Wednesday, July 2, 2008

An English Author Breaks into the American Market

In a crisis moment of her life, Jenny Waring did something exceptional. ... She killed three armed men.

INTERVIEWER'S NOTE: A few months ago, I read the above log line. I found it so compelling that I couldn't wait for Run Among Thorns to come out so I could read the story behind it. Recently, I had the opportunity. I won't give the story away; what fun would that be? What I will tell you is that Run Among Thorns, by Anna Louise Lucia, earned 4-1/2 stars from Romantic Times, and that this rising star has a breathtakingly, beautiful voice. I hope you'll join me in welcoming Anna for this two-part series to Five Scribes.

D.B. Anna, I am so pleased you could join us today. The one complaint I have is that your publisher kept me waiting!

A.L.L. Thank you so much, Donnell! I'm blushing here. Yes, Medallion Press has a full schedule, and it's been a long time coming, but for me it was certainly worth the wait!

Well, "I" almost didn't survive it, and I've contacted my attorney as a result. How many months would you say transpired between the time Medallion accepted and the book went into print?

A.L.L. Oh, blimey, I accepted an offer in Sept. 06, so that makes it ... *counts on fingers* ... 21 months, all told! But the time went very quickly.

All right. On your reassurance, I will cancel pending litigation, because I happen to agree the wait was worth it. As I read the pages, Anna, the first thing that struck me, in addition to the fantastic suspense, was the setting. It seemed as much a part of the character as your protagonists. Then I read of your background and understood why. Will you tell us about that?

A.L.L. I'm so glad you found it that way! That's a job well done, to me. I'm always trying to create settings that are more than just places where the story happens. You see, landscape fascinates me, particularly the historical and cultural aspects of it. Where we are, and how connected we are to that place has a huge effect on how we feel as people. Setting is more than just place; it can be a tool, a weapon, enemy, friend, shelter or prison.

I live in England, on the edge of the Lake District, and I've always been fascinated by the country around me. That's why, even though I was writing for the U.S. market, I had to bring the story home to my own ground -- and share that fascination with other people.

There are places in Run Among Thorns where both Jenny and Kier use the landscape (even the cityscape!) they know as a tool, places where they have to battle it, places where it's their ally. And the best bits, for their love story, are where they use it together.

I've worked in wildlife and landscape conservation, and in protected landscapes and I live within easy reach of National Parks, Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty and World Heritage Sites, so it's natural I'd give my characters a place to work in that matters.

I'm doing a workshop about using settings at the UK Romantic Novelists' Association annual Conference in Chichester, England in July!

Lucky attendees! They are in for a learning experience. I did notice your use of the landscape as a tool for this book. Watch for a lot of authors to emulate this practice. Another thing that impressed me was your knowledge of the US and its bureaucratic workings. Have you been to the States before? Was this hands-on research, or how did you as a UK resident accomplish such amazing transcontinental world-building?

A.L.L. I feel like such a fraud! When I first wrote the book that would become Run Among Thorns, I hadn't been to the States at all (although I did for the first time in 2003, before I rewrote the book). I didn't do a lot of research on that part because I didn't want to get bogged down in the procedural stuff, which doesn't appeal to me as a reader. If you notice the points of view I use, I had one character drugged, and in shock, one character wholly focused on getting out of there and on with the job, and one character at the start of a crisis of conscience. Where they are, what's happening, is real to them only in terms of what they're experiencing. The reader is taken along for that ride.

As a writer, I wanted to get Jenny and Kier out of there, and across the Atlantic as soon as possible, so I could stretch my legs on my own ground.

Anna, if researching a place in person is a requirement of writing a stellar book then I suspect many, many authors out there are frauds. In Run Among Thorns your application worked very well. I found it seamless.

Onto your protagonists. Kier McAllister and Jenny Waring, in this reader's opinion, the term three-dimensional doesn't do them justice. Tell us how they came to be and what inspired them.

A.L.L. Ah. Now that's an interesting thing. You see, as a writer, I often find that aspects of characters are drawn from myself. We know that happens, right? It's not that we're writing something autobiographical, it's just that we draw from what we know. So I knew, writing Jenny, that her anxiety about heart versus brain came from me. What came as a surprise, though, and not a very comfortable one, was the realization that Kier's belief -- that to be less than the best was to be nothing -- also came from me. Oh, dear!

I think all writers try and write about people, not puppets. But, as a very wise romance writer called Kate Walker always says, you've got to know WHY your character behaves a certain way. Digging to get at that "why" is what gives them their depth.

D.B. And digging is something Anna Louise Lucia does best. On this note, we must leave you. But join us tomorrow, because I'm going to introduce you more in depth to Run Among Thorns' fantastic characters. Plus, Anna has a special treat. Today and tomorrow, she'll be conducting a drawing in which one lucky commenter each day will receive Run Among Thorns. I'll wager the author might even sign it for you. See you tomorrow! ~ Donnell


Edie said...

Terrific interview! Great questions, Donnell, and great answers, Anna. Run Among Thorns is on my To-Buy list. I don't get to bookstores often and I'll probably end up buying through Amazon.

magolla said...

SIGH! After wrestling with Google and finally resetting my password AGAIN, I hope I can finally comment. . .
Wonderful interview, Anna and Donnell! I hope I win the book, but since I never win I'll have to go to the local B&N to look for it!
Good Luck on the next novel!

Liz L. said...

Great interview, Donnell. I can't wait to get my hands on this book, Anna. I remember when you first showed us the cover art. I knew it would be a good one. Shame on Medallion for waiting so long, but kudos to them for recognizing your talent.

Keira said...

Great interview! I don't get to the bookstore often either. I have to resort to ordering. Can't wait to get my hands on the book too. I never win anything either, Margaret.

Had to resort to using the pen name I set up because you can't comment here without a Google/Blogger or OpenID.


Anna Lucia said...

Thank you Edie! I don't mind where you get it. .. as long as you get it! ;-) Truly, though, I'm touched. It's all very exciting!

Thank you Magolla - and come back tomorrow to find out a bit more about that next novel... :-D

I'll be eternally grateful to Medallion, Liz, for being willing to stick their neck out for me. And isn't the cover great? They've done a doozy for the next one, too. I'm very lucky! Thank you. :-)

Thank you Cindy! Sorry you had trouble getting in, but I'm glad you made it. :-)

See you later!

Mary Marvella said...

Excellent job, Donnell and Anna. If the book is as good as the interview, I gotta have it!

Donnell said...

Good morning, all, isn't it great that Anna could join us? Isn't her background spectacular? When you read the book I encourage you to pay special attention to her setting. I would love to know if you agree. Thanks so much for stopping in! Oh, and I hereby disqualify myself from winning, Anna, I own Run Among Thorns, and someday you must autograph it for me. I wish Sept. 2009 in C.S. hint hint :)

Misty Evans said...

Setting is one of my all time favorite *characters* in the books on my shelves. Can't wait to read your story, Anne!

Sylvia said...

I also disqualify myself from this contest. I won a copy on an earlier blog. Yea for me! And I'm am thoroughly enjoying the book. Anna, you do a superb job of showing the multi-dimensional aspects of the characters. The tension between the H&H is at times nail biting. Love your voice and your depiction of the settings--alive and vivid. Can't wait to see what happens next.

Arkansas Cyndi said...

I absolutely LOVE the tag line.

From what Amy has posted and after this interview, I cannot wait to read this book.

Good luck!

Anna Lucia said...

Thank you, Mary! I really enjoyed Donnell's questions.

LOL, Donnell! Okay, I won't include you in the drawing, and when I get some book plates sorted out, I'll mail you one! Thank you. :-)

Oh, I'm glad you feel that way, Misty! The place we're in has such a profound effect on how we feel, and how we relate to other people, how can we ignore it in a book?

Sylvia, thank you! I was so glad you won that time. :-D Thank you for the compliments, but, oh, Jenny and Kier were so easy to write. I wonder if that's a first book thing, or just I struck lucky with those characters?

Thank you, Cyndi, I'm glad it works for you! :-D

Tiffany James said...

Loved this interview, ladies! And I want this book so put me into the contest! The tagline is wonderful - leaves me wanting more.


cherylnorman said...

I hadn't gotten around to reading this one, although I try to read a lot of the Medallion Press books, but this interview makes me want to. Now! *LOL*

Mega congratulations on the 4½ Stars from RT.

Your humble Medallion colleague,

cherylnorman said...

PS I forgot to ask, may I be entered in the drawing, too?


Renee Ryan said...

Wow, what a great interview and an intriguing book. I love the idea of using your setting as a character. Talk about immersing your reader into your story world. I can't wait to read this book and see how you did it.

~Renee~waving at Cheryl!

Leslie Ann said...

Donnell and Anna,
Great interview, can't wait for more.

Setting is vitally important in a screenplay. But they can be somewhat interchangeable. For instance the book I AM LEGEND, was written for LA, and most of the adaptations have been shot in LA, but the screenwriter for the Will Smith movie, Akiva Goldsman, thought NYC would make for a better background for the desolation, etc. Will would face.

Film is movement, sound and sight. As I read a book, I allow the words you've created to play that movie in my head and when a master as you makes setting work as a character, I'm treated with even more images.


Donnell said...

Leslie Ann (LA), I love it when you compare our works with screenplays because I have no idea and you give me the big picture. I'm thinking of some of the films that incorporate setting and landscape, and they *are* the story. Just as in Anna's book, she could have just had these two characters with a hero and a heroine . Without the setting, Run Among Thorns doesn't exist. As always, thanks LA. I love talking writing, can you tell ;) Ah, and gee, now I'm getting excited because one of you is going to win Anna's book! Yeahhh :)

Nancy said...

Donnell and Anna, fantastic interview!

Congratulations on the publication of RUN AMONG THORNS, Anna! Your book is a must-have for all who enjoy setting as a character. I can hardly wait!

(And, yep, I want to be in the drawing!)

Nancy Haddock
La Vida Vampire

Anna Lucia said...

Thank you Tiffany! I have to say, although Medallion polished it, the tagline is my own, and has been with the book from its first draft! :-D

Hey, not so much of the humble, fellow Medallionite Cheryl!! :-D BTW, I love the blurb for September's Running Scared! (Of course you can!)

Thank you Renee! I see so much character in the landscape around me, it's hard not to make it *a* character!

Wow, good points, Leslie Ann, and thank you! Most of my books I 'see' as a type of in-my-head movie, so I hope I manage that richness of image for the reader!

One example in the ways settings can be used to characterise is in the opening scenes of Gladiator. You've got this desolate, brutal war-scarred landscape which the hero effortlessly uses and masters... but when he closes his eyes to dream of home, he imagines golden, fertile fields and warm sunny days, family and fruitfulness. Two contrasting landscapes and the character's reaction to them instantly give the hero depth...

Thank you, Nancy, and you're in the drawing! :-)

Now, folks, I'm going to be on the road for a good part of tomorrow, but I will be in towards my afternoon to catch up then. :-) See you soon!

robynl said...

Great interview, Donnell. I can't wait to get my hands on this book, Anna. I want to learn about the characters and become friends with them. Enter me please.

Donnell said...

Anna made a random selection for Wednesday and the winner was Misty Evans! Congratulations, Misty :)