Of course you want to know, what is LLC 2015? It is short for LoveLetter Convention 2015, and it takes place in Berlin, Germany, on May 2 and 3, 2015. There are lots of German authors attending, but there are also some really nice (and famous!) authors from America, Canada, England and Australia.
Annie West is one of the Australian authors attending. She attended the convention last year, in 2014, and is now returning for another fun weekend. We had a blast in the previous 3 years, and to add to the advance fun of the event, we have decided to do some interviews with the authors we will be meeting. Some of them are attending for the first time; others had a great time in a previous year and are coming again! So if you have the opportunity to visit Berlin for some sightseeing, why not attend the convention as well? Or let your family do the sightseeing, and you do the convention. If you want to check it out, here is a link to the website:
Our guest today is Annie West, author of category romances for Harlequin and Mills and Boon. We have both read some of her books, and were pleasantly surprised by them. Even though the tropes are well used, Annie gives them a fresh and original spin.
Aurian: Welcome back to Utrecht, Annie. Would you like something hot to drink in this cold weather? And of course some Dutch cookies.
Annie: Thanks for the warm welcome, Aurian and Freya. It’s lovely of you to invite me to stop by. I’m so looking forward to seeing you in person again in Berlin. In the meantime I’ll definitely have some hot chocolate and Dutch cookies. Unless, of course, you have some stroopwafeln. I remember those sweet Dutch treats from last year.
Aurian: What did you like most about the convention last year, and what made you decide to come again?
Annie: Definitely the readers. There were so many readers, all smiling and enjoying themselves and ready to chat about books. Every time I sat down in the common areas I found myself talking with people about romances we’ve enjoyed and so many other things. It’s great for an author, especially one from so far away, to be welcomed so warmly by readers. Of course I had to return! I had such a marvellous time that I promised myself last year that I’d come back. I’m hoping to see familiar faces again and meet lots of new people as well.
Freya: Last year you did not have time to visit the Rittersport store, something you were determined to do. Are you planning to go for it this year?
Annie: Freya, I’d love to. I only have one free day in Berlin and it was on the list to do but as 1st May is a holiday I’m not sure if the store will be open. I’ll have to investigate.
Aurian: If you could see only one monument/famous building/historical place in Berlin while you are there, what place would you absolutely have to see?
Annie: Aurian, it would have to be the Brandenburg Gate, and the place just behind it where the wall used to be. Seeing that on my first visit was very moving.
Freya: After the convention last year you met up with your husband, and travelled together through Austria and Italy. I loved your pictures! What are your plans for this year?
Annie: My trip to Germany is very short, sadly, but after Berlin I’ll have a couple of days in Ireland then in Scotland catching up with people I haven’t seen in a long time. After that I’m fitting in a very brief holiday in Copenhagen. I’ve never been to Denmark before and I’m looking forward to exploring. If anyone has suggestions for my stay please let me know! I think the hardest part of the trip will be returning to Australia.
Freya: Lots of your books are part of multi author series. How do you get involved in those, do you have a meeting with all the authors to discuss story lines, or is it more like a relay, with one author writing the first book, and another the next based on what has happened before? Or does the publisher give you all some rules or a storyboard to use? Can you explain a bit?
Annie: Well, I’ve only been in two multi-author continuities, but they’ve been fascinating experiences. In both cases the overall story world is developed in-house by the editorial team and authors are asked if they’d participate. That means I receive a page or two outlining who my characters are, their names (though I did change two of them) and their backstory. We have an idea of the overall theme of the series and often there will be a character from another story who has to be introduced in our book, or maybe a certain event that’s mentioned. But as for the rest – it’s up to us. I found the most challenging thing was to take that very brief outline and turn it (and the characters) into something absolutely real and meaningful for me.
Timelines can be quite tight to ensure that all the stories gel and, yes, authors do discuss what they’re doing – usually on a private email loop. That way we can ensure one author isn’t setting up a situation that will make things horribly difficult for another. In my experience the authors actually write their books more or less at the same time. I only get to read the other stories in the continuity when they’re published. It’s enormously satisfying, reading a story you heard so much about while it was being written.
Aurian: Have you ever wanted to write a story about a certain character, used as a secondary character in your book, and was disappointed that another author got that assignment?
Annie: No. All my books, apart from the two continuity stories (‘Rebel’s Bargain’ and ‘Scandal: His Majesty’s Love Child’) are totally from my imagination so I get to choose which characters I write about. I do have experience though of writing a romance for someone who was a secondary character in a previous book. It’s so satisfying to see how they overcame their difficulties and got their own happy ever after. In fact the book I’m working on at the moment is one of these.
Freya: Would you like to write a whole series yourself someday, about one big family and making all the siblings fall in love?
Annie: Well, I’ve done that a little in the past. My first two sheikh stories featured cousins who ended up marrying two sisters. My first two European royal stories featured cousins again (I see a trend!) and my most recent releases follow a sultan and then his sister to their happy endings. I’m also writing a series of e published novellas (Hot Italian Nights) which follow a range of characters, mainly siblings. The second one of those was actually inspired by a trip I took to the Italian Alps after last year’s Love Letter Convention.
Aurian: Whom do you secretly prefer to write about, hot rich Italian or Greek guys, or hot, rich and exotic Sheiks and Sultans?
Annie: I’m not sure if I should admit this but I fall in love with each of my heroes as I write them. I think if I didn’t fall for them myself I’d have a difficult time making them into a compelling hero. So, the short answer is that I don’t have a preference based on nationality. Each appears in my head as a specific individual with their own traits and problems. Often their nationalities come much later. It’s interesting to note though that all my sheikhs have an intensely honourable and protective streak. Sometimes more so than my other heroes.
Thanks for the interview Annie! We do look forward to meeting you in Berlin again.
Where to find Annie West?
- bio -
Growing up on the east coast of Australia, I didn't get to ride a kangaroo to school but I did acquire some valuable survival skills like what to do when faced with a venomous snake or when caught in a dangerous rip while surfing. As the dangers of ocean swimming involved close observation of tall, burnished surf life savers, you could say I began researching early to become a romance writer.
I've been a reader almost as long as I can remember and the idea of being without a book sends a chill down my spine. In my teens I got hooked on romance and never looked back. The boys at school just didn't make the grade when compared with all those charismatic romance heroes.
Fortunately I found my own tall, dark romantic hero while at university, where despite the distraction I completed an honours degree in Classics. After a surprisingly interesting career in public administration I found myself with young children and a burning desire to do what I'd always secretly dreamed - to write romance rather than government reports. I've been writing fiction ever since and loving it.
Along the way my books have hit bestseller lists, including USA Today, as well as finalling in or winning a range of awards including the Romantic Times Reviewers' Choice Award.
Now I live with my family at Lake Macquarie, north of Sydney. We're close to marvellous wine country, superb beaches and the beautiful lake. My favourite things are books, travel, long walks, good company and great food. I get to spend my days fantasising about gorgeous men and their love lives, which can be hard work, but I have no regrets. There's nothing better than that sigh-worthy moment when your hero and heroine finally get their happy ending, or when a reader contacts you to say they loved your story too.
I adore hearing from readers, so feel free to contact me. You can also subscribe to my occasional online newsletters via email.
© 2015 Reviews by Aurian