Monday, April 02, 2007

Make-Believe Monday with Anna Campbell

Today on Make-Believe Mondays I'm pleased to introduce Anna Campbell. Anna writes historical romance for Avon.

Anna, first, tell us a little bit about the manuscript
you’re working on now.

Anna: I’m working on my third dark, intense, sexy Regency historical for Avon which has been tentatively titled The Devil’s Due. I’d describe this story as a Regency Noir (thank you, Stephanie Laurens, I’m eternally in your debt for that description of my first book!) Affair to Remember. It’s about two people who’ve done everything and seen everything and who guard their feelings like Fort Knox. For these two, falling in love is the greatest risk they’ll ever take. I’m only in the first draft stage but I’m really enjoying writing this story. My hero and heroine are both clever, sophisticated and cynical and, boy, are they striking sparks off each other!
Debra: Sometimes falling in love is the greatest risk of all. I can't wait to read this one.

Ray Bradbury said, “We are cups, constantly being filled. The trick is, knowing how to tip ourselves over and let the beautiful stuff out.” How do you keep your creative cup filled?
Anna: I listen to a lot of music, mainly classical, although popular contemporary and world and soundtracks and what I call my ‘dag’ collection get a regular run too. Do you have that word in the US?
Debra: This isn't a word I've heard of.
Anna: It means hopelessly uncool! My dag collection covers things like Herb Alpert and Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin and greatest hits of the ‘60s with all those tragic girly songs like You Don’t Have to Say You Love Me and Ne Me Quitte Pas and Where Do You Go to, My Lovely (I know it’s not a girl singing it, but it’s a girly song). Mind you, if I was being totally honest, I’d have to say I find my ‘dag’ collection the coolest thing out, at least for me! Spanish Flea really gets a party jumping! When I’m writing, the stereo is set mostly to classical. I find words distract me from what’s going on in my head. Even words in another language, so opera is out!
Debra: I like those oldies too, especially Frank. Somewhere I read that the right classical music can put us into a highly creative state.

Is there a point when your characters begin to come alive and you can see and hear them?
Anna: Before I start writing, my hero and heroine have clamored for their place in the sun for a long time. Yes, Doctor, I do hear voices! With my first book for Avon, Claiming the Courtesan, which comes out this month, the two main characters were particularly vociferous (aka pushy!). I kept telling them that I wrote light romantic comedies, not dark, emotional books. And I certainly didn’t write sexy and if any characters needed someone who could write sexy, it was these two. When the book starts, the heroine is London’s most notorious courtesan and she’s been the hero’s mistress for a year. And he’s so intensely focused on the heroine, he basically burns up the air around him.
Debra: Oh, now that sounds steamy. :)
Anna: Anyway, eventually, just to shut them up, I wrote the first chapter, then the next, then eventually the complete book and it seemed I did write dark and intense, and hey, those love scenes made me blush but they seemed to come from somewhere! But it’s interesting – the people I think I know at the start of the book reveal layers and layers of complexity as I tell their story. They end up being much richer beings than they are when we first meet – it’s like getting to know someone over the course of a wonderful friendship. I’m really getting into the right space when the characters take over the story and start telling me what they’re doing. They really do develop a separate, vivid existence of their own. It’s odd, it’s hard to explain, but it definitely happens.
Debra: I think you've explained it very well.

As a child did any particular book or author pull you into their imaginary world?
Anna: I was a great Enid Blyton fan when I was a kid. Read her like she was going out of fashion (actually, I think at the time, she was! Although I’m pleased to see that she’s since come back to her rightful place in the world). My mother kept a composition I wrote in grade two where I proudly proclaimed to the world that I was going to be the new Enid Blyton. At least I knew what I wanted to be when I grew up!
Debra: And here you are! Living the dream. :)

Is there anything else you would like to add about the role of imagination, and dreams in creating fiction? Any other message for our readers?
Anna: Hold on to your dreams as hard as you can. Remember why you had that dream when you’re disheartened or disappointed or tired and impatient. When I was six, I had a dream that one day, I’d have a book published – even if the final result is far removed from an Enid Blyton! Now, so many years later, I can hardly believe that Claiming the Courtesan with my name on it is in the bookstores! Long live dreams!
Debra: Yes! Long live dreams!
Anna, thank you for joining us here on this Make-believe Monday to share a little bit of the magic of writing with our readers.
Readers can visit Anna at

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