AUTHOR SPOTLIGHT: ANNA JAMES
Spending a few minutes with Anna James has revealed two new books for us to ask about…
A Picture Perfect Christmas is my most recent work. It was just released a few days ago and is part of a Christmas Collectibles anthology available from Midnight Showcase Fiction.
Tell us a little about your recent works:
A Picture Perfect Christmas: When I initially started what is now entitled A Picture Perfect Christmas last winter I hadn’t intended to focus the story around the Christmas holiday nor did I envision it would be part of a Christmas anthology. It was originally supposed to be a stand-alone book and Christmas wasn’t even going to be a factor in the story at all.
I decided to change that after I noticed a call for submissions from Midnight Showcase Fiction this past fall. They were looking for submissions for their Christmas Collectibles anthology and I realized I had the beginnings of a story that would work with some additional writing and more focus around Christmas. So, I wrote like crazy (because I saw the call for submissions about 3 weeks after MSF had originally posted it) and submitted it. I was so excited when they told me that it would be included in their Christmas Collectibles anthology!
Isabella’s Dilemma:There wasn’t anything specific that inspired me to write Isabella’s Dilemma. As with most of my stories it started with an idea. In this case the idea was a hero and heroine that are forced to work together due to extenuating circumstances. They don’t initially like each other based on several misconceptions. I knew that I wanted the characters to be together in the end. It developed into the current story now available from Sugar and Spice Press over several years of working on it.
When you start writing, do you already have the story plotted out or do you let the characters dictate what will happen?
I usually have an initial idea for a story and then an idea of how I want it to end but what happens in between really depends on how the characters develop along the way. I know many writers use an outline so they have their story all plotted out but I find it more fun to see how things will go based on how the characters develop.
I decided to try my hand at writing romance novels after years of reading them. I became hooked on the genre when I was pregnant with my daughter and I so sick that all I could do was lie on the couch and read.
Do you have a favorite character you have written?
I don’t really have a favorite character. I like all of them.
Do you have a character that you look back on now and don’t like?
No, but I can say that there have been some characters that have had complete personality changes during the course of a story. I want my characters to be passionate and real enough to linger long after a reader has finished a story so if I don’t like the way they are developing I change them along them way.
Do you draw inspiration for your characters from real life? Any fun stories you could share?
I think there are references in most of my stories from my life. For example in Isabella’s Dilemma the hero is one of four children and has three older sisters. My brother is the youngest of four children and I am one of his three older sisters. There are several references in To Love and Trust Again, available in January 2012. The story takes place in Buffalo, NY and Boston, MA. I have lives in both places. The heroine is a mechanical engineer and so am I.
What do you find the hardest part of writing?
The time it takes to create a story that I am happy with. Most of the time I will start a story then leave it, possibly for several months, before I go back and continue to work on it. For me it’s very much an iterative process.
Name one thing that your readers would be surprised to know about you.
That I have a degree in Mechanical Engineering and that I worked as an engineer for years before I moved into Marketing, which I am now doing.
Do you have a guilty pleasure?
I LOVE chocolate! I eat it as often as I can.
What do you need before you start writing? Anything that is just a must have or the creative juice don’t flow?
I don’t need anything specific other than to be in the mood to write. I will take long breaks from writing especially if I am busy with other things.
Does music influence your writing? If so, do any of your stories have a theme song?
The song “Crazy for You”, by Madonna, influenced a scene in one of my upcoming books, To Love and Trust Again.
If your story was optioned for a movie, who would play your characters?
That’s such a hard question to answer. I don’t really have a specific actor / actress in mind for any of my characters.
Where were you when you got your first contract? Who did you tell first?
It was about seven pm on Friday night in early December and my husband and I had just got back from dinner. I was sitting on the couch in our family room checking my e-mail. I got really nervous when I saw a message from the publisher and it referenced my submission. I held my breath and opened the message. Needless to say I was ecstatic when I realized I was being offered a contract. I ran down stairs because my husband was in the basement and told him then I called my parents and siblings and pretty much everyone I knew. I think I was on the phone for the rest of that night!
How old were you when you read your first romance book?
I was 27 years old.
If you still have one of those pesky day jobs what is it?
I am involved with product marketing.
What are you currently working on, and what else is in the wings?
I am currently working on the concept of a new story and toying with an idea about a hero and heroine who first met each other in college.
As for what’s in the wings, Coming Home will be available in May 2011 and To Love and Trust Again will be available in January 2012. I will continue to write whenever I can and hopefully will have more stories that will be available.
What is your reaction to people who say one of the following… “Oh you write romance, I thought you were a real writer”, “Romance isn’t a real writing career” or the ever popular “Oh, one of those books”.
I am happy to say that I have never experienced any of those statements when I tell people about my writing. I am very lucky. I will also say that I learned a long time ago not to let others with negative opinions influence me. In other words, believe in yourself and ignore the “naysayers”.
Where can readers find you?
And for the silly side – What is your favorite type of chocolate?
My favorite type of chocolate is actually milk chocolate but I tend to eat more dark chocolate (Ghirardelli’s is one of my favorite!) because it’s better for you.