February 11, 2009 / 11:15 AM / 10 years ago

Book Talk: Romance writer Anna Campbell loves the happy endings

CANBERRA (Reuters Life!) - Romance writer Anna Campbell spent 27 years defending her passion for writing steamy love stories and now she has the last laugh, with a string of awards and best-selling novels to her name.

Campbell, who grew up on an avocado farm in the Australian state of Queensland, has just released her third Regency romance called “Tempt the Devil” which follows on from “Claiming the Courtesan” and “Untouched.”

She spoke to Reuters about writing, romance and sex:

Q: This is your third book in two years. That’s quite a pace.

A: “Actually in the romance world that is as slow as a glacier. Mills and Boon have people who can do 10 books a year which is scary when you do only one a year.”

Q: What started you writing?

A: “I had always wanted to be a writer. My mother kept an essay from Grade 2 when I said I was going to be the next Enid Blyton. I finished my first full length book in the gap between high school and university but it was 27 years before I sold.”

Q: When did you first get interested in romance novels?

A: “My mother gave me a Mills and Boon to read when I was 8 to stop me talking and romance had been shutting me up ever since. I love the happy ending. People make fun of the happy ending but in a murder you find out who the murderer is and in a thriller you get saved in the end. I like that people go through all that pain but earn a loving, committed relationship at the end and obviously so do lots of other people.”

Q: It took 27 years get published?

A: “Yes. It is amazing the number of people who say to me that they have a free weekend and will knock off a Mills and Boon. But Mills and Boon take something like 2 percent of the books submitted to them. It is a very hard genre to break into and it is much harder than people outside the genre realize.”

Q: Were you teased a lot over the years?

A: “Since it has become my source of income and I live on it, it has brought respect. When I was unpublished I was always having to defend it. It is strange how the people with the most definite ideas on romance are the people who have not read one.”

Q: Have romance novels changed over the years?

A: “Absolutely. Any commercial fiction tends to reflect the society it is in. For romance now, there is a huge range you can buy, from Christian romances to hotter-than-hot. There has been a huge surge of paranormal romances with vampires, shape shifters, demons. That whole genre in romance is going mad and it has been for about 10 years now.”

Q: Where did the vampire theme come from?

A: “It came from nowhere and took the romance world by storm and now seems to be taking the whole entertainment world by storm as well. I sometimes think romance is ahead of itself. There were Knights Templar romances before “The Da Vinci Code.” I think we are so in touch with readers we can be ahead of the game.”

Q: Is sex a large part of romances?

A: “Well, in historicals the hotter the better, the sexier the better. It would be boring without it and it does move the plot on. Mine are all quite sexy. My parents paid for all that education and I grew up to write dirty books! But the terrible thing about a sex scene is that is so easy to get it wrong. When I am writing them I know the characters well enough that it is a natural development of the story. I think the thing about my sex scenes is that they are emotional and sensual rather than graphic. As long as you have the deep emotion, readers will get it.”

Q: Do you have any advice for aspiring writers?

A: “Don’t take 27 years! The best advice I can give someone is to sit down and write a whole book. Finishing a manuscript teaches you so many things about writing a book. It teaches you that this is not a breeze.”

Editing by Miral Fahmy

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