Anne Herries is a firm favourite with many Harlequin Historical readers. The 2004 winner of the RNA's Romance prize, she is once again a finalist for the prize with her Regency -- An Improper Companion. This month, Anne has a book out in both Harlequin Historicals as well as Mills and Boon Historicals. She kindly took some time out of her busy schedule to answer some of our questions.
1. What attracts you to your chosen time period?
I write all time periods, from Anglo Saxon to WW11 and the occasional modern story, but Regency is a favourite. It is partly to do with the clothes, I think, though I like the manners very much. It all depends on the idea that comes for the story, which always suggests its own period. I enjoy the cut and thrust of conversation that can be taken two ways and is often amusing when writing Regency.
2. What is about the heroes from that time period that excites you?
I like laid back Englishmen who have exquisite manners and a sense of honour but also a wicked sense of humour. I also like swashbuckling pirates and that type of hero, but I think the cool English hero who is hardly ever ruffled but always comes to the rescue is my favourite.
3. What is the worst thing about being a writer?
Having a book refused. Each book you write is like a child. You give birth to it painfully, with a lot of blood sweat and tears, as well as laughter, and if it is rejected it hurts like hell for a while. However, most of us have to go through it and you just have to pick yourself up, grit your teeth and do it all over again.
4. Although many writers know they want to be a writer from an early age, was there something in particular that made you decide to pursue your dream?
I don't think I thought about it until I was in my thirties, because I was always too busy doing other things. I was very imaginative as a child and always making up stories in my head, but putting them on paper didn't occur to me until I had to stay home with my beloved dog. He couldn't get out much and hated being left so I read and knitted until I was bored. I then decided to write my book, and the first one duly went off to M&B - who sensibly lost it, or so they said when I asked nine months later. It was such awful rubbish that they did the only sensible thing and denied all knowledge. I learn quickly though and my second completed book was accepted by Robert Hale. It was a year or so before Devil's Kin was taken by M&B and longer before I got a second accepted. However, once I got into my stride I did OK.
5. How long after you first started submitting, did it take for you to have your first book accepted?
I think it must have been about a year before the second one actually went to a publisher. I re-wrote it eleven times!
6. What is the biggest challenge you face when you are writing a book? The beginning, middle or end?
I always know how a book will end and once started at the end, and then wrote the beginning and joined the two bits up. However, I wouldn't recommend it and I start at the beginning these days. If you aren't too sure where you are going the middle bit can be a bit daunting, because it is often slower than the dashing start we all try for and endings are always satisfactory. I don't usually have too much trouble anywhere, but if I do I go back and revise the first chapters and that usually sorts out any problems I have. Of course my editors sometimes want changes, and that can be difficult when you first look at what they want, because it may mean rethinking something you thought was a must. I have learned not to think in the negative. It can be done, it just takes some thought and work - and the biggest thing is to accept that they have the right to ask for changes. The publisher pays for everything. They put their name to the book as much as the author and they have to sell it to make the business pay so it is silly to sulk because they want to change a name you like or something similar. Just get on with it!
7. When you are not writing, what do you do?
I like shopping, especially for shoes. I enjoy going for a nice walk with my husband, and we walk a lot in Spain where we take holidays as often as we can, which is about four times a year. There I swim, walk, read, do a little bit of writing and go out for meals. I also like watching good films on TV - like the Jane Austen season. I also like the Internet, blogs and email - perhaps too much.
8. What are some of your favourite movies?
Gone with the Wind. Wuthering Heights. Jane Eyre etc. I also enjoy good crime films. I like watching Midsomer Murders.
9. Who are some of your favourite romance authors?
I am a big fan of the classics and Margaret Mitchell, but if we come to modern authors there are a lot of them. I review books with some friends for Romance authors. and we always give favourable reviews. I have no interest in hurting people, especially authors like myself. So I set up the redrosesforauthors review site in order to give something back to a career that has been good to me and help authors, particular those who are just starting. I have recently reviewed Nicola Cornick, Fenella Jane Miller, Marina Oliver, Karen Rose Smith and lots of other authors. Not just regency but magic and all sorts, and I loved quite a few of them. I could never say one was my favourite because tomorrow I shall read another book that will blow my socks off.
10, What does your writing cave look like?
It looks as if a bomb hit it! I have books everywhere, not quite floor to ceiling but nearly. My husband complains the bookcase is too heavy. I have a lovely modern flat screen computer he bought me for my birthday and also a lap top. My desk at this moment is barely visible from the clutter, and finished manuscripts cover most of the floor. Most people peep in at the door and run away.
11. Can you tell us about your future books?
I am in the middle of writing a single M&B Regency title, because I've done several series for them, but after this one I have to finish the third in the Dynasty trilogy. The first came out in USA this month - Forbidden Lady. I am not sure when it comes out here, because there is a Regency trilogy scheduled for later this year, and I think they want two other Regency stories after that. For Severn House I am writing a crime series set in the 1920's and I had a wonderful review for the first from Booklist yesterday so I am still glowing. I may write some sagas for someone, but that is in the future. Mostly it is M&B and the crime that I have in mind for now.