Friday, January 21, 2011

Dishing it up with Annette Blair

Hi Folks, today I have romance novelist Annette Blair in the hot seat. As an award-winning Author, Annette Blair owes her contemporary roots to Salem, Massachusetts. There she stumbled into the role of Accidental Witch Writer. Magic or destiny, her bewitching romances became her first national bestsellers. With thirty books and counting, Annette writes Paranormal Romantic Comedies for Berkley Sensation and Vintage Magic Mysteries for Berkley Prime Crime.

JET: I had the pleasure of reading Naked Dragon last fall and asked Annette if I could interview her here on my blog. After a hectic fall and the holiday season, Annette was kind enough to fit me into her busy schedule. Annette, can you tell us about the anthologies coming out this month?

Annette: The January anthology is THE MAMMOTH BOOK OF SCOTTISH ROMANCE and I was invited to take part. I believe there are more than 15 stories from some of your favorite writers. Mine is called KISSINGATE MAGIC and it’s a Victorian historical in which a fairy matches a couple for whom love seems impossible. I loved taking a trip to the past and I absolutely fell for the characters in this story.

The February book, it turns out, is on sale now, so it was a January book after all. FALL IN LOVE LIKE A ROMANCE WRITER is by some of your favorite authors, about our own love stories. I can’t wait to get my hands on it.

JET: What made you choose Romance as a genre?

Annette: When my children were small my sister gave me a book, THE FLAME AND THE FLOWER. I left it on a shelf for a year, but then I started reading it, and I wanted more . . . and more . . . and more. I have to say that I had always wanted a romance in every movie or TV show that I watched, since I was a kid, and when there was none, I felt gypped. After years of reading romance, I started writing plot ideas down on envelope corners, napkins, index cards, and throwing them in my nightstand.

JET: What’s been your most challenging hurdle on the road to publication?

Annette: Making that first sale was a hurdle for me. I discovered after finishing two books that I didn’t know what I was doing. I had a lot to learn and I joined Romance Writers of America and took many workshops. Ultimately it took me 10 years and numerous re-writes to make that first sale. But learning by doing is a great teacher.

JET: What was your favorite moment in the journey?

Annette: Big surprise: THE CALL was my first favorite. The late great Kate Duffy called to buy the three books for my first sale. Telling my family and friends came next as favorite. Getting my first book in the mail and holding it in my hands ranks right up there, because I cried like a baby.

JET: Which authors had the most influence over you growing up?

Annette: Carolyn Keene, L Frank Baum, Lewis Carroll, Charlotte, Emily & Anne Bronte, Jane Austen, Victoria Holt.

JET: When did you know you wanted to take the plunge into the writing world?

Annette: One day my daughter challenged me to write a romance of my own, and I sat down with my nightstand stash of plot ideas. The book I started that day, Lady Faith, was part of my first sale. I wanted my stories to take my readers away from the grind of daily life and to give them as much joy and hope as my favorite authors gave me.

JET: What’s the craziest thing you’ve done in the name of book research? Most interesting fact you uncovered?

Annette: Craziest thing: Before I wrote Thee, I Love and The Butterfly Garden, my Amish Romances, I drove an Amish buggy in Winesburg, Ohio. I was asking educated questions of the ‘tour’ driver and he knew I’d done my homework. So he said, “You know so much, you take the reins.” I drove that buggy—with my husband in the backseat, brave man—all over the yard. We had taken an Amish farm tour on a weekday morning, so there was no one else in line.

Most Interesting fact: The Moon Trees. Did you know there are trees in this country whose seeds were taken into orbit on Apollo 14 in 1971, then the seeds were planted all over the country and they’re marked “Moon Trees.” I find that fact fascinating.

JET: Any advice for the novices out there?

Annette: One thing I learned is that there’s only one guarantee in writing. If you don’t write and don’t submit, you will never publish. Don’t give up. Tenacity is the secret and never stop learning. If you think you’re too old to start writing and you won’t publish until you’re 40, 50, whatever, the fact is you’re going to be 40 or 50 anyway, so you might as well have a published book or three to show for your time.

JET: All right - now that I’ve hammered you with the big questions, let’s tackle my favorite (and geeky) quick ten. . . starting with Steak or Tofu?

Annette: Steak

JET: Beach or Mountains?

Annette: Beach

JET: Country or Rock-n-Roll?

Annette: Rock-n-Roll

JET: Classics or Modern?

Annette: Classics

JET: Silent Film Classics or Cheesy B Rated Horror?

Annette: Neither -- Romantic Classics : The Philadelphia Story. Ahhhh.

JET: Zombies or Demons?

Annette: Neither -- Witches

JET: Paper or Digital?

Annette: Oh, hard one. Paper. Maybe.

JET: Salty or Sweet?

Annette: Sweet

JET: Coffee or Tea?

Annette: Tea

JET: Thank you for indulging me. Before we wrap this up, can you tell us what you're working on now? What's next?

Annette: I’m working on SKITING THE GRAVE, Vintage Magic Mystery 4, about a set of twins and their first cousin, who look like identical triplets . . . to the untrained eye. One is dead, one is missing, and one is my sleuth’s fashion intern. BTW, their mothers were twins who married brothers. (As an aside, I wrote triplet witches inspired by my neighbors. So one day outside, I started a conversation with one. She straightened and said, “You think I’m one of the triplets, don’t you?” Which, of course, I did. She said, “They’re my first cousins.” So that was my inspiration.”)

JET:Thank you so much for taking the time to chat on my blog. Folks, you can find out more about Annette Blair and her work on her Website as well as on on MySpace and Facebook.

Join me next week when newcomer Allison Pang dishes about her debut A Brush of Darkness.

Until then,




Annette Blair said...

I'm working on revisions due Monday. Due to my running late, I only have 4 days in which to do them, so I didn't see your reminder. I don't often check the email where you sent it. So sorry for not popping in until now.

JETaylor said...

No worries Annette. Good luck on the revisions and thanks for taking the time out of your busy schedule to answer my interview questions.

Annette Blair said...

I've posted the link to twitter and facebook, so I'll keep checking back in case people have questions. I sincerely apologize.

CLMcCune said...

Hi Annette...Miss chatting with you on myspace...I left & went to twitter and FB. Just wanted to stop by & say HI:) & keep `em coming!

Annette Blair said...

Thanks, CL, I am keeping them coming, which is why I nearly missed the entire blog day--revisions. Thanks for stopping in.

Laurie Adams said...

I really enjoyed reading this interview. I love nothing more than a down-to-earth author who is such a "normal" person. (Of course, we all have people, conversations and places living in our heads all the time, so how normal is THAT? ) but it's always a pleasure to read what you have to say Annette. You always make me feel like we can do anything if we never give up.

Annette Blair said...

Laurie, my mother made me believe that we COULD do anything if we never give up, and I pretty much proved it. Nobody knew less about writing than I did when I started. Thanks for the nice compliment. Normal, like you say, with people, places and coversations living in our heads. LOL. As normal as any writer gets. Thanks for dropping by.

Annette Blair said...

Jane, I just found that I marked this blog down on my February calendar page, instead of January. What a goof I am. On the upside, my revisions for Skirting the Grave went in this morning, ON TIME!