Tuesday, September 25, 2012

50th party blog guest - Annie West

I’ve known Annie West for some years now – and I actually ‘met’ her when I won one of her books at Kate Walker’s 50th celebrations. I was totally blown away by her Sheikh, and she’s been on my autobuy list ever since! I haven’t yet met her in person, but we share a love of castles and France and chocolate and… y’know, when I eventually do get to Aus and meet up with the authors there, the party is probably going to go on even longer than this blog party…

Anyway, over to Annie:

Kate, thank you so much for the invitation to join you in celebrating 50 books. 50 books! Just saying it takes my breath away. I’ve known of you through your wonderful, moving stories, and have been thrilled when our paths have crossed in the past, so being invited to share your month in the spotlight is such a treat. Even way over here in Australia I’m basking in your reflected glory.

Pondering how it is that a writer keeps producing fresh, engaging stories up to and beyond 50 books made me think about the importance of writing about a theme that resonates. For me it’s vital to write a book that makes me rub my hands with glee at the idea of tackling a particular theme with a new, individual twist. It’s like that moment as a reader when I pick up a book and read the back cover copy to discover it contains a major hook I love and want to revisit, especially as I know the author will give her own particular slant to even the most tried and tested romance theme.

For instance, I’m hooked on honourable heroes. Yes, I’ve written men behaving badly (very badly sometimes) but at their core there’s a gritty honesty even they can’t avoid, no matter how it makes them squirm. So you can imagine my joy when I found myself writing a book all about the push-pull of romance that was in direct conflict with duty. Not just the sort of duty you give might give lip service too, but duty based on bone-deep loyalty and love.

What could be harder for my loyal, honourable hero and heroine (yes, I like a heroine who has strong values too) than to find themselves dealing with forbidden love? Forbidden because it goes against what’s expected of them but especially because their consciences forbid them.

There’s something deliciously dangerous and appealing about the forbidden. That undercurrent gave an extra piquancy to the passion Soraya and Zahir share in ‘Defying Her Desert Duty’. Zahir is sent to bring her home to marry the man she’d promised to wed years before – the caring, decent man who’s been like a father to Zahir. Soraya, having promised to marry, is honour-bound to follow through. After all, her bridegroom is the man who saved her father’s life.

But travelling overland from Paris to Barakhar takes quite some time. Time enough to fall in love…

I wanted to write this story because I was hooked on the notion of forbidden passion and because I wanted to find out how my hero and heroine would handle it. Yes, I sometimes write to see what happens in the end!

As well as taking inspiration from the old Tristan and Iseult story, I had fun weaving the plot around places I’d visited and loved. Despite the book’s title much of the action takes place in France and I’ve included here a couple of location shots that inspired part of this story.

Have you ever had a forbidden passion, or even a passion that wasn’t forbidden but which you chose to keep secret? I have to say I had a few of those in my school years when I specialised in unrequited love. Do you have forbidden passions now or a secret indulgence? Personally I’m thinking about hand made truffles from a particular Belgian chocolatier…sigh.

Annie will give a copy of her current UK release ‘Defying Her Desert Duty’ to one person, chosen at random from those who leave a comment here.

Annie West is a USA Today Bestselling author of Mills and Boon Modern/Harlequin Presents stories and winner of a 2012 Romantic Times Reviewers’ Choice Award for category romance. She lives in Australia and specialises in daydreaming about compelling heroes and their love lives. You can read more about her world and her books at www.annie-west.com


marybelle said...

In my younger days I did seem to be drawn to the bad boys. Not exactly hidden, but certainly forbidden.

These days I'm happy to indulge in other pleasures: a rogue or two and chocolate fudge.

Michelle Douglas said...

Kate, super-duper congratulations on your 50th book! That's an amazing achievement and I'm applauding you madly!

Oh, Annie, Defying Her Desert Duty sounds like a real winner! I can't wait to read it. I love an honourable hero too...though, I have a soft spot for a bad boy...and for some reason I just adore grumpy heroes as well. :-) Maybe it's all in that word hero.

And you already know my not-so-secret passion. Oh, for a caramel doughnut!

Annie West said...

Marybelle, oh, I so understand the attraction to bad boys. So tempting, so dangerous! Love the sound of a rogue or two and chocolate fudge! That's really hit the spot with me and much less dangerous.

Annie West said...

Hi Michelle, I'm laughing at you adoring grumpy heroes. As soon as I read that I thought of the first book of yours that I read (The Loner's Guarded Heart). He was so grumpy but even more appealing and adorable. So long as he starts out grumpy but gets over it, I'm along for the ride.

Do you know, I don't recall ever having a caramel doughnut? Wow. I'll have to branch out and try one.

Hope you enjoy Defying Her Desert Duty. I'm glad you like the sound of it.

Kandy Shepherd said...

Hi Kate, you're right, the Aussie authors would make you so welcome Down Under you would be partying non-stop!

Annie, you had me at chocolate--though it's not such a hidden passion, particularly visible on my hips!

I've just finished reading DEFYING HER DESERT DUTY. You certainly succeeded in creating two, strong passionate people who are, above all, honourable.

We all know a romance novel has a guaranteed happy-ever-after ending, but in this book you created such barriers to your hero and heroine getting together that you kept me wondering right to the very last pages how they could possibly get there. What a wonderful story!

Annie West said...

Kandy, you're so right. Wouldn't it be lovely it Kate came to an Aussie writers' conference? There should be more o's visitors I feel - any excuse for a party.

How terrific that you've just finished Soraya and Zahir's story and even better that you enjoyed it! Whew - I'm so glad.

Chocolate seems to be a common passion, especially among writers. I'm wondering what secret desires are kept hidden.

Desere said...

Hi Annie,thank you for coming to the party I adore your books !

Forbidden passion for me is indulgeing in facts about the past,I know it is not really a forbidden one but most people do not really understand why I would study book after book to learn more about old churches,art work,dresses from a different time period and people from the past most say to me why would you want to know it was so long ago. But yes to me it teaches me more about things I love and at the same time I get to read which is my ultimate passion!

Thank you for the give away I would adore to win the book!

Annie West said...

Hi Desere and thank you for the lovely warm welcome! I'm so thrilled you enjoy my stories.

I can so understand a passion for the past. I love history and I think being able to learn more about is a real treat, as well as an education. You mention old dresses. One of my fond memories is of visiting a costume museum in Bath that had the most amazing outfits - including a dress worn by a very old Queen Victoria and another by a young, slender Princess Margaret. I could have stayed much longer.

Vanessa Barneveld said...

Hi, Kate! Great to see your blog party is still going strong!

Annie, congratulations on the release of Defying Her Desert Duty. I have my own very special copy, so no need to enter me in the draw. That's a great question, though. For me, writing was a secret passion for many years, one I didn't really tell my family much about until about three years ago!

Gorgeous pics!

PrincessFiona01 said...

Nice to see you Annie. I just got hold of the Savakis Merger so am getting a nice collection of your books.

My secret passion used to be reading romance. Same passion no longer a secret.

Annie West said...

Vanessa, how interesting about writing being your secret passion. What a delicious secret! Having read some of your work I knew it couldn't be a secret for too long. Congratulations on your recent short story publication!

Annie West said...

Hi Fiona. Now that's a terrific passion to have! I love romance novels (funny that!).

I hope you enjoy the Savakis Merger. That was another book that was great fun to write.

Sharon Archer said...

Magical castle pictures, Annie! They look straight out of a fairytale - must have been fun just to visit them and extra special to write them into Zahir and Soraya's story! And I'm very lucky to have this gorgeous book of yours teetering on my TBR pile!

I chuckled at your question about a secret passion... and your comment about unrequited love! Oh the agonies of it! I had an enormous crush on a boy a couple of years older when I was 13 - with the wisdom of age, I can see that admiring from afar was a blessing. I wonder how he matured!

Annie West said...

Hi Sharon,

Oh, 13 is definitely the age for unrequited love. I seemed to spend my teen years either pining over an older boy at school or a hero in a book.

I hope you enjoy Soraya and Zahir's story. I'm smiling about the idea of your tbr pile teetering. Mine too!

As for the pics - this chateau inspired the luxury hotel I created for my characters.

bn100 said...

Nice pictures. No, I don't.

Laney4 said...

Congrats again, Kate! I can understand how you were "totally blown away by [Annie's] Sheikh", as I am too! Yeah, Annie's books are definitely on my autobuy list too!

As for forbidden passions, my dear, I am a happily married woman of 31+ years now. Would *I* have those? I get all the passion I could possibly want from my husband and my thousands of romance books through the years (as I have read 250+ every year since 1973 so far). They say variety is the spice of life, LOL!!!

As for secret indulgences, hmmm.... Anna Campbell got me hooked on Tim Tams a few years back. Then there's my homemade iced brownies (they taste great without the icing too, but the icing is definitely an indulgence for me).

Anna Campbell said...

Waving madly to Annie and Kate. Kate, when are you coming over? I want to be at that party! Congratulations on your 50th book. Wow!

Annie, I adored DEFYING HER DESERT DUTY. I think it's one of your best. The whole Tristan and Isolde vibe works a treat - makes the dilemmas of our hero and heroine absolutely heart-wrenching. More, please!

Annie West said...

Hi BN100. I'm glad you like the photos.

Annie West said...

Hi Laney,

I love the idea that your husband and your love of romances keeps any need for forbidden passion in check!

As for Tim Tams and brownies...yum! Definitely an indulgence.

Annie West said...

Anna, wouldn't it be great if Kate could make it for an Aus party (conference, I mean).

Thanks for the lovely words about Soraya and Zahir's story. As for more - I'm working on it. Am currently trying to get my book finished!

Elissa Graham said...

Forbidden passions.....does Gerard Butler count? You know, given the AVO he's taken out against me - that kind of makes it forbidden doesn't it? Just kidding - I think the whole world knows about my *cough* enitrely professional admiration *cough* for Mr Butler ;)

I can't keep a secret for the life of me so my indulgences are usually very well known.

Annie West said...

Hi Elissa, oh yes, I think Gerard Butler does count! And in a big way. Shame about the AVO. Thanks for sharing your passion.

Caroline said...

Apart from chocolate my forbidden secret is Damien Lewis; but don't tell the DH! ;o) Caroline

Annie West said...

Caroline - you can rely on my to keep your secret! Thanks for sharing.

Kate Hardy said...

First name drawn from the hat for ‘Defying her Desert Duty’ – Caroline. Please contact me kate(dot)hardy(at)btinternet(dot)com with your details, and I'll get everything sorted :o) Thanks for taking part!