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!
D.B. 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.
D.B. 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!
D.B. 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.
D.B. 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