Welcome Anne Gracie!
I’m happy to welcome Anne Gracie to Book’d Out today. Anne started her first novel while backpacking solo around the world. Originally published by Harlequin Books, she has written more than 15 Regency-era historical romances for Berkley, USA and Penguin Australia, but instead of her new career taking her back to exotic overseas locations, she turned into a cave-bound writer-hermit. Anne’s books are published in sixteen languages, have been shortlisted three times for the prestigious RITA award (USA), have twice won the Romantic Book of the Year (Australia) and the National Reader’s Choice Award (USA), and have been listed in Library Journal (USA) best books of the year. Anne is a former president of Romance Writers of Australia and though she lives in Melbourne in a small and very elderly wooden house, she’s too busy writing to renovate.
The Autumn Bride is her latest novel, (published by Penguin in Australia and Berkley in the US) and I had the opportunity to ask Anne Gracie a few questions. Read on to learn more about The Autumn Bride and check out MY REVIEW of this charming novel.
Q & A with Anne Gracie
Q. Please tell us about The Autumn Bride
Anne: This is the first book in a series about four young women, all orphans, who come together and form a kind of family. When their situation goes from bad to worse, Abby, my heroine, climbs through the window of a nearby mansion hoping to find something to steal. Instead she finds a bedridden aristocratic old lady at the mercy of her neglectful, rapacious servants. The four girls move in with Lady Beatrice, pretending to be her nieces and sacking the servants. All goes well until Lady Beatrice’s nephew Max returns after nine years in the Far East. He’s not impressed to find his aunt under the sway of these impostors.
It’s a rags-to-riches, feel-good, fun story with a dark undertow. But mostly it’s about the joy of friendship, second chances, sisterhood — and love.
Anne: The Regency period is the real definer — 1811 to 1820, when King George III was “mad” and his son, the Prince Regent ruled in his stead. It’s a subgenre that in fiction was shaped by writers like Jane Austen and Georgette Heyer. Austen, of course was writing contemporaries, whereas Heyer was writing in the 1940′s and 50′s, but they each brought their versions of that era alive to new generations of readers. And hundreds of writers since have followed them there. . .
It’s a vibrant, varied and exciting period for writers — this is the age of Napoleon, the industrial revolution, the growth of the British Empire, and so much more. There is the glamour of balls and fabulous fashions, and incredible wealth side by side with desperate poverty. It gives me, as a writer, plenty of plot choices.
Q. What, if any, research did you do specifically for The Autumn Bride?
Anne: Having set sixteen books in the Regency period, I’m pretty well primed in the historical background, and this story is more about characters than particular historical events so I didn’t need a lot of specific research. Mostly I investigated the district Lady Beatrice and the girls lived in, which centuries before had been a rich area filled with mansions, but in the Regency era was in decline, and starting to be redeveloped.
Q. I’m intrigued by author’s picture boards . Can you share what types of things you add to yours?
Anne: I make a collage for each of my books, using all kinds of pictures — contemporary paintings, photos of people, settings. I do it in the early writing stages, before the book has formed fully in my head. Partly it’s a form of inspiration, and when it’s finished it helps plunge me into the world of the book. The process is largely instinctual; I select some images without quite knowing why, and eventually my subconscious throws up a reason, often when I’m well into the book. Writing is sometimes like archaeology, a process of uncovering what’s already there, buried deep.
Q. The Australian cover (Penguin) differs from the US cover (Berkley) – do you prefer one over the other?
Anne: I don’t. I love each of them for different reasons.
Q. The Autumn Bride is to be the first in a series featuring the Chance sisters, whose story can we expect next?
Anne: Damaris’s. She’s the most contained of the sisters, and lived most of her life abroad living in difficult and unusual circumstances. She’s an interesting character, I think.
Q. Name three of your favourite novels by Australian women writers
Daughter of the Forest by Juliet Marillier
Untameable Rogue by Kelly Hunter
Rhiannon’s Ride (series) by Kate Forsyth
Q. What is your preference?
- Coffee/Tea or other? — Coffee
- Beach/Pool or River? — Beach
- Slacks/Jeans or Leggings? — Jeans
- Butterfly/Tiger or Giraffe? — Tiger
- Swing/Slide or Roundabout? — Swing