Saturday, April 12, 2014

Short Interview with New South Wales Writers Centre

I did a short interview with the NSW Writers Centre in Sydney, in preparation for the Romancing the Page workshop I'm doing there, and thought I'd post it here as well. Please note that the workshop date has changed — it's now on May 4th 2014

How did you get into romance writing?
Initially I thought writing romance would be a quick and easy way to fund a more "literary career" -- I knew nothing about romance then, only the urban myths that abound about the genre. But once I started reading widely within the genre and saw the huge range of stories published, I realised I could write the stories that I wanted to write, that I didn't have to write "to formula" as I'd assumed.  I found that writing romance isn't easy, but it is a lot of fun. I've never looked back.

Sixteen books published! How do you stay inspired and find fresh stories?
It's easy. New story ideas come all the time, and the genre itself is constantly reinventing itself and expanding. But at the heart of every romance novel there are people, and people are endlessly fascinating and surprising. The difficulty isn't about staying inspired, it's finding the time to write all the things I want to write.

Do you consider yourself a hopeless romantic? 
I am in lots of ways. I do believe in the power of love to change people and inspire them  to change their lives. Its one of the most transforming things in our lives. I'm a "Love Actually" kind of romantic, though -- the sort that sees all kinds of love in all kinds of people. I've spent my life working in underprivileged areas and with people whose lives are often in crisis, so I'm not blind to the problems in society. But I still believe in love and I see it all around me.

Who is your favourite literary lover?
That's a hard one-- there are so many to choose from. I'm going to avoid all the literary lovers who ended up dead -- I like a happy ending, thank you. I'll go for Damerel, in Georgette Heyer's Venetia. He's a wicked funny, poetry-spouting, flirtatious bad boy, a nineteenth century rake who, when he falls for the lovely Venetia, tries to stay away from her for her own good. Of course she's a spirited heroine who gives as good as she gets, and she won't stand for such foolishness.

Anne Gracie's next book, The Winter Bride (Berkley USA and Penguin Australia) is on sale from March 26th.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Getting the RITA news

Last Thursday I got the news that my book, The Autumn Bride was a finalist in the Romance Writers of America's RITA Award. Usually RITA finalists get a phone call telling them they made the final cut.

But I was away from home, in Queensland, on my annual writers retreat with eight other writers, and not near my phone. This is where we go. (Yes, it's a tough life, but someone's got to do it.)

We each have our own rooms so we can work undisturbed. Mornings are for quiet writing time, then we meet for lunch, and a writing-related discussion. After lunch, we continue writing — we're all multi-published writers and we all have deadlines. In the evening, we either buy our dinner and bring it back for a working dinner, or we go out to a restaurant.

On the Wednesday night we'd gone out for a night of pure socialization — one of the group had to leave early next morning, so after an evening workshop we went to the local surf club for a meal and some live jazz. Followed by a few more drinks back at the hotel. Late night.

So Thursday morning at 7.30 am (crack of dawn!) I was still in a really deep sleep. Persistent banging on my door. I stumbled to open it and stared blearily out. Three of my friends stood there in wet swimsuits and towels. I blinked, still half asleep. They started leaping up and down, grinning and babbling about something.

I fixated on the leaping. My friends are not normally leapers. Frogs, I remember thinking. It's something to do with frogs. It's a charade or something maybe. Did we talk about frogs last night?

So busy was I trying to work out the significance of the frog theme that it took me a few moments to hear that they were telling me I'd finalled in the RITA.

It hadn't been on my radar at all. I had no idea of the date.
They'd been so kind as to let me sleep while they'd gone for their 6.30 am swim.

Later I checked my email and there was a lovely email from RWA President Terry McLaughlin.

So I didn't get a call, but I had frogs and an email instead.
 And a wet patch on the front of my nightie, from all the hugging.

Pretty special, I think.
I had a lovely day — almost the whole day I was answering emails and messages on FB and twitter about the RITA. It was like a party. And of course, that night we went out again and celebrated.

So thank you to everyone for the warm wishes. And the frogs.

The full list of the RITA finalists is here.