Interview with Ann Lethbridge
Susana: What inspired you to start writing?
Ann: The first time I got my fingers on a typewriter keyboard at the age of about eight in a friend’s house, I wanted to write. I was trying to write poetry, because the typewriter allowed you to put the lines on the page in interesting shapes.
I enjoyed writing what we called composition at school but I never actually dreamed of being “a writer.” In all of my 9-5 jobs I was required to write reports, and to brainstorm in meetings. I think the experience gave me a great appreciation and some skill in the presentation of ideas in a logical matter, and using my imagination, although it wasn’t fiction. Or shouldn’t have been, anyway. It wasn’t until much later that I attempted a novel during a period of utter enforced boredom and I won’t bore you with the details.
Having finished the first book, not a book anyone would actually want to read mind you, I was hooked.
Susana: How long have you been writing?
Ann: I began that first novel in the year 2000. Was it something about a new millennium that compelled me to start in a completely different direction? I have often wondered if it was karma or fate, or just plain luck. Needless to say my first baby was a bit of an ugly duckling, but I persevered. Since then I have published fourteen full length novels and fourteen short stories, most of them with Harlequin Historicals. My first book came out in 2006 and all but two of the books I wrote between 2000 and now are in print.
Susana: What advice would you give to writers just starting out?
Ann: My advice would be to finish the first book, write THE END, no matter how many doubts you have. And once finished, and while you are revising and polishing, start the next one and the next.
If you receive feedback from critique partners or contests, take it under advisement, see if it works for you, but never forget that writing is a creative art and that what works for one may not work for another. It is your book. I do not advise that, however, if you land a contract and an editor. Editors are to be listened to.
While you are writing, and submitting finished books to agents and editors, or hiring editors for your story, you should also be attending conferences and writing workshops that work for your particular genre. I would also advise that it is a very bad idea to revise and revise one book over a period of years rather than moving on to something new. That sort of revision will suck the life out of a creative work, though you will need to polish each work more than once before it is ready to be shown to the world.
A writer should continue to attend writing workshops no matter how many books they have published.
For independent publishing you will need to hire a concept editor and a copy editor when your book is finished. You will need to follow their advice with respect the to manuscript, which means you need to select them carefully and trust their judgement.
Above all, persevere, not with the same book, but with the learning and the writing, and more writing.
Susana: What comes first: the plot or the characters? Are you a plotter or a pantser?
Ann: The two questions combine for me. I am a pantser, which is a horrible process because it involves many incorrect pathways and dead ends, but if I try anything else, I become bored. So I don’t.
Plot or characters: I always start with a first scene. It comes to me fully formed and rarely changes. It is almost set in stone.
I just finished a Christmas novella. I lay down on the couch and thought “Christmas…” and a scene played out in my head. It came with characters and a situation. If I try to redirect it, then it turns right back around and starts where it had before. I think this relates back to being a pantser.
Then I learn about the characters. Why they are there? What is wrong? What is right? Who they are and why they are who they are? The scene rolls out like a movie and leaves me wandering along behind trying to pick up the threads. As I said. Horrible. And it is always the same. Yuck.
Susana: Tell us something about your newest release that is NOT in the blurb.
Ann: I found this amazing bit of information—Beau Brummell played cricket for the County of Hampshire against the newly formed England team. A bit like a home team taking on the Olympic team in some sports today.
Now as we all know, The Beau does not get hot and sweaty. E.v.e.r. But he did play cricket in a pretty famous game at Lord’s Cricket Ground and he batted exceedingly well, twenty-three runs before he was caught out. And of all the luck, my heroine is French, so it gave me a bit of a chance to explain the game without it sounding stilted. I could not resist. And nor could she. The hero, of course, managed to catch a wild ball before it hit the spectators. Well he is the hero.
Susana: What are you reading now?
Ann: I read a great deal, inside and outside my genre. I have a thing going for Grace Burrowes, Nalini Singh and Diana Gabaldon at the moment as well as fantasy writer Brandon Sanderson. Why oh why can’t these folks write faster? Honestly I love books and if the writer hooks me, I read everything they have. I love all genres, but always go back to my historical romances for my real fix.
Right now I have just finished a binge with Grace and since I am about to start a new book, likely I will be on hiatus from reading anything until I have the few first chapters down. I do not like to let another writer in my head when I am at the beginning of a book.
Susana: What is your work schedule like when writing?
Ann: I think my schedule is pretty well like most writers. I get up at around 7:30, read email, knowing I shouldn’t be reading email (it’s a procrastination tactic). After coffee and getting dressed I start work. I work on the story until noon if things are going well, naturally interrupting myself with email, to procrastinate. Afternoons are spent on the promoting side of things, errands, housework and procrastinating with email.
Susana: What did you want to be when you grew up?
Ann: A princess.
Susana: What is the funniest thing that ever happened to you as a writer?
Ann: Before I was published and I was working full time, I would write every chance I got, in the car, at a hockey game, in bed with one of those little pen lights. One day when we were driving my daughter back to university, I spent the whole drive in the backseat writing. I know lots of people cannot do this, but reading in a car has never bothered me.
Anyway, it was a three-hour drive and I got heaps done. A whole scene of a book, now published as The Gamekeeper’s Lady. On the way home, I offered to read the scene, a sex scene, to my husband to keep him entertained, the well having dried by that time. It was dark but I had the reading light on.
He cheerfully agreed. So I read about my hero getting it on with his rather evil mistress, before he said goodbye to her. I hope I am not shocking you. After about half an hour, my dearly beloved slowed down and was looking mystified. “What is wrong,” I asked. “I haven’t a clue where we are,” he answered.
So you see it really is true, a guy’s brain moves location when he gets to thinking about you know what. It took us at least half an hour of driving around to get us unlost and back on the right road. Thinking back, I should have claimed this as a tax-deductible expense for research.
About Captive Countess
Never trust a spy!
Nicoletta, the Countess Vilandry, is on a dangerous mission—to lure fellow spy Gabriel D’Arcy into bed and into revealing his true loyalties. With such sensual games at play and such strong sensations awakened, suddenly Nicky’s dangerously close to exposing her real identity.
Gabe knows that the countess has been sent to seduce him. The only question is to what end? He’s never met such a captivating woman—and he’s determined to enjoy every seductive second she spends as his very willing captive!
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About the Author
An army brat born in England, Ann lived all over the UK in her youth. She grew up loving history, but majored in business with history on the side. Now living in Canada, she has a husband and two lovely daughters and a Maltese Terrier called Teaser, who likes to sit on a chair beside the computer while she creates her award winning Regency historical romances.
During her successful career as an administrator, the call of the past and the stories in her imagination brought her to a fork in the road. After her first book was published in 2006, she decided to write full time and hasn’t looked back. She has given talks on the various aspects of publishing as well as workshops on the craft of writing. She blogs regularly about her research on her Regency Ramble Blog.
Over the years several of her books have won awards including an honorable mention by Foreword Magazine. She is particularly proud of her 2009 win of the Daphne DuMaurier Award for Excellence in Mystery/Suspense for The Rake’s Inherited Courtesan. Recently She finaled in the Booksellers Best and the Golden Quill.
She loves the Georgian era, and within that, the period known as the long Regency. She also adores happy endings. You will find her print books in bookstores in the month of issue, as well as on line where you will also find her e-books.