Monday, April 23, 2007

Sunday Spotlight on Annie West

This week we shine the spotlight on a favourite of The Pink Heart Society, Harlequin Presents author Annie West.

About Annie:

Annie lives on Australia’s east coast. Her first book for Harlequin (Modern/Presents/Sexy) was accepted in December 2005 so she considers herself a novice at writing for publication. She currently juggles her writing, a part time day job and her family, (not literally of course – her children are now taller than she is). She loves using places she’s visited as inspiration for her stories. That is a great excuse for her to spend time thinking about more travel, as well as about wonderful men and their love lives.


Where do you get the inspiration for your books from?

Now if I knew that I might be a bit more organised! Who can say? Snippets of ideas come from goodness knows where. I suppose there’s a deep well of inspiration that’s the product of years and years of reading, and reading romance in particular. A few of my books have been inspired by a title or a single scene that popped into my head. For months I knew I wanted to write ‘The Unwanted Wife’ but didn’t have a clue why the heroine was unwanted. I just sensed it was a story I wanted to write. I even asked friends why she was unwanted, and got some fascinating ideas, but none of them were right. Eventually the idea came to match the title and I wrote the book, (which will be published under a different title). I think like all writers, my ‘inspiration’ is a mxture of imagination, experience and hard work.

What makes you mad?

Cruelty to people or animals. Well actually, lots of other things too, but that’s the main thing and it seems to cover quite a lot!

What’s the most romantic thing that has ever happened to you?

My husband booking a surprise holiday to Auckland for just the two of us, to celebrate a significant wedding anniversary. What a guy! He’d been there and I hadn’t and he knew I’d love it. That was our first holiday alone since our teenage children were born (not counting a few overnight trips) and it was FANTASTIC.

What in a hero makes you drool?

Drool, eh? Well, broad shoulders and a good looking body appeal. Nice eyes and a great smile. A sense of humour. But to drool – I think a hero who is completely absorbed in the heroine. I love to see a man with a strong sense of honour too, especially when that leads him into direct conflict with the heroine.

If you weren’t a writer what would you be?

Dissatisfied. Writing is such an enormous part of my life. I thought of giving up a few years ago before ‘A Mistress for the Taking’ was published and the prospect was horrifying. But, if the day came when I could no longer write, then I’d have to settle down in a job where I got paid to read lots of books, talk to fascinating people, travel and enjoy good food. If anyone can tell me where I’d find that position, please email me (just in case).

What do you do to relax and wind down?

Read, watch a film, share a lovely meal and a long natter with family or friends, get outside into the open air (garden, bush, or somewhere else), have a long soak in the bath. A few years ago I would have included things like cross stitching, sewing tapestries and cooking (not day to day meals but something special). Now I never seem to have the time.

How do you get out of a writing rut?

Talk to my writer friends, do something completely different with my family, or get outdoors for a walk or a long drive or a serious stint of gardening. Allow myself to daydream about something completely different for a while. Anything to give me a fresh perspective and recharge the batteries. Visiting new places is wonderful for this too – there should be more of it!

If you could live anywhere in the world where would it be?

By the water. We’re just a few kilometers away from the lake but we don’t have a view of it. There’s something about a water view, either lake or sea, that is wonderfully relaxing. And invigorating too. Not to mention inspiring. I love long early morning walks on the beach but only rarely get to do that.

Who would you most like to give a hug to for a fabulous book you’ve read?

My life is littered with books that I’ve loved. I couldn’t possibly choose just one. Loretta Chase for ‘Mr Impossible’ - Rupert Carsington is such a joy. More recently Abby Green for ‘The Brazilian’s Blackmail Bargain’ and Yvonne Lindsay for ‘The Boss’s Christmas Seduction’. I read them one after another and had such a marvellous time.

What music do you listen to when writing?

Unfortunately I don’t. I find it far too distracting as it interferes with the conversations going on in my head. Hm, I’m, not sure that sounds too good! When I’m reading proofs I love to play music – it’s such a treat. I’ve also been discovering the joys of music to inspire me when I’m planning stories, but there are no set favourites, my tastes are very broad, and getting broader as my teenagers share their favourites with me (G).

Tell us a secret nobody knows about you

Sorry – I can’t think of any worth telling, that you’d really want to know.

What was your most embarrassing moment?

Years ago we were at a guest house, sharing a dining table with a family we’d just met. We were talking about the cost of fresh produce and chokos were mentioned. For the lucky people who haven’t come across these, they are a pale green vine fruit about the size of an avocado pear. When I was a child they grew rampant in back gardens and neighbours were always trying to give away buckets of them. They taste of nothing much, or maybe of green water, and every child I knew hated them. Remembering the dread with which I’d see them appearing on my plate as a child, my comment was something like ‘imagine charging good money for a choko. They should pay us to eat them.’ It transpired that the lovely man across the table from me was Australia’s largest commercial producer of chokos! Fortunately he had a sense of humour. And his wife backed me up – she can’t even be in the kitchen when they’re cooking. Now I’m careful, I don’t bad mouth any food until I know I’m not sitting with its grower!

What have you had to celebrate in the last year?

Another happy year with my family and good friends, all in pretty good health. Isn’t it wonderful when you can say that? On the writing front: the appearance of my 1st book for Harlequin Mills and Boon, fan mail (yay!), the acceptance of my 2nd book for HMB (whew!) as well as my 3rd and 4th (whew all over again) and the news that my best friend had her first book accepted. A great year for celebration here – and we did!

What’s beside your computer when you’re writing?

My dog, Daisy. She’s getting old now and likes to curl up in front of the full length window next to me and snooze most of the day away. She loves company, but it also means I’m handy to open the door for her when she thinks something interesting is happening outside. On the desk, apart from a muddle of notes, I have photos of friends, a thesaurus and diary, a small flower power llama that my son made me at school and a lovely river pebble with the word ‘Believe’ engraved on it. The pebble is just the right size for holding in your hand. It was given to me by a friend in my writers’ group when I was knocking my head against that invisible door to publication. It really helped to see it there and know others believed in my writing even when I was tempted to give up hope.

If you could kiss anyone in the world who would it be?

My husband. He’s still my hero. Or my teenagers – they rarely stand still long enough for me to give them a hug.

What are you working on now?

I’m writing my sixth book for Harlequin Mills and Boon (Modern/Presents/Sexy). I’m thrilled about this project as it will be part of an anthology released in 2008 to celebrate the centenary of Mills and Boon. Imagine that – 100 years! I’m a new author with the company and I’m still amazed to see my books being published, let alone be part of the centenary celebrations. I’m just hoping I can deliver a great story. It is in my head…all I have to do now is get that down on paper. Easy! (G)

Annie shouldn’t be writing this blog. She should be focusing on her deadline. Her current release, ‘The Sheikh’s Ransomed Bride’ is on sale in the UK (Modern) in April, Australia (Sexy) in May, and the US (Presents) in July.

You can read an excerpt on her website or buy it at


  1. Annie, fantastic interview. I love to hear about where writers I know strike their inspiration. Congratulations on all your success. Writing your sixth book? Wow, that's amazing! By the way, I loved that you chose Mr. Impossible by Loretta Chase as your fabulous read. It really is a book in a million, isn't it? Rupert was a classic hero and there was this wonderful sly humor that ran through it so I just had a smile on my face the whole time I was reading it. Did you know LC has a new book out next month? Can't wait. Just as I can't wait for your next release!

  2. Hi Annie,

    Great interview. What a successful year it's been for you. May there be many more.


  3. Anna, thanks very much for the congratulations, and for being so eager about my next story. It's been a big year for you too with your debut book just released - congratulations to you too!

    As for 'Mr Impossible', it has to be one of my favourites, which is saying something as I have such a tough time choosing 'favourites'. There are just so many books I've enjoyed. I'm waiting the next book by Loretta Chase with lots of anticipation.

    Claire, thanks for the good wishes. Yes, fingers crossed for more good years to come. By the way, I have your 'Falling for the Frenchman' in the stack by my bed - so much reading to catch up on! I can't wait to dive into that pile of stories.


  4. 'Falling for the Frenchman' is on my nightstand too. It's my reward for finishing the draft of this book!

  5. Jenna, snap! I think we're both in for a treat with Claire's book. Hope your draft goes smoothly.


  6. Hi Annie! I read your excerpt a bit ago and I can't wait for it get on the shelves! Thanks for a great post!


  7. Cole, how terrific to hear you liked my excerpt. I hope you enjoy the actual book when you get your hands on it.