her at my bedside, as well as all your other books. The manga edition of the Sheikh's Ransomed Bride looks great on my hubby's iPad.

    I know I always harp on about Dirty Dancing, but...I can't help myself! The scene where Baby and Johnny meet is one of my faves. When she's introduced to him, she's so gobsmacked all she can say is "I carried a watermelon."

  4. Hi Margaret,

    Nice to find another sheikh fan! Desert romances can be such fun, can't they. Thanks for the kind comment.

    Ooh, I love story openings - they're my fave part. I always enjoy getting hooked by a great opening. I so feel for your poor country cook! That would be horrible, to make that special effort and then be laughed at. I'm immediately on her side and want the sophisticates to come a cropper - fast. That guy is going to have to prove himself true hero material, isn't he?

    Is this a story you're writing now or a new idea?


  5. Anna, brandish a knife once and you can expect never to live it down...

    I owe you so much for badgering me into even thinking about writing a sheikh story. If it hadn't been for that I may never have tried it and think of all the enjoyment I'd have missed out on.

    Aw, glad you think this one is one of my best. It was certainly a roller coaster to write. I had trouble keeping up with that pair!

    As for Casablanca being my fave - the truth is I can never think of one fave movie. There are too many. Casablanca is definitely up there as one of them. It just depends on what mood I'm in as to which I'd pick.

  6. Hi Vanessa,

    How cool about the Manga Ransomed Bride looking good on your husband's ipad! Does he mind carrying a romance comic book with him?

    I hope you enjoy Girl in the Bedouin Tent when you get to her. It's nice to think of her resting at your place.

    I have a confession to make - it's been so long since I've seen Dirty Dancing I can't remember the scene. Ducking here as I know it's a favourite of so many people. I'll have to watch the film again, I can see. That scene sounds like the sort of thing I could see myself doing and then cringing over! Poor Baby. Thanks for mentioning this one.

  7. Kylie, I just remembered that in my jet lagged stated I answered one of your questions wrong (eeek). You asked what was coming next and I completely forgot to mention 'The Savakis Merger', a Mediterranean-set romance coming out in North America mid next month. That's what a holiday away will do for you! If anyone wants to find out about it pop over to my website for more detail about it.

  8. Hello, ladies! You're all quick off the mark today (but then I did sleep in as we had a wild thunder & lightning storm last night and I was woken repeated by my cats as they took shelter under the covers of my doona!!! 'Fraidy cats!).

    Some great memorable first moments - you can't go past DIRTY DANCING (sigh). Big fan of Patrick Swayze. Not sure if the remake will live up to it.

    Annie, you're forgiven for jet-lag - it's a bugger of a thing! Readers, do head on over to Annie's website to take a sneak peek at THE SAVAKIS MERGER - www.annie-west.com

  9. Hey, think of all the fun WE'D have missed out on if you hadn't started writing sheikh books. Not to mention your hero and heroine, snicker!

    Kylie, we had a storm here this morning too. Lightning and thunder around 5am.

    Oh, and I highly recommend THE SAVAKIS MERGER. There's a REALLY sexy scene in that one (if you've read it, you'll know which one I'm talking about, sigh!).

  10. Kylie, if it's any consolation, my first night back in the country I was woken at 3am by a massive thunderstorm and our old dog needed company. I sat up for an hour reading a romance (what else?) with her sitting on my foot till the storm died away. I'm not surprised your cats took shelter.

    OK, OK, I'm going to watching Dirty Dancing again! So many people talk about it in breathless terms and for me it's just a vague memory.

  11. Anna, it would have been sad to have missed out on the fun of writing sheikh romances from time to time. They're so deliciously intense, I find.

    Smirking here at your comment on the REALLY sexy scene in Savakis. I've had reader comments saying it was their fave scene in the book. Great to hear it worked for them too. He really is such a bad boy hero that Damon Savakis.

  12. Congratualtions on the release Annie! I haven't had the pleasure of reading your books, but they sound amazing.

    I went for a job interview once and the owner of the store introduced himself "Hi, I'm Darcy." Then held out his hand. I clasped his hand and said "Hi, I'm Darcy, uh Jo-Anne. I'm Jo-Anne." I was SO embarrassed!

  13. Ooh, I have Girl in a Bedouin Tent on my bedside table and am savouring it at a chapter a night and DROOLING. The book is heavenly, Annie. Mmm, I lurrrvvve, Amir. :-)

    I bought a copy of Dirty Dancing 2 weeks ago and I've already watched it twice. Love the "I carried a watermelon" comment. Have to say I love the staggered meetings in "When Harry Met Sally too." My all-time fave, though, may well be Lizzy Bennet overhearing Darcy's refusal to dance with her -- "She's not handsome enough to tempt me." Chortle, oh man is he going to regret saying that!

    Great blog, Kylie!

  14. Hey, Kylie and Annie!

    Annie, I love your sheikhs and it's so interesting to read how you came to explore the idea of writing them - yay, Anna Campbell for spurring you on!

    I'm another person who enjoys the meeting in Dirty Dancing! And the whole dancing thing in that movie - I'd love to be able to more like that! Alas my flexibility is less than ideal!

    Another "first meeting" that I adore is in Love Actually - in fact, thinking about it, there are two meetings in that movie that I love! When the Prime Minister (Hugh G) meets Natalie and she keeps opening her mouth and stuffing her foot further in! And the other when Jamie (Colin F) meets Aurelia and tries out his deplorable linguistic ability!

    Thanks for bringing us Annie, Kylie - it's a great read!


  15. Hi Annie & Kylie

    I have just finished reading Girl in a Bedouin Tent and absolutely loved every minute of it! Thanks Annie :)I want to head for the desert and find my own Amir! I just have to get past DH first ;)

    Michelle, I think I've watched Dirty Dancing about 18 times and the watermelon comment makes me smile every time. My all time favourite movie. And wasn't Patrick Swayze HOT? "No-one puts Baby in a corner!" Swoon ...

    The most memorable moment for me is when future hubby G finally got around to asking me out. He said, "So wanna take a drive in my GTi? I need to pick up my hockey stick at the sportshop and need someone to double park while I run inside."

    Now what girl could resist an invitation like that?

    Loved the interview. Thanks Annie & Kylie xx

  16. Hi Jo-Anne,

    You poor thing! What an introduction! Did he smile? I hope so. Interviews are so nerve racking, aren't they? I dread to think what nonsense I might have blurted out during interviews over the years.

    Glad you like the sound of the books, by the way.

  17. Hi Michelle,

    I love the idea of Amir being savoured one chapter at a time. What self restraint you've got! Lovely to hear you're enjoying it.

    Ah, I love that moment in Pride and Prejudice too. How awful to overhear something like that about yourself. No wonder she took a set against him.

  18. Hi Sharon,

    Oh, aren't those meetings in Love Actually terrific. I love the scene where the PM's housekeeper (wish I could remember her name) puts her foot in it again and again. Maybe it's like sympathy for a heroine who's in a bad place and things keep getting worse. Colin F is rather endearing when he's trying to speak Portuguese, isn't he? I do love the scene where he proposes marriage in a crowded restaurant and his Portuguese isn't very good but it still works. Now that was romantic.

  19. Hi Juanita, I'm smiling here at the idea of you escaping to the desert to find your own Amir, dodging your DH on the way. Grinning even more at the way said DH sweet talked you into going out with him. How cool! Obviously you saw beyond the words... Men can be so smooth, can't they?

  20. Hi Annie,

    I love Sheikh stories! I'm so looking forward to Girl in a Bedouin Tent! I've read your Prince of Scandal and Protectd by the Prince and loved both stories.

    Oh, meetings? I liked the first meeting between the young hero and heroine in THE NOTEBOOK.

  21. Juanita, a GTi, a hockey stick and double parking - I LOVE your story - LOL!

    It's amazing how many memorable scenes come from movies, isn't it?

  22. Is now the time to admit I've never seen/read Pride & Prejudice (or any other Jane Austen movie/book)? *ducking & hiding*

  23. Anna, & Annie, that whole SAVAKIS sexy scene reference is just cruel!!! I'm going to hunt down a copy of the book and read it now, just to see if it lives up to expectation/recommendation!!! LOL

  24. Hi Riya,

    How fantastic that you enjoyed Prince of Scandal and Protected by the Prince. That's music to my ears! Hope you enjoy Girl in the Bedouin Tent too. It does delve into that sheikh fantasy quite a bit.

    I've got the Notebook on DVD to watch so will look forward to that first meeting.

  25. Kylie, I seriously think you need to read/see Pride and Prejudice. I'm not sure if historical stories are your thing but there's so much in that story that's quintessential to romance, it's really worth a look. The toing and froing between Elizabeth and Darcy is a real treat, as is watching their slow realisation of how they feel. Add it to your must do list!

  26. Kylie,

    Email me with your postal address and I'll send you a copy of The Savakis Merger so you can judge for yourself. Think of it as thanks for hosting me here.


  27. I'll have to put P&P on on my To Watch list once I finish this present WIP - feed my girls in the basement.

    And thanks for the offer of sending me the book but I've beaten you to it - I ordered THE SAVAKIS MERGER this morning from TBD. LOL

  28. Hi Annie and Kylie
    Sigh... Annie, I'm jealous at the thought of your wonderful sojourn in France! Do you realise how romantic that paragraph sounded, away from the demands of everyday life and relaxing in each other's company? Sigh again!
    It's interesting to see the different covers for GIRL IN THE BEDOUIN TENT. They're both beautiful but I must say I love the one the UK one. Do you have a favourite?

  29. Kylie, you don't waste any time! Hope you enjoy the Savakis Merger. That one stands out in my mind as a real treat to write.

  30. Hi Kandy,

    Sorry to make you jealous. Truthfully, it was fantastic. We even managed great weather! It was nice to step off the treadmill for a while and do something completely different. We did a lot but still felt refreshed.

    Yes, it's fun seeing the different covers. I lucked out this time with terrific covers. Personally I still think the UK cover is the most gorgeous one I've had - it really knocked my socks off when I saw it. Having said that I love the lovely rich, sensuous feel of the Aus/NZ cover. I think they did a great job.

  31. Annie, that UK cover IS gorgeous - be nice in a picture frame on the wall.

    France would have been lovely this time of year, Kandy. Sigh.

  32. Always love reading more about you, Anne. Thanks for the interview, Kylie.

  33. Great idea, Kylie. I must try to get a cover flat for it. I'd love to have it on my wall.

  34. Hi Eleni,

    Waving from the east coast. Hope we can catch up at the Qld conference.