Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Anna Campbell GuestBlog: The Honorable Ancestors

Contest!!! Anna’s favorite answer from one LCB wins a signed copy of “Claiming the Courtesan,” and 3 others win signed cover flats.

I invited Anna Campbell to visit with us the moment I realized that folks were chatting all over the romance b'sphere about her extraordinary new Avon release, "Claiming the Courtesan." "Chatting" is my polite way of saying: gnawing at an issue that, while important, disregarded the fact that Campbell's written -- and Lucia Macro at Avon's nurtured -- one of the most exciting romance novels released in ages, one which offers great hope that a new era of creative freedom for romance writers and readers is on the horizon.

To say that Campbell is "bold" or "takes no prisoners" in creating the novel implies that she wrote it to cause controversy. I believe she wrote it because she had to, and that the choices she made in imbuing her characters' actions/responses were authentic and
admirable in this atmosphere wherein even Pollyanna, here, wants to scream, "strap on your emotional intelligence, for God's sake, and stop the 'historical psychodynamics revision' madness that brands Campbell anti-woman, anti-feminist, and pro-sexual abuse." Since you know me well, of course, I'd be bellowing "with a cyber-smile," as we all do around here when we offer our opinions. :)

Today, Anna writes with fondness about the Old School novels -- and the women and men who wrote and read them -- which we often give props to here at RBtheBlog and RBtheBook. Please offer Anna your warmest Bella buongiorno as she visits us on Aussie time...

Firstly, Michelle, thank you so much for asking me to be a guest on Romance: By the Blog. I’m delighted to be here!

As many of you know, Avon has just published my debut novel, CLAIMING THE COURTESAN. Since then, there’s been an avalanche of Internet commentary about this book including accusations that it’s a throwback to the “bad old days of romance”.

My personal view is that phrases like this show a want of respect to the women who blazed the trail that romance writers now wander in such numbers. And never accuse me of avoiding a good cliché when it’s available!

Yes, those books were of their time in their attitudes and themes, but that’s an accusation you can level at any piece of art. I still remember how mesmerized I was when as a teenager I picked up my first historical romance, in the current sense of the words. It was THE WOLF AND THE DOVE by Kathleen Woodiwiss. I was transfixed by the energy and vividness of Woodiwiss’s writing and the fact that the heroine’s journey was utterly central to the story.

Those forerunning historicals were a publishing sensation, inspired a whole generation of writers and led directly to the huge variety of modern romance we enjoy now. Whenever I pick up a J.R. Ward or a Loretta Chase or a Nora Roberts, I’m grateful to those early writers who created an environment where I’m so spoilt for choice when it comes to finding a good romance to read.


What was the book that converted you
to reading romance?


My favorite answer gets a signed copy of CLAIMING THE COURTESAN and the three runners-up get signed coverflats. Good luck!

Visit Anna at AnnaCampbell.info .
***
Encore! Please read this week's new Feature and AuthorView at Romance: B(u)y the Book!

74 comments:

CM said...

I would never say that Anna Campbell's debut "takes no prisoners." Verity can attest to the fact that it took prisoners very, very effectively. ;)

I loved it. In fact, I think I loved it for all the reasons that the haters hated it. It didn't shy away from the complex questions that it raised. I don't believe that everything in our world should be sweetness and light, or that we should only find pleasure from that which is golden.

Caffey said...

Morning Anna. I haven't had the joy to read this but can't wait til I can!!

Oh to think of the book that pulled me into romance...I have to go with the one I remember.. ANNIE'S SONG my Catherine Anderson. Being deaf myself, I was crying hysterically at the end of that one!! It was super!!! I know I might have read others but I never remembered titles and all since I've been reading as a teen til now (way long, LOL) and remembered having a checklist reading everyone of Victoria Holt's Gothic romances but not remembering what the books were about now and all. So the one I remember when I went back to reading romance after my marraige and kids, was ANNIE'S SONG. If you haven't read that one Anna, I bet you'd love it as well!
A joy to meet you! Cathie

Michelle Buonfiglio said...

Buongiorno, Anna, and welcome Bellas old (figurativel) and new (literally) :)

Don't I LOVE Old School, and we have several Bellas who just might trot out faves they talk of often here. Of course, they'll pretend they've never recc'd the books before, so please, try not to roll your eyeballs -- that romance novel reaction we love so -- overmuch.

Hi,Caffey. Welcome back! I've heard of that novel, and have a fave OS Catherine Anderson also. In "Simply Love," the hero is a total jerk who tries to make a mistress of the pristine daughter of one of the workers in his mines. Well, the innocent chick unwittingly and not so unwittingly foils his dastardly plot at every turn. Anderson makes the situations so comical, that one begins to feel almost sorry for the poor bastard. (You can read my Old Flames review of it at RBtheBook.com)

It's totally cool also that you found a novel that you can relate to so well. I keep looking for one with a heroine who's got a kidney transplant and has to fight a valiant struggle against steroid-induced body hair growth and the strapping, overbearing jerk who wants to master her heart and body, but haven't stumbled across that one, yet.:)

'mornin CM. Interesting point when you write: I don't believe that everything in our world should be sweetness and light, or that we should only find pleasure from that which is golden.

That's a concept not uncommon in the discussion of good erotica, but not one usually applied to romance. Which is absolutely not to say CC was about titillation rather than a journey toward love/commitment. You can, as Willie Wonka says, "Strike that; reverse it."

The imagery, scenarios, actions, etc., that elicit bonding emotions, feelings of sensuality, sexual arousal, aren't always those thought of as "first-tier" responses understood as happy, uplifting, supportive. This is true in real life, so it follows that they'd apply to fictional characterizations. We're not so used to this in romance -- more so in "literary" fiction -- which makes really difficult writing the redemption arc, as well as consuming the novel for some readers.

I'm going to think on my fave OS, but I knowknowknow Marsha Canham's are definitely among them. "The Last Arrow," especially.

:)

Anna Campbell said...

Hi CM. Thanks for saying you liked CTC so much. Actually, I was thinking about your comments in terms of what people think about as HEA. For me, a HEA is the couple have weathered storms and come together and will weather future storms that will only make their relationship stronger. I know, however, that that seems like a fairly grim prospect to some people. I think it's horses for courses!

Cathie, I haven't read Annie's Song but it sounds great. I'll have to check it out. And I was a huge Victoria Holt fan - I think there are definitely gothic elements in CTC and even more so in my second book, Untouched. I love that villain/hero mix the old gothics did so well - you know, you're not sure if he's going to kiss her or kill her!

Hey, Michelle, strange you mention The Last Arrow. I was trying to remember that book today when I was talking about something else - that's the one about Robin Hood and co, isn't it? The last in a trilogy? Fantastic read and a wonderful tortured hero. There's a book called The Baron by Juliana Garnet that I just love as well. The hero is the Sheriff of Nottingham - it's so intense.

Um, heading off to bed now!

Michelle Buonfiglio said...

BUONANOTTE, ANNA! YOU GO, AUSSIE GIRL.

WE'LL LOOK FORWARD TO YOUR RETURNING THIS AFTERNOON TO CHAT SOME MORE!

Stacy~ said...

Morning Anna! I actually have CoC in my TBR pile, but I wanted to make sure I was "in the mood" for it - some days I just want light and fluffy and I have a bit of a feeling that's not what you wrote *g*. Also, I've read much of the commentary and didn't want that to distort my reading experience, either. I look forward to one day soon sitting down and getting lost in those pages.

My very first romance was a Harlequin Presents by Carole Mortimer called "Burning Obsession" and it was loaded with "forced seduction", but even at the tender(?) age of 12, I adored it. Yet I don't think it was until I read Judith McNaught's "Almost Heaven" that I knew deep in my heart I was a romance reader for life. She wrote intensely emotional, beautiful historicals that I couldn't get enough of, and even now it's still a struggle finding an author who fills that void (as now she writes primarily contemp romantic suspsnse).

Though as I've gotten older, my tastes have changed, and what appealed to me when I was in my teens doesn't really satisfy my reading needs now that I'm in my mid-30's. Yet my keepers have managed to stand the test of time - my test.

Have a great day Bellas - you know the drill - I'll catch ya later :)

Ai Yin said...

The romance that pulled me in? I'd have to say Stephanie Lauren's The Promise in a Kiss. Well, actually for me, it's more the place that pulled me into romance: University of Melbourne's student union library. It was the first library for me that has a romance section (and the first book I pulled out was The Promise in a Kiss, because I studied the family tree before selecting it as "first"). *sigh* those were the days...

Minna said...

The first romance book I ever read was written by Caroline Cortney, but I can't remember what it was called. And I was reading it as a Finnish translation and the Finnish title might have been totally different from the English one, anyway.

Michelle Buonfiglio said...

'mornin, Stace! I love the old McNaught, too, especially the medievals. And I love what you wrote here: Yet my keepers have managed to stand the test of time - my test.


Marilyn wrote something similar yesterday, and I think sorta the same every time I rec a book in an opinion Feature, except I'm thinking the readers make their own choices anyway, and it's cool when we like the same novels, but it don't hafta be that way. :)

But the point is, one chick's trash is another's treasure, and I'm glad you don't dis anyone else's choices.

And I know you and the other Bellas don't trash anybody else's fantasies, and that is so flippin cool. Which is why I was particularly proud of the way you all discussed Anna's book here at RBtheBlog.

[Alert: Squishy Fangrl Moment -- Hold On To Your Breakfasts.]

Have I said lately how honored I am that you Bellas not only show up every day, but showed me "the way you wanted to go" here was positive and non-judgemental? In fact, this weekend, I'm speaking at Washington Romance Writers (you guys shored me up when I did it last year when I was really nervous). Anywayz, here's the title of my presentation:

Snaxy Guys, Smarty Pantses, and Love Online: How Romance: B(u)y the Book Readers Created a Community

(sniff, sniff. I'm so verra full of emotion).

Now, I need to go write that presentation instead of avoiding it by hanging here.

Michelle Buonfiglio said...

minna, you always make me laugh, cause I'm thinkin, "sheesh, I can barely read in English..." And I can never remember titles or character names.

*sigh* those were the days...

Yup, ai yin, I agree totally. Nothing, nothing like those first romances read and that feeling of having stumbled upon something so nourishing and exciting.

When I really think back, I remember reading a category in college that belonged to the woman I rented a room from. It had something to do with the heroine being poor and having been hired by the hero to be companion to his elderly mother. Contemporary. I remember the h told the hn to buy a wardrobe, etc., at his expense, but she was frugal and got lovely clothing very inexpensively cause she needed it, but wasn't totally comfortable taking his money.

In my very young, old-fashioned "women should order the least expensive thing on the menu on a date, etc" mentality (maybe some of you around my age -- 42 -- who were also brought up by depression-era parents w/ old ideas about gender dynamics understand this) it made perfect sense to me. But the heroine taught the guy lessons in empathy, which I thought was very powerful, because emotional connections in relationships were/are important to me. hmmm. Thanks for making me think about that, ai yin.

Maggie Robinson said...

Hi, Anna, we've already "corresponded" via Romance Vagabonds, where I said the controversy surrounding CTC made me read it VERY carefully. I thought you were careful to convey both characters' confusion very well. It was obvious to me that the heroine, despite her desire for freedom, had strong desire for Justin as well. She'd walled off her feelings for him by necessity. Anyway, enough psychobabble---the book was great! Lots and lots of luck in the future. You're an autobuy for me now.

As a teen I read the usual Bronte and Austen, but romance didn't catch fire for me until Georgette Heyer.I discovered her on a vacation in England and immediately read everything I could get my hands on. I can't remember the first book, but it was the beginning of a beautiful book addiction. Even without full-on frontal nudity---or even a plain old kiss--- the sexual tension and sheer fun of Heyer is unsurpassed.

azteclady said...

Buongiorno, Bellas, Michelle! Welcome, Ms Campbell!

I have been reading romance for... ack, three decades? (Started in middle school) So I don't remember what book 'converted me' As an adult, though, my first keeper romance was "Untamed" by Elizabeth Lowell. There's a special place in my heart for well written historicals.

I have CtC in my TBR pile, waiting (much like Stacy) for me to be in the perfect mood for it.

Michelle, thank you for providing us with this space!

Julie in Ohio said...

Welcome to RBTB, Anna!!!!

Mornin', Bellas!!

In middle school and through high school, I managed to read all of Danielle Steel's books. Once I graduated, life interferred with reading so I wasn't doing much of it. After I gave birth to my first child and found I had some down time while she slept, I discovered Julia Quinn and haven't looked back. I started with historicals(Quinn, Lisa Kleypas, Jane Feathers, Kat Martin, Teresa Medieros) and slowly went into contemps with Nora Roberts and finally into the wild worlds of paras. I wish I had a real thoughful answer but I feel like I was born to read romance and haven't strayed. I love "love" and that is all there is to it. :o)

I haven't read CTC but with all the hype I've heard I'm going to need to get my hands on a copy pronto... :o)

Julie in Ohio said...

"Have I said lately how honored I am that you Bellas not only show up every day, but showed me "the way you wanted to go" here was positive and non-judgemental?"


Michelle-- Your gonna make me blush...
{{{BIG HUGS AND SLOPPY SMOOCHIES}}}

CrystalG said...

I started reading romance as a preteen. Harlequin Presents by Penny Jordan, Anne Mather and Carol Mortimer made me fall in love with romance novels. As I got older I started reading historicals by Judith McNaught, Jude Devereaux and Linda Lael Miller. I have been an avid romance reader ever since.

MaryKate said...

Of course, they'll pretend they've never recc'd the books before, so please, try not to roll your eyeballs -- that romance novel reaction we love so -- overmuch.

Umm, who are you referring to, Michelle?????

Welcome Anna! I'm not kidding when I say that I've been looking forward to your visit since Michelle told me ages ago that you were coming. Michelle and I were chatting last week, and I said to her that I think that Claiming the Courtesan portends a new direction for romance. And I mean that in the very best way. I think that the direction that you've taken with the book is HUGE for romance, and that it will inspire other authors to be courageous in their writing choices too.

I've said it before, but it bears repeating, I'm floored that Avon published this book. Only because it's such a bold book, and very different from what they usually publish.

Like Stacy, I have a HUGE stack of "old school" romance on my keeper shelves. I tend to love the old stuff. In my opinion, the authors were much less concerned with "political correctness" then and as a result they made daring choices. I believe that CtC harkens back to that time.

Now to fall into what Michelle expected me to do:
I just re-read THE WINDFLOWER (for the 100th time) this past week, and was reading with special attention for the "old-school" aspects of it, and also reflecting on what works for me about the novel. First, this is a novel where the hero and heroine don't consummate their relationship until the last quarter of the book. That right there is a bold choice. Nowadays don't you have to have sex by chapter 7 or so? The authors build the sexual tension between the H/H until it's practically a fire. Also, the heroine is the hero's captive, and while she very quickly becomes beloved to the crew she interacts with, she is both drawn to and terrified of him. To juxtapose his reactions, he is at turns frustrated (both emotionally and sexually) by her and is at moments, extremely tender. Their relationship works on every level for me. On top of that, she evolves magically in this book. At the beginning she's a crying mess, but by the end of the book, she literally cold-cocks the hero when he proposes. It's a magnificent moment. BIG SIGH. I love this book!

amy*skf said...

I am so happy you are here today Anna Campbell. Your book is stunning. I could talk about it all day--but I won't.

Marykate are you sure it's only the 100th time? Sorry. I have to get my hands on that.

But it did remind me of my first romance (other than the gothics that I ate in jr. high--and I do mean ate--tore into them)
The Flame and the Flower--it has an opening of a rape, the hero thinks she's a whore, and then the two don't have sex again until almost the end of the book. The tension--my God, the tension. I think Michelle said by the time they finally had sex she had to stop reading it, it was too much.

I actually ended up loving The Wolf and The Dove even more--because it was all about medieval times for me then, but TFandTF will always be held in my heart as my first.

Cm--yes, Verity can attest to that--LOL.

Shannon said...

When I was just a young thing I was reading Stephen King. I loved all of his books, still do. I had never read any romance novels. The first one I ever read was by Nora Roberts. I cannot remember which one it was, though I have read all of hers. She got me hooked and I haven't stopped reading them yet. I have branched out since then and I read all genres of romance.

Kerry Blaisdell said...

My first name (Kerensa) came from a Victoria Holt novel my mother read while pregnant. :?) So growing up, there were romance novels in our house, and my mother never tried to keep me from them. At some point, I picked up a Phyllis Whitney (I think it was "The Golden Unicorn") and then started on Roberta Gellis' "The Roselynde Chronicles". But I think the book that really made me love Romance as a genre was Valerie Sherwood's "Bold Breathless Love." Talk about Old School! :?)

I haven't read CTC yet, but after reading your interview here, I can't wait to try it out. As an as-yet-unpubbed romance author myself, I'm impressed with anyone who breaks the "rules" and gets away with it. Obviously, any controversy means you touched a chord, and that's what it's all about, right?

Thanks so much for blogging here, and for being an inspiration to the rest of us! :?) -- Kerry Blaisdell

flip said...

My very first romance was The Convenient Marriage by Georgette Heyer. I was 12 years old. I have loved romance ever since. However, I clearly remember reading The Flower and The Flame at 14 years old. That book shook up the romance genre. It has never been the same. I like all types of romance novels. I still have my earliest novels. What I don't like are romance censors who want romances to be politically correct. One of my favorite writers is Anne Stuart. Her books are attacked before they are even published. If you don't like an author, don't read her. But she has a right to be published and I have a right to read any book I want.

MaryKate said...

Oh! I forgot to say, my first romance was Irish Thoroughbred by Nora Roberts. Oh did I love it! Silhouette recently re-released it, and it stood the test of time pretty well. I followed it with Captive Bride by Johanna Lindsey. Now that was a great book. So UN-PC it's unbelievable! LOL!

Kathryn Caskie said...

I loved Anna's book. LOVED it. It reminded me of an earlier Stephanie Laurens.

And you know, controversy is not always bad. It might be painful for the author, but its part of the business. Harper Lee once said "I would advise anyone who aspires to a writing career, that before developing his talent he would be wise to develop a thick hide." No truer words...

The fact is that the buzz surrounding CTC is driving readers to the stores to buy the book. I have no doubt that when most readers open the book they will be swept away by the sexual tension, the emotion, the underlying desire and the rich romance of the story. I know I was.

Anna, you are destined for great things. Watch and see.

trish said...

umm I'm sure it was something by Jude Deveraux...my aunt gave it to me as a present. Love the book :)

Anna Campbell said...

Hey, you girls have been busy while I've been getting some shut-eye. I'd say 'beauty sleep' but my mirror would laugh at me.

Stacy, I LOVE light and fluffy! I like my reading to be a buffet - you know, plate one is oysters and smoked salmon, plate two is roast beef and three veg with lashings of gravy (hmm, think that might be CTC) and plate three is chocolate mousse. Hungry now!

Those Judith McNaughts are classics, aren't they? I picked up Whitney, My Love on a seaside holiday when that was the only book at the newsagency (apart from where to go fishing - and I'm not a fisherman!). I read it in one gulp and just went back and re-read it straightaway, it was so great. Actually, when I talk about the sweep and passion and commitment to the story in some of those older books, WML and those other JMs had it in spades, didn't they? You just went where that story took you! When it comes to Harlequin Presents (marketed as Mills and Boons over here), do you remember Anne Mather? They were incredibly hot reading for my teenage self! They were full of cranky Spanish dukes and bossy millionaires, but man, they were fun! There was one called Leopard in the Snow about an injured racing car driver who owned a leopard, as you do!

Anna Campbell said...

Ai Yin, love the Aussie connection! My mum was a romance reader so we always had them about the house. And then my best friend in primary school and I were voracious readers of Harlequin Presents and her older sister was a voracious reader of Barbara Cartland. And my grandmother liked historical sagas and gothics. So clearly, I was born to read romance! No escape really!

Minna, I love the idea of you reading my book in Finnish! I hope they do a translation. I've been to your beautiful country and just loved it (mind you, I've got a yen for cold northern places - I'm a bit of a misfit in lush subtropical Queensland!). You're right about the foreign titles having so little to do with the original. They're doing a German edition of CTC and calling it Rebellische Kusse which I think means rebellious kisses. I always get a picture of the French (kissing) Revolution!

Anna Campbell said...

Michelle, I think that's lovely about the community. I read your original column on CTC and then the comments and thought what a great balanced discussion you all had. So I can't tell you how delighted I was when you asked me to come and meet everyone. Awwww! We'll all be crying into our beer soon! And an Aussie girl hates to dilute her beer!

I LOVE knowing how people come to romance. I read my first category when I was eight - my mum gave it to me to shut me up, which I'm sure none of you will believe ;-) What got me in and what still gets me in is the intense relationship I develop with those two major characters as they follow their usually rocky path to true love. Yeah, the sex scenes are usually hotter now, but the basic story pattern hasn't changed that much!

Anna Campbell said...

Hello again, Maggie! Yes, I do remember you from RV - thank you for those comments. Ah, the divine Georgette! She's an institution over here (I think it's because we still have a lot of British influence). I remember being a very miserable teenager locked away in a boarding school - oh, dear, this is starting to sound like a Dickens novel - and devouring her and Victoria Holt and Jean Plaidy, all of whom filled shelves in our school library. GH absolutely stands the test of time, doesn't she? And she has a huge range in her writing from the light sparkly ones like Sprig Muslin or The Grand Sophy to something like The Convenient Marriage which is really heart-wrenching.

Azteclady, I hope you enjoy CTC when you read it! You won't believe it, but I've never read an Elizabeth Lowell! Must rectify the omission.

Hi Julie! Thanks for the welcome. Sounds like you're as addicted to romance reading as I am. Julia Q's stuff just sparkles, doesn't it? I'm like you - I read basically anything with a romance and a happy ending. I'm a genre tart!

Jen in WA said...

My mother did not read romances, but I pretty much stumbled upon them. I read Danielle Steel books in high school, but mainly stucky with mysteries and action-adventures.

About 5 years ago, I read "Hot Rain" by Kat Martin and decided to try some other romances. I was hooked when I read "To Catch a Countess" by Patricia Grasso. And it's still one of my all-time favorite historials.

Julie in Ohio said...

LOL, Anna! Genre tart. The way I bounce around from one to another, I guess that describes me pretty well. :p

Anna Campbell said...

CrystalG, those names brought back such memories for me. I think you looked in the box under my bed when I was about 16 and just copied down the authors! Thank you!

Hi Marykate! Love your comments. The weird thing is when I read the Wolf and the Dove that was a pivotal moment in my life. I finished that book (after the world not getting a peep out of me for all 600-odd pages of it - they published them much longer in those days!) and said, this is what I want to do when I grow up. I want to write books like this for Avon. I must have been 13 or 14, I think, and I'd always wanted to write but this was like a lightbulb for me. Move forward more years than I care to count and it actually happened. Still pinch myself! I think it's amazing that Avon (and Lucia the goddess) took a risk on a new writer like this and on this book. Although I have to admit that it didn't seem terrifically controversial when I was writing it - it seemed to me absolutely that those characters would do nothing but what they actually did. I'm a reader who if I'm following a believable character arc, I'll go with the story, even if it takes me into dark areas. Mind you, I've also realized since becoming Princess Blog this month and spending a lot of time thinking about my reading choices, that I'm very drawn to anti-heroes. Not thuggish murderers like Bill Sykes. But someone like Francis Crawford from the Dorothy Dunnett books or Heathcliff or the Dracula character in the Francis Ford Coppola film. I love that battle between light and dark in a character, especially when light eventually triumphs against all the odds.

The Windflower is a book I hear about a lot. I don't know that it was ever for sale over here - we get an odd selection of books in Oz, certainly not all the American releases. In fact, there's a whole network of specialist romance bookstores here that make a living importing the US releases as they come out over there.

Anna Campbell said...

Amy, thanks for saying that about my book! Strangely, I can talk about it all day too - you must drop by for a cup of tea!

I think those KLW books made such an impression on me because they were the first books that really took me into the bedroom (Anne Mather could be pretty hot but the detail was a little sketchy sometimes - we are talking the early '70s here!). Not just for the sex, interesting as that was for my teenage self, but for the intensity of the emotion she generated between the couple. Waiting for Heather and BB to do it properly had me absolutely riveted - talk about sexual tension! I still think the love scenes that stick in my mind are the ones that are hot emotionally as well as physically.

Anna Campbell said...

Shannon, interesting you say Nora proved your gateway to romance. I have a lot of very intellectually superior friends who look down on my reading tastes (I keep telling them they don't know what they're missing!). One had visited Chincoteague Island on a trip to the US and wanted to read a book set in that area. So all unwary, she picked up one of Nora's Quinn family books. Fantastic choice. Those books are amazing, full of truth and emotion and heart. She nearly died when I told her that this book she was raving about was officially a despised ROMANCE!

Anna Campbell said...

My first name (Kerensa) came from a Victoria Holt novel my mother read while pregnant. :?) So growing up, there were romance novels in our house, and my mother never tried to keep me from them. At some point, I picked up a Phyllis Whitney (I think it was "The Golden Unicorn") and then started on Roberta Gellis' "The Roselynde Chronicles". But I think the book that really made me love Romance as a genre was Valerie Sherwood's "Bold Breathless Love." Talk about Old School! :?)
Hi Kerry - what a gorgeous name Kerensa is! You lucked out there, didn't you? Actually, the controversy has left me stunned - honestly, I just set out to tell a story that was true to those characters. Mind you, having been unpublished for 27 years and with no idea that I would ever sell, it gave me a lot of freedom. Use your time before you sell to find out what your voice is and what stories you want to tell. I thought I was a comic writer - who knew? Not a lot of belly laughs in CTC! The weird thing is that I thought the fact that my heroine sleeps with men for money would be the no-no but that has hardly raised an eyebrow. Good luck with your writing!

MaryKate said...

Anna - Tell us a little about your next work. Is it as dark as CTC?

Also, have you read and enjoyed any newer romances lately?

Anna Campbell said...

Hi Flip! I love Anne Stuart too. She writes heroes who are a good example of that light and dark thing I'm talking about. And she's brave enough to make them genuinely dark so that the battle really means something. She's coming to our Australian conference this year and I'm going to make such a fool of myself, I'm such a fan girl! Squeeeeeel!

Anna Campbell said...

Marykate, I think back to some of the Rosemary Rogers books I read just after reading the Woodiwiss ones - man, they raise my eyebrows NOW, let alone when I was a naive teenager. And I remember reading Captive Bride and loving it when it first came out - but hey, I'm a sheikh geek from way back.

Hey, Kathie! Great to see you here! Thank you for saying that about CTC. Actually, I firmly believe that if anyone buys a book and reads it, they have a right to say what they like about it. That's democracy.

Anna Campbell said...

Trish, JD's Knight in Shining Armor is an absolute classic too. I think that was the first time travel I read and I just adored the hero.

Jen, so glad you stumbled onto romance. As I said earlier, I think a lot of people believe the hype without actually tasting it to see, and it's their loss. I haven't read the Patricia Grasso. I'll have to get hold of it. Love me a good historical!

Lois said...

Hi again! LOL :) I sort of have a two part answer. . .

Some years ago in my college bookstore, I picked up Breakfast in Bed by Sandra Brown, then I got the only other two they had. That was my intro, but stopped after that. No real reason why, but I read two of those, especially Breakfast in Bed quite a bit.

Well, a couple years ago in the same college bookstore, (although it was redone and in a new location, but close enough LOL) I was looking around (still had the same darn Sandra Brown books LOL) I looked at the others, and picked up Lady Sophia's Lover by Lisa Kleypas, then got the only other one of hers they had.

Then I left the college finally, and got a anthology type romance in the local Walgreen, one that spans a couple of time periods including today, and discovered a) boy, do I really like historical and b) time to go to the bookstore and start getting more! :)

So hundreds of books later. . . you can say that Sandra Brown started me on that road, but Lisa Kleypas kept me going, finally. LOL :)

Lois

Anna Campbell said...

Marykate, thank you for asking! The check's in the mail! ;-)

My second book is called Untouched and it's a very dark fairytale - sort of like a combination between Beauty and the Beast and The Sleeping Beauty. That comparison will make sense when you read it! It's not linked to CTC in anything except atmosphere - I think it has a similar dark sensuality. It's a very different story, although it does include a kidnapping! I'm proud to announce that book three doesn't, so clearly I'm extending my artistic horizons! ;-) I'm putting an excerpt and the back cover blurb up on my website at the start of May so I hope you'll pop by and check it out. It comes out in December.

Anna Campbell said...

Marykate, in my excitement, I forgot to answer the second part of your question. Actually, this last year, I've discovered a stack of new authors who have launched my boat. I know everybody says it, but I love the J.R. Ward Brotherhood of the Black Dagger series. Haven't read the latest one but the first three were mind-bogglingly good. Nalini Singh's first two paranormals are fantastic - Slave to Sensation and Visions of Heat. I really enjoyed Kathryn Smith's historical vampires. I discovered Liz Carlyle - her The Devil to Pay is a fantastic read with a really sexy hero. Really looking forward to the new Loretta Chase. She's one of my writing goddesses.

Anna Campbell said...

Hello Lois! We meet only in the most interesting places! Love your story about starting romance reading. Mind you, you picked two goodies to start on, didn't you? Sometimes the book gods smile on you!

MaryKate said...

Nalini Singh's first two paranormals are fantastic - Slave to Sensation and Visions of Heat.

DO TELL, Anna!! I've been nagging at Michelle for close to a year now to read the Singh's. Maybe your recommendation will have more weight than mine!!

Anna Campbell said...

Marykate, I just found them enormously compelling stories. And she's done a wonderful job with the world building. Michelle, give them a go! Marykate is clearly a woman of taste and discrimination ;-)

amy*skf said...

Anna--of course it wasn't controversial to you--it was your story, or rather their story, Verity and Justin's--you weren't writing it to cause controversy, I truly think that would show. And that's why these characters ring true--you truly follow their arc.

Their painful, confused, passionate arc.

I'll put that soap box away now.

Actually, Anna, even here it's hard to get The Windflower--and I may give MK a hard time about it, but only because I'm dying to read it.

MaryKate said...

Amy - If you email me offline, I'll loan you my copy, if you like. You can just ship it back to me when you're done...

marykate317@verizon.net

Julie in Ohio said...

"Marykate is clearly a woman of taste and discrimination"

Anna-- We don't call MaryKate our book pimp extraordinaire, for nothin'. :o)

orannia said...

Morning Anna, Michelle and Bellas :)

It's so nice to be back :) Hmmm, my first ever romance (I'm not counting the Barbara Cartland books I read when I was 17 because they just made me giggle) would be:

Knave's Wager (by Loretta Chase)

I know everyone always talks about Lord of Scoundrels (which I have yet to read but am hunting for :), but I REALLY love Knave's Wager! The hero is cunning and devious and will go to any lengths but in the end is bowled over by the heroine, who I have a real affinity for. You really see them fall in love - it doesn't happen quickly or easily and you know it is about who they are and not what they look like (although the hero is 'very' nice :)

orannia

Carol said...

I feel like I've always read romance! I started with Gone With the Wind when I was eleven and moved on to the gothics by Phyllis A. Whitney, Victoria Holt and Mary Stewart. I read all of Kathleen Woodiwiss and Rosemary Rogers books and now I have too many favorites to mention them all! I especially love Nora's In Death series!

MaryKate said...

I know everyone always talks about Lord of Scoundrels (which I have yet to read but am hunting for :), but I REALLY love Knave's Wager!

Orianna - I'm one of those who resisted LoS for a really long time. Even after reading it the first time, I wasn't completely sold on the hero. But the heroine, well, she's among my all-time favorites. She's headstrong and smart, and kicks the crap out of the hero. What's not to love about that?!?!

sharon said...

Romances had such an appeal to me all my life. I started to read all of Victoria Holt's novels, and then gradually became interested in so many others. I loved the M.M.Kay novels and all of Daphne DuMaurier's books.

Anna Campbell said...

Amy, thank you for that. Hey, and soapboxes are welcome at my place any time!

Marykate, you're the book pimp? What a great career choice!Interesting what you say about LOS. To me, it's an all time classic. I loved Mr. Impossible too. Have you read that?

Orannia, I so agree with you about Knaves' Wager. It's a book I've read and re-read so many times. Talking about character arcs, don't Lilith and Julian take incredible journeys in that? In such a short book, it's miraculous, truly masterful. Another one of her earlier books that I really like is The Sandalwood Princess.

Carol, how could I forget Mary Stewart? She was in that school library along with the others I mentioned. I loved how well researched her books were - I came out them knowing about Greece or Lippizaner horses or the South of France.

Sharon, lovely to see you again. There's an epic sweep to the books that you mention that I just love.

anne said...

reading romances transports me to another place and time which is what I want to achieve. When I read these wonderful novels by authors whose writing I enjoy it is gratifying. Epics by Diana Gabaldon and others by Susan Howatch. I read every single novel that she wrote and loved them all.

Michelle Buonfiglio said...

AAAAAAAG! Here I am hooraying in MN! I lovelovelove Mr. Impossible. Is it Rupert? He's one of my romance novel boyfriends. There's a scene when he realizes he's in love w/ the heroine that is absolutely genius! And an UATET (Up Against the Egyptian Tomb. Sounds creepy, but it's really hot) scene. hoo doggie. Loretta Chase seems to be like Susan E Phillips to writers, big inspiration faves.

Oh, I love that hero and Loretta Chase. She has a great theory about why we love Regency heroes in her RBtheBook interview.

I am soooo glad everyone's gathering here today. Truly, Anna, I think we'd love to have a beer with you at the pub, watered down with our hysterical fangrl tears or not.

What I like best about today -- besides using it as an excuse not to write -- is how many great Old School novels you're recc'ing. Moremoremore for the TBR pile. Oh, how my husband hates when I bring more books into the house.

Anna, can we add "genre tart" to the RBtheBook Lexicon of Love? We'll give you full credit, Bella!

Anna Campbell said...

Actually, Anne, that's what I love about a really good romance too. It takes me away to another world for a few hours - and it's a world with a guaranteed happy ending, even if there's angst and drama beforehand. Actually, especially if there's angst and drama beforehand!

Michelle, another Rupert groupie! Isn't he the most gorgeous hero? And I think it's done so slyly that everyone thinks he's so stupid and he's actually the smartest person in that story, for all that Daphne has the big brainbox. Mind you, I love books where the gorgeous guy falls for the bookish gal. Fits in quite nicely with my fantasy life ;-) Oh, mamma, the up against an Egyptian tomb scene!

Hmm, buy me a beer, and you can certainly have genre tart!

ellie said...

I have always been interested in romance novels. My favorites are really from way back but they are cherished and memorable. I enjoy so many but Josephine Cox is my favorite of all.

Anna Campbell said...

Actually, this will test you, Bellas. Does anyone know an English romance writer called Teresa Denys? She wrote two remarkable books around 1980 and then was tragically killed in a car accident. One book was a first person set in the Italian renaissance called The Silver Devil and the second, and my favorite, was set in 17th century Spain and was called The Flesh and the Devil. Clearly she had a soft spot for devils! Whenever people say they don't write 'em like that any more, I think of her and I sigh because while they were very non-PC, they are probably amongst the most intense reading experiences I've ever had in a lifetime of burying my nose in a book.

Anna Campbell said...

Ellie, interesting you mention Josephine Cox. My late mother was a mad keen reader - I recommend having a mother who's a reader to everyone! And she just loved JC. Catherine Cookson and Danielle Steel were two other favorites of hers. Our tastes were quite different - she loved that huge sweep of story and character you get in those saga stories. I loved the chance to just concentrate on the hero and heroine and watch them falling in love step by step. I said it before - but isn't it wonderful that romance today caters for so many different preferences?

ev said...

I am so glad I have a chance to drop in quickly tonite. Work has been hell to say the least. Damn slave drivers. The big boss is coming in tomorrow and we have been busting butt. On the positive side, Young Adult and Romance are alphabatized. I can't believe how many people don't know their alphabet.

I haven't had a chance to read the other comments, so I have no clue what everyone else has picked book wise, but I found it amusing that you mentioned The Wolf and The Dove. That was the first historical that i read too. Many of the scenes have stuck with me all these years later, more so than any other novel I have read. Is that like a baby chick imprinting on the first animal it sees??? LOL

I can't wait to curl up and read your book when I have a day-or night- to do it. Right now I am lucky to read the funnies everyday.

Anna Campbell said...

Ev, you sound like you've had an awful day! Hope things settle down for you soon. I laughed at your baby chick idea - you might be right, scenes from TWATD have stuck with me too and it's years since I read it. Quack!

Caffey said...

Anna, I have to tell you this story, because I remember it each time when we talk about the first time reading romances. My mom was so into the series books from Harlequin, that each evening I'd go visit her in her room and we'd sit together and she'd tell me about a book she read that day and others she read on her shelf. So I'd pick out a book and bring it back the next night to pick out another book. I loved those evenings spent with her, especially about the Georgette Heyer books. Over time I started bringing her historical romance, the big books! But I have to smile cuz one day when I was older, she brought out a box of all the historicals she was hiding from me til she thought I was ready for :)

Caffey said...

Yes Anna, I have Teresa Denys The Silver Devil here on my keepers shelf. But I never knew she had another book. Thank you for that. I'm going to have to find that one for sure!

Anna Campbell said...

Cathie, that was a lovely story about you and your mother. And you know the Silver Devil? Hardly anybody else does! Fantastic! See if you can find the other one, I still re-read it and it still gets me in.

Manda said...

Whenever I get a chance to drop by the Bella House anymore there's always a party going on! Hey Bellas, it's vagabond Bella Manda, who appears every few months then disappears again. But it doesn't mean I don't love yall. How can I not when you're talking about Rupert Carsington, the greatest hero EVER!

Hi Anna! Glad to see you here with the Bellas. I think CM's assessment is dead on. It's a complex story and it deals with some dark issues--and that's okay! Life is complicated and life is dark. Romance, like people, comes in all different forms and that's what makes the genre so great. And like Marykate I am surprised Avon published this--it's more daring than they've been in a long time, and I think it's great! When publishing houses take risks that makes the choices for readers much more varied! Which I love!

My first romance was, I think, Marion Chesney's The Taming of Annabel. Regency trad. Lots of slang. Loved it. Around the same time I read this "American Regency" called A Duet for My Lady, and they kissed with tongues and I thought it was soooo racy. I was probably in the sixth grade or so. Now, of course, I read Emma Holly without batting an eyelash...LOL.

Judy said...

The book that got me seriously into romance has to be "Perfect" by Judith McNaught. Even though I did read my first romance novel at the age 14, I was never quite serious about it and I think I was a bit immature to grasp the full extent of the emotional part that is such a big part of the romance genre.

Little Lamb Lost said...

Hi Anna!

No need to put me in the draw, I apparently have a copy of your book waiting for me for when I get back home. Friends, families and wishlists are a great thing.

I tend to love romance novels for watching the development of interesting and wonderful characters' relationships. Two books that I have still on my keeper shelf are Patricia Gaffney's To Have and To Hold, and Johanna Lindsey's Prisoner of My Desire. Both of those books were remarkable to me since they took such a sensitive situation and could still convince me of the worthiness of the hero and the love that grew. I am looking forward to submerging myself in a good read with your book.

Playground Monitor said...

Late checking in and too tired to even think. I've been cleaning house cause the grandbaby's coming to stay for a couple days. If there's a speck of something on the floor, she'll find it and pop it in her mouth. She's 10 months old and very curious. I'll probably be scarce until Tuesday. And by Tuesday I'll remember why young people give birth to babies and not fifty-something-year-old women (except a rare few who are obviously brain damaged). :grin:

Marilyn

Michelle Buonfiglio said...

Hullo Play, and Manda and Bellas we haven't seen in a while. We'll miss you til tuesday, Play.

Can't tell you all how great a day it's been here. Love reading all your reminiscences about your first loves. And I've got a very long list of TBROSs now, thankyouvrerymuch.

Anna, Anna, you are charming, my Aussie Bella. Thanks so much for visiting and showing us such a good time. Any fan of Rupert Carsington's a friend of mine. :) So, please, say you'll visit us when your next novel's out, Princess Blog.

Enjoy the rest of your evening, everyone. I'm for bed. Buonanotte!

Anna Campbell said...

Manda, interesting what you say about CTC maybe extending the range of what's published right now. That can only be good! Laughed at you being shocked with the tongue kissing in your early romance reading. I remember being about 11 and reading in an Anne Mather called Master of Zaracas (clearly made an impression) that he "explored her mouth." For some reason, that grossed my 11-year-old self out totally. Ewww!

Judy, interesting what you said about needing the emotional maturity to really appreciate romance books. I definitely know my view of love and romance is different now than it was, say, twenty years ago!

LLL, hello again! Fantastic that you've got my book waiting for you when you get home. I hope you enjoy it. I haven't read To Have and to Hold although I'm a great fan of PG's. Love her Wild at Heart which is a wild child raised by wolves story if anyone's read it. Prisoner of my Desire was such an intense read, wasn't it?

Marilyn, good luck for the visit!

Anna Campbell said...

Michelle, I was going to drop you a note privately and try and bribe you to let me come back (beer? Dinner with Rupert - nah, if that's up for grabs, I get it!). I'd absolutely love to. Thank you so much for letting me visit. It's been great fun, hasn't it? What's been great is that I've talked about books I loved and books that I look forward to discovering. How perfect is that? Sleep tight! And thank you, Bellas, for a wonderfully warm welcome!

Anna x

Kimberly L said...

It was Jude Deveraux's The Montgomery and the Taggerts series. Then I found Julie Garwood's books and have been reading romance books since.

Anna Campbell said...

Great choices, Kimberly. As I said earlier, I really remember A Knight in Shining Armor with great fondness!

Minna said...

Michelle, Finnish is my mother tongue and I've studied a few languages over the years besides English. In Finland you have to learn a couple of languages besides your own mother tongue, whether it happens to be Finnnish, Swedish or Sami.

Stacy~ said...

Minna, I've been to Finland, and I can't wait to go back. Met many of my relatives there. Loved it.

MK, speakin' of book-pimpin', me thinks another post is in order...hmmm??? Email me :)

Caffey said...

Congrats winners! Thanks Anna and Michelle!