Today we have author Anna Campbell joining us. Thank you so much for taking time off to be here with us today.
Hey, Ashleigh, I’m delighted to be here. Thank you for inviting me. I’m a fellow manic reader so I’m sure I’ll fit right in, LOL!
First thing first, congratulations on your latest release Captive of Sin. Why don’t you tell us a little about it?
Captive of Sin is my fourth historical romance for Avon and it features a couple of firsts for me. My first virginal heroine and my first marriage of convenience story – although it’s a marriage of convenience story with a twist! It’s set in 1821 and most of the story takes place in Cornwall and on Jersey in the Channel Islands. Sir Gideon Trevithick returns home to his family estate after facing torture and imprisonment in India where he was working as an undercover agent for the East India Company. On his way back to Cornwall, he stumbles across a runaway heiress calling herself Sarah Watson. This girl is in reality Lady Charis Weston, England’s greatest heiress, and she’s fleeing her brutal stepbrothers who are trying to force her into a marriage that will give them access to her fortune. This chance encounter will change both Gideon and Charis forever – and promise a passion beyond anything they’ve ever dreamed. As I’m writing this, a couple of early reviews have come in. Publishers Weekly called the story ‘luscious’ and Romantic Times gave it a Top Pick and a K.I.S.S. Award so I’m really happy about that!
I must ask, where did you get your inspiration for Gideon?
Oh, Gideon is such a knight in shining armor, I just love him! He goes out to India as an idealistic, intellectual younger son and becomes a man of action through his undercover work. He’s already become disillusioned about British rule in India when he’s captured by the brutal Nawab of Rangapindhi. His refusal to break under torture means when he’s rescued, he returns to England a national hero. Unfortunately, he also returns racked by post-traumatic stress and survivor guilt and utterly convinced he can never be a worthy husband to the woman he wants above all others, Charis. The spark of inspiration for Gideon came from a book I picked up in a bookshop in Scotland. It’s called The Great Game: The Struggle for Empire in Central Asia by Philip Hopkirk. The British agents in this book would put Indiana Jones to shame and many of them came to fairly grisly ends. There’s a famous incident where two really remarkable men, Charles Stoddart and Arthur Conolly, were beheaded in Bukhara in 1842. I started to wonder how someone brave and clever and idealistic who had endured similar experiences – I definitely borrowed elements of Stoddart and Conolly’s story for Gideon’s background – would cope with returning to England and resuming the life he’d left so long ago. Originally my idea was to set Gideon’s background in Central Asia and have him playing a part in the grab for power between Britain and Russia there. But 1821 is a little too early for that so I switched his backstory to India which worked really well.
Where did Charis come from? Is this a character that sprung completely formed into your mind, or is she based on someone you personally know?
I don’t consciously use elements of people I know, although I’m sure I do unconsciously! Occasionally someone might say something that might spark an idea but most of my characters tend to form in my head and then insist I tell their story – yes, I know it sounds a bit mad! When you write books set in the early 19th century, you inevitably spend a lot of time thinking about women and their legal rights – or in the case of the Regency, the lack of them! Basically, a woman in the Regency belonged to her father, her guardian or her husband. Widowhood becomes quite appealing! Of course, if father, guardian or husband was wonderful, you didn’t have a problem. But poor Charis has been left under the control of her unscrupulous stepbrothers after her widowed mother makes an unfortunate marriage then passes away. Charis is brave and resourceful and determined not to be a victim to her stepbrothers’ greed. When she meets Gideon, she uses that bravery and resourcefulness to win his heart. But it’s not easy.
2009 has been a big year for you with 2 releases. What was that like?
I didn’t have a book out in 2008 so it’s fantastic to have two releases in 2009. Mind you, I’ve definitely topped and tailed the year. Tempt the Devil came out in January and now Captive of Sin is out in November.
Every author has his/her own daily rituals. What is your day like?
I get up really early – I mean REALLY early! I generally check email and do stuff like Facebook and then what I do depends on where I am in the deadline schedule. Closer to a deadline, I attack the work in progress. Not so close, I tend to do promo stuff through until about 11am, then I take a break for a couple of hours. Then I head back in the afternoon and usually that’s when I’ll do writing wherever I am on the schedule. Again, how late I go depends on what’s happening. I’m ALWAYS finished for Jeopardy at 7pm! In summer, I throw in a couple of swims in the pool to iron out the kinks sitting at the computer puts into my back. In winter, I usually take a walk, even if it’s only a short one up to the postbox.
What would you say is the one thing you MUST have while you’re writing?
Lots of cups of tea! Seriously, I buy teabags by the hundreds. I wish I could write them off on my tax!
What would you say is the hardest aspect of writing your books?
Getting down the bones of the story is always tough for me. I do a really messy first draft and then spend months crafting that up into something readable. I’ve learned to love the editing process but writing that story in the first place can be like pulling teeth!
How much time do you have to put into research before you actually start writing?
I’ve learnt research can be a black hole that you can disappear into forever. So I’ve become pretty disciplined. Fortunately, these days, I have a good general knowledge of the Regency period so I usually know beforehand if a story will work. Then I read a couple of books on whatever is specific to the story. With Captive of Sin, I read a lot of stuff about the East India Company which was fascinating – one which contains the most amazing tragic love story is The White Mughals by William Dalrymple. Also with Captive of Sin, I had a wonderful time researching Jersey which operated as a kind of Gretna Green for people in the south of England. People could marry there without parental permission, a loophole in the law that Gideon and Charis take full advantage of. I research on the run as I’m writing. That tends to be practical stuff like how long a coach journey would take or specific terminology related to a scene. While I’m writing, I also read a few other books about the period to keep me in the world of the story.
Let’s say we took a peek at your TBR pile. What would we find?
Probably Noah’s Ark and El Dorado and a few things that have gone missing in the Bermuda Triangle. My TBR pile is huge! I’ve just started a fantastic historical romance by Laura Lee Guhrke. It’s one of her Girl Bachelor stories, With Seduction in Mind. Also waiting for me are Black Angel by Linda Howard and Scandals of an Innocent by Nicola Cornick, two of my favorite writers. I’ve also got Jeanne Adams’s Dark and Deadly. I really enjoyed her debut Dark and Dangerous last year. And too many other books to mention!
Anna again thanks so much for being here with us.
Thanks, Ashleigh, it’s been a hoot.
If you want to know more about Anna Campbell and her books you can go to http://www.annacampbell.info/ and read all about her, latest releases and more. She blogs regularly with the Romance Bandits http://romancebandits.blogspot.com and latest information is available on her HarperCollins author page: http://harpercollins.com/authors/31961/Anna_Campbell/index.aspx
Read a little about Captive of Sin
He pledged his honor to keep her safe…
Returning home to Cornwall after unspeakable tragedy, Sir Gideon Trevithick comes upon a defiant beauty in danger, and vows to protect her whatever the cost. He’s dismayed to discover that she’s none other than Lady Charis Weston, England’s wealthiest heiress-and that the only way to save her from the violent stepbrothers determined to steal her fortune is to wed her himself! Now Gideon must hide the dark secrets of his life from the bride he desires more with every heartbeat.
She promised to show him how to love – and desire – again…
Charis has heard all about Gideon, the dangerously handsome hero with the mysterious past. She’s grateful for his help, but utterly unwilling to endure a marriage of convenience-especially to a man whose touch leaves her breathless. Desperate to drive him mad with passion, she would do anything to make Gideon lose control-and fall captive to irresistible, undeniable sin
Want more? Captive of Sin is now available from all good booksellers including Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Avon books.