Anna Campbell lives in Australia. She has four times been voted Favorite Australian romance writer by the Australian Romance Readers Association (2009, 2010, 2011, 2012) and her work is published in 16 languages. She has written eight multi award-winning historical romances set in the Regency period for Avon and Grand Central Publishing Forever. WHAT A DUKE DARES is her third book in the “Sons of Sin” series and releases in late August 2014. visit her here and on facebook or Twitter: @AnnaCampbellOz
NAW- Without giving away too many spoilers, can you tell us about your forthcoming book, What A Duke Dares? What is it about?
I’ve always had a soft spot for stories about unrequited love (especially when the love is requited by the last page!). Penelope Thorne has loved her childhood friend Camden Rothermere, the Duke of Sedgemoor, all her life but she’s realistic enough to recognise that ‘love’ isn’t a word in Cam’s vocabulary. When she refuses his proposal, she leaves England for an adventurous life on the Continent, partly to escape any temptation to change her mind about marrying Cam. When fate brings them together in Italy, sparks fly, but it takes a hazardous winter journey, scandal, a marriage of convenience, heartbreak, a pair of wayward young lovers, and navigating the challenges of the London Season before these two get their happy ending. WHAT A DUKE DARES is the third book in my Sons of Sin series and it’s out at the end of August.
NAW- Tell us about your other works. How difficult (or easy) was it getting published?
I completed my first historical romance between high school and university. It was twenty-seven years after that before I got a publishing contract. A lot of that delay was my fault – I didn’t submit anything to a publisher for thirteen years before Avon picked up CLAIMING THE COURTESAN (you can’t get published if you don’t submit) although I kept writing through that time. Also I was writing completely uncommercial stories in obscure settings. On the other hand, being unpublished for so long taught me an awful lot about writing so it had an upside that I can recognise now. So far I’ve published eight historical romances with the ninth, WHAT A DUKE DARES, out at the end of August in North America and Australia (other territories to follow). I’m just doing editorial revisions for my tenth book, A SCOUNDREL BY MOONLIGHT, which is out in the first half of next year from Grand Central Forever in America.
NAW- How do you decide the names for your characters?
Naming my characters is one of the fun bits of writing historicals! Especially when I’m dealing with the aristocracy as I usually am in my romances. There’s a first and last name as with anybody else, so John Smith. Then a title which is usually the name the character goes by in society. So John Smith, Marquess of Jones, will be referred to in the story usually as Jones. And he will have at least one estate that I need to name as well. When I started, coming up with all these names wasn’t an onerous task. These days, after so many books, I watch a lot of U.K. lifestyle programs and I jot down promising names of places or people. I find that giving my characters the right name is part of starting the book – if the name doesn’t fit them like a glove, I’m stuck until I come up with a name that does suit them. Once I’ve got that, many of their other characteristics fall into place.
NAW- What made you write about historical settings?
I’ve always loved history, ever since I was a little girl in love with the gorgeous costumes in the fairytales that my parents read to me. I love the larger-than-life quality that you get in a good historical novel and that fact that we’re NOT in Kansas anymore. Australia is a very young nation (at least as far as European settlement goes) and places with long and eventful histories always fascinated me. Before I was published, I wrote books with a variety of settings from the Middle Ages onward, but these days, I set most of my stories in the first quarter of the 19th century in the British Isles. This is the period of the Napoleonic Wars and Jane Austen and it’s very popular with readers.
NAW- Tell us about yourself. What do you do when you are not writing?
I love to travel. Right now I’m planning a long trip to the U.K. next year. Because I set all my books in the British Isles, I need to return there on a regular basis. Luckily I love England and Scotland and field research is one of the pleasures of being a writer. When I’m home, I like to swim, bake and play the piano.
NAW- Who are your favourite writers?
I’m a voracious reader, always have been. I think most writers are. If I’m talking classics, I love the Brontes and Jane Austen and Tolstoy. For historical fiction, I don’t think anyone has come near Dorothy Dunnett, the late Scottish writer. In genre fiction, I’d go for Liz Carlyle, Susan Elizabeth Phillips, Dorothy L. Sayers, Julia Spencer-Fleming.
NAW- How do you write, planning the complete plot beforehand or do you let the book take its course? Take us through your writing process.
I’m a complete pantser, although I prefer the term organic writer. I’ve tried plotting and the problem is that once I’ve told myself the story, well…I’ve told myself the story! I generally start with a couple of characters, hero and heroine and occasionally the villain, a problem and an opening scene. Once I get that I just go where the story takes me, although I often have some inkling of climactic moments and turning points. I write a very dirty first draft that’s always too long and then it’s a matter of chipping away at the marble to reveal the angel inside, to paraphrase Michelangelo.
NAW-What are you currently reading?
I read a lot of nonfiction, partly because it often gives me inspiration for my stories. Right now, I’m about halfway through Alfred Lansing’s classic ENDURANCE: SHACKLETON’S INCREDIBLE VOYAGE. I’m also a few chapters into a re-read of REBECCA by Daphne Du Maurier which I’m reading for a review site where I do monthly columns on older and classic romance. Sadly, I’m finding the heroine more trying than the last time I read this at the age of about sixteen.
NAW- Any advice for struggling writers?
It’s so easy to get distracted these days – the internet is a constant buzz of noise, I find. My best advice is write, write, write. Finish a book and put it aside while you write another. A bit of distance is essential before you edit a piece of work.