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Friday, July 11, 2014

A "Chance" meeting with Anne Gracie (and a fun giveaway!)

AG as Dame Babs at a RWAus party
I have a very special guest with me today... Anne Gracie.  Anne and I are "twins" (in the sense we share a birthday) and in the dark days when it looked like Romance Writers of Australia may fold, Anne was one of the stalwart band who came to the party with her Capricornian good sense. We have been good friends ever since and I have to confess I am a huge fan of her books! (I have an Anne Gracie shelf).

One thing I love about Anne is her sense of fun. She is responsible for introducing fancy dress into the Romance Writers of Australia conference, for which I will always thank her... and just to illustrate how similarly we think...We randomly turned up to one cocktail party dressed as the Elizabeth Peters's characters from THE CROCODILE ON THE SANDBANK.  My husband and I went as Amelia and Emerson and Anne turned up as "the crocodile on the sandbank". Totally unplanned!

The cast of The Crocodile on the Sandbank

Apart from being a fabulous writer of Regency Romantics, Anne is also one of the best teachers of the subject I have ever come across and on 23rd August and 13th September she will teaching a couple of writing classes at Ripponlea, for the National Trust of Victoria, as part of their wonderful Love, Desire and Riches —the Fashion of Weddings exhibition.  If you are interested in attending, classses are limited to 20 and cost $25 and are worth every cent! To book click HERE

Anne, you and I have shared many a cup of tea (and many glasses of something stronger). In honour of your Malaysian connections, I have sourced the finest Boh Tea from the Cameron Highlands. I hope that will suit?

Thanks so much for inviting me, Alison. Boh tea would be lovely. I have very fond memories of staying in the Cameron Highlands.

Anne age 7
Your parents were teachers with a yen for adventure so as a child you lived all around the world. What influence did your parents and their peripatetic lifestyle have on you as a writer?

I think it made me quite adaptable, but also very self-sufficient. It also made me somewhat of a hoarder, as so many of my prized possessions were jettisoned as we moved from place to place, that once I grew up, I tended to keep everything. I'm trying to overcome that now.

At school in Scotland 
Why did you decide to follow in your parents footsteps and become a teacher? Do you still teach?

It was a terrible shock to me, as growing up in a family of teachers -- and being the youngest -- teaching was the very last thing I wanted. However in my final year of high school, my inner-city academic high school took in its first intake of local kids, and found they needed help, so they started a cross-age tutoring scheme. I became fascinated with kids and learning difficulties, so much so that instead of doing a law degree, I changed to arts and education. I've never regretted it. I loved teaching.

I no longer teach in schools, but still teach writing from time to time.

You have been a huge influence of many young up and coming writers in your career (including me!) as a teacher, what started you on your own writing career?

Thank you. I've always had stories in my head, but while I was teaching I was so busy with the classes and many extra-curricular activities, they were swamped. But then I took long service leave and went backpacking solo around the world, and lo! the stories started to spin in my head again and I wrote them down in exercise books. I came back with a firm plan to try to get published.

What advice do you offer to aspiring authors?

Read widely, write the kind of books you'd love to read, join a writers' organization (Romance Writers of Australia is brilliant) and do a writing course. And write, write, write. Writing is like a muscle -- the more you do the stronger it gets.

You are currently into your third series of Regency Romances, the first being the Merridew Sisters, the second the Devil Riders and the current series, the Chance Sister. What are the pleasures and pains of writing series?

The pleasures are that you're building a world and a community of people, and I really enjoy that. I also love it that readers enter and enjoy those worlds and write to me with opinions and requests for the story of this minor character or that. That's very satisfying.

The pains? A slight pain is that if another idea is calling to me, I have to set it aside and stick to the contracted book. But once I get stuck into a book, I'm so deep in that world it doesn't matter. And this is not a pain, but more of a challenge — that because I don't plan all my books out in advance, I can sometimes be starting a book that's part of a series, and have no idea where the story is going to go, only who the hero or heroine is. It's a challenge I enjoy, though. A third thing that's also not really a pain is that readers can keep requesting books, so I've written a trilogy of four books, a quartet of five books (and a sixth requested regularly by readers) and all I can say is thank goodness there are only four seasons, which will presumably limit my seasonal brides book. Though there is a possibility that there might be a Christmas Bride, too.

Congratulations on your RITA nomination for the first book in the Chance Sister series, The Autumn Bride. I know this is not your first RITA nomination but from a personal point of view how important is to receive these nominations?

Thank you. I'm always thrilled to receive a RITA nomination. This is my fifth. It's an award chosen by writers, so it's lovely to have peer recognition. And as a writer who battles constantly with self-doubt it's very reassuring to be nominated again.

The Winter Bride (with its gorgeous glacial cover) was released a couple of months ago? This is the second book in “Chance Sisters” series, for anyone not familiar with the background, what is the premise behind this particular series?

The Chance sisters series is about four girls who come together in adversity and vow to be as sisters. A desperate act introduces them to an aristocratic, eccentric old lady, who then decides to present them to society as her nieces. It's a fun, rags-to riches adventure, with each book about each sister's journey to happiness.

Anne is giving away a copy (print or digital) of her RITA finalling book THE AUTUMN BRIDE (see below for details)

Governess Abigail Chantry will do anything to save her sister and two dearest friends from destitution, even if it means breaking into an empty mansion in the hope of finding something to sell. Instead of treasure, though, she finds the owner. Lady Beatrice Davenham, bedridden and neglected. Appalled, Abby rousts Lady Beatrice's predatory servants and — with Lady Beatrice's eager cooperation— the four young ladies become her "nieces," neatly eliminating the threat of disaster for all concerned!
It's the perfect situation, until Lady Beatrice's dashing and arrogant nephew, Max, Lord Davenham, returns from the Orient — and discovers an impostor running his household. . .


Anne Gracie spent her childhood on the move when her father's job took them around the world. The gypsy life taught her that humour & love are universal languages and that favorite books can take you home, wherever you are.
First published by Harlequin, and with eleven historical romances published by Berkley/Penguin, Anne is a nationally bestselling author in the US, has won numerous awards, is a lifetime member of Romance Writers of Australia and feels very lucky to have the life she does.
Visit Anne at her website or on Facebook. Anne blogs regularly with the wonderful Word Wenches. 

BUY Anne's books at Barnes & Noble, Amazon, Indie Bound or the Book Depository (free postage worldwide!). In Australia you will also find them on

TO WIN a copy of the AUTUMN BRIDE... leave a comment telling us which covers you prefer! The winner will be randomly chosen but it will be fun to see which covers attract you the most! (Don't forget to leave your email address!!!)