Jen: Today we are excited to welcome our next Historical Romance Retreat author, Anna Campbell! Anna, will you share a short bio with us?
Anna: Aussie Anna Campbell’s historical romances have won numerous awards, including the 2015 Australian Romantic Novella of the Year. Anna’s latest release is Stranded with the Scottish Earl: A Regency Novella, available from all good e-tailers from 30th June. Her website is www.annacampbell.com
Jen: Please tell us about your newest release and where the idea came from.
Anna: Hi Jen! Thanks for having me as your guest today. My new release is a stand-alone novella called Stranded with the Scottish Earl (no prizes for guessing the premise for the plot!). I actually wrote this one about 18 months ago when we were in the middle of a major rain event here in South-East Queensland in Australia where I live. So much so that I realized only after I’d written both novellas that the plot of Three Proposals and a Scandal and Stranded with the Scottish Earl turned on a flood trapping the characters and affecting their future. The two stories are very different – 3 Proposals is an emotional journey and Stranded is a romp – but I felt I couldn’t release two flood stories together, so Stranded has been waiting in the wings until now. It’s a light-hearted romance where charming Lord Lyle woos feisty English lady Charlotte Warren when they’re stuck alone in a manor house during a flood. It’s one of those irresistible force meets immovable object stories – with the irresistible force AKA my Scottish earl winning out in the end.
Lyle rose from the bed and stepped close enough to tower over her. “Miss Warren, I think you’d make a bonny wife.”
Charlotte regarded him doubtfully. “You don’t look insane. “
“Thank you,” he said and burst out laughing at her disgusted reaction. “I thought I should place my cards on the table.”
“Well, it’s a losing hand,” she retorted. She spread her hands in bewilderment. “You don’t know me.”
He studied her. Her luxuriant hair caught the firelight, glinting gold. Her slender body promised strength and sensuality. Her eyes glittered with temper and intelligence—and wariness. The wariness bolstered his optimism. “Don’t I?”
She frowned, although the color in her cheeks told him she, too, remembered their kisses. “No, and I can’t imagine that what little you do know justifies this mad conclusion.”
Charlotte sucked in a breath, and he struggled manfully not to notice how her bosom swelled. The taste of her still fizzed in his blood.
“I lied to you,” she said with a belligerent edge.
He hid a smile. “I lied to you.”
“I’m domineering and used to getting my own way.”
“I like a woman who knows her own mind.”
“I’m stubborn and opinionated.”
“If I’m contemplating a lifetime with a lassie, I want her to show a bit of spirit.”
“I have no society polish. A countess should be sophisticated, whereas I’ve never had a season. I’ve never even been to London.”
“Aye, you’ll settle into the Highlands well, then. My home is a long journey from the bright lights of Edinburgh—a wee wife who pines for city life wouldn’t be happy with me.”
She narrowed her eyes. “I kissed you like there’s no tomorrow.”
“Are you trying to convince me for or against?”
Her lips twisted in self-denigration. “I’m clearly a woman of wayward morals.”
He couldn’t contain his laughter. “Is that right?”
Her cheeks were fiery now. “You don’t want to marry a flirt.”
“If I’m the only laddie my wife flirts with, I have no objection.”
Her expression was a mixture of defiance and shame. “How do you know I don’t kiss every gentleman the way I…I kissed you?”
He smiled gently. “Have you ever kissed anyone else like that?”
“No.” Her long eyelashes, darker honey than her hair, flickered down. “But that doesn’t mean I won’t.”
She was bewitching. He’d admitted to being besotted. Every moment in her company only deepened his enchantment. “I’ll take my chances.”
“Surely you want a wife you can trust.”
“Apart from your…waywardness and propensity for impersonating fairytale characters, I believe you’re an admirable creature.”
“Hardly.” The compliment didn’t please her. “I let you take liberties.”
“As your future husband, I’d like to place it on record that I intend to take liberties at every opportunity.” He paused. “Scotland’s a gey chilly place, especially in the winter. I don’t want a cold marriage bed.”
She stiffened. “There remains one insurmountable obstacle.”
Her delicate jaw set in an obstinate line. “I don’t want to marry you.”
Jen: Are you a plotter or pantser?
Anna: I’m definitely a pantser, although I always have a pretty good idea of how my characters will change through the story and what the end will be. I like to tell myself the story as I write it. A writing student of mine put my process very nicely when she said I’m my first reader.
Jen: If you were able to travel in time, where would you go and what 3 things would you take with you?
Anna: Actually my answer to this one’s pretty obvious – I’d go back to the Regency to attend one of the glamorous balls that took place every night during the London season. All that glamour! All those beautiful clothes and jewels! I’d take my camera, a pack of Energel pens (can’t see me taking notes with a quill pen!) and some aspirin – all that champagne might give me a headache!
Jen: Who are some of your favorite authors? What are you reading now?
Anna: Oh, I love talking about favorite authors! Thank you for asking this question. The full list is too long, but as examples, I’ll go for Annie West, Molly O’Keefe, Sarah Mayberry, Nicola Cornick, Susan Elizabeth Phillips, Nora Roberts, and Liz Carlyle. At the moment, I’m on a nonfiction kick – reading nonfiction is a great way to come up with ideas for future stories. Something I read recently and absolutely adored is The Boys in the Boat by Daniel James Brown about the American rowing team who went to the 1936 Olympics. It’s as moving and suspenseful as a great novel.
Jen: How do you come up with characters’ names?
Anna: Names are a big issue when you write Regencies – there’s the first name, there’s the surname, and then there’s a title. And usually a big house or two! So you’ll have Reginald Smith, Lord Brown, who lives at Jones Place. Add to that the problem that the range of names in the Regency was fairly narrow – most men in real life were George or John or William. These days, I keep a notebook handy and write down any names or places that I hear that I might be able to use in a story somewhere. Even then, if the character doesn’t approve of the name I’ve given them, they sulk and go quiet. Often when I start a book, I’ll fiddle around for a couple of days testing names on my characters. Once I get the name right, it’s all systems go!
Jen: What’s next for you?
Anna: I’m having such fun writing novellas at the moment that I’ve committed to another three Dashing Widows stories. Readers really seemed to enjoy the first three (The Seduction of Lord Stone, Tempting Mr. Townsend, and Winning Lord West) so I’m continuing the series with Pursuing Lord Pascal, Charming Sir Charles, and Catching Captain Nash. PLP is out at the end of September just after the Historical Romance Retreat in Spokane which I’m very much looking forward to attending. http://www.historicalromanceretreat.com/