Jen: I’ve been reading Anne Gracie books for years. When she contacted me about visiting Romancing the Book, I jumped at the chance. And so, today we welcome Anne to the blog. Anne, will you share a short bio with us?
Anne: Anne Gracie spent her childhood on the move when her father’s job took them around the world. The gypsy life taught her that humor & love are universal languages and that favorite books can take you home, wherever you are.
Anne writes regency historical romances published by Berkley. She’s a nationally bestselling author, and has won a number of awards, and three RITA finals. Find her at www.annegracie.com , on facebook http://www.facebook.com/
Jen: Please tell us about your newest release and where the idea came from.
Anne: The Autumn Bride was released in February 2013. It’s a story about four young women, all orphans, who come together and form a kind of family. When their situation goes from bad to worse, Abby, my heroine, climbs through the window of a nearby mansion hoping to find something to steal. Instead she finds a bedridden aristocratic old lady at the mercy of her neglectful, rapacious servants. The four girls move in with Lady Beatrice, pretending to be her nieces and sacking the servants. All goes well until Lady Beatrice’s nephew Max returns after nine years in the Far East. He’s not impressed to find his aunt under the sway of these impostors.
It’s a rags-to-riches, feel-good, fun story with a dark undertow. But mostly it’s about the joy of friendship, second chances, sisterhood — and love.
The scene where Abby climbs through the window and finds Lady Beatrice came to me in a sort of dream, rolling in my head like a movie.Whenever this happens to me, the scene usually becomes a pivotal scene in a book.
Jen: At what age did you discover writing? Tell us your call story.
Anne: When I was a student I used to write, though not with any serious idea of getting published, and when I started work it was all so full-on I never had the time or energy to write afterward. But then I had a year off work and went backpacking solo around the world, and when I was in countries where I didn’t speak the language, I found stories spinning in my head. I bought an exercise book and started writing. . . and I never looked back. It took me a few years to get published, sometimes waiting 6 or 7 months for an editor to respond. Eventually I got The Call only it wasn’t a call but a fax. I didn’t have a fax machine, so it went to my friends around the corner, and because it came from overseas, it came in the middle of the night. It woke my friends up and Doug rang me to say there was a fax from “some publisher,” but he was really grumpy at being woken up, so he wouldn’t tell me what it said. I had to wait for the next day to read the message. I hardly got any sleep that night.
Jen: Are you a plotter or pantser?
Anne: I’m a pantser who plots and re-plots obsessively. I usually have one or two major scenes in my head, and I start with characters and a situation and I follow them. I often find myself stuck, and that’s when i plot and replot, building on what I know.
I have tried plotting it all out in advance, but the story choices I tend to make then are often a bit obvious, whereas when I start with characters and follow them, they surprise me. I like surprises, and I think readers do too. My method is a bit like archeology, I think — the story is there, but I have to uncover it bit by bit.
Jen: How do you remember ideas that come to you at odd times?
Anne: I carry a notebook with me at all times, because I do find ideas and snatches of dialogue come to me in unexpected moments. I also— and this is tragic to admit, I know — sleep with a notebook by the bed because scenes often come to me just as I’m drifting off to sleep or just waking up. I can tell myself I’ll remember, but if I don’t write it down at the time, all I recall the next day is that it was an utterly brilliant scene. . . if only I could remember what it was.
Jen: Who has influenced you as a writer?
Anne: Probably every writer I’ve ever read. I’ve always been a huge reader, and I still am, and I love discovering new-to-me writers. I read all kinds of fiction, but in my own genre my strongest influence is probably Georgette Heyer, who I’ve been reading and rereading since I was eleven and Mary Balogh, whose wonderfully intense writing I admire so much.
Jen: Who are some of your favorite authors? What are you reading now?
Anne: Researching a talk I was giving on romance heroes got me rereading a lot of my early romance loves — Elizabeth Lowell, Johanna Lindsey, Amanda Quick, Mary Balogh, Lisa Kleypas, Susan Elizabeth Phillips, and more. Currently I’m reading a lot of Juliet Marillier (fabulous fantasy writer) and I have books on my TBR by Elly Griffiths (crime), Kristan Higgins (contemporary rom-com) Nalini Singh (paranormal romance), Kate Forsyth’s fab new book about the Grimm sister and category romances by Kelly Hunter and Sarah Mayberry.
Jen: What’s next for you?
Anne: The Autumn Bride is the first in a series, so now I’m working on The Winter Bride.