Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Tuesdays Tidbits with Kari: Featuring Author Ann Stephens

Gooooood morning, bloggerland! Today is Tuesday, and we have the fabulous author Ann Stephens here to share some writing tips and tell us all a little bit about her debut novel for Kensington called To Be Seduced! So give her warm welcome, and chime in on the comment section with anything that comes to mind :-) Take it away, Ann....




The Importance of Being Evil



First off, thank-you to Kari, Liz, Cassy & Mary for inviting me here today. To echo the basic introduction used at my critique group: Hello, my name is Ann and I write historical romance. If that sounds like something you’d hear at a 12-step program, well…writing is definitely an addiction. I started out making up stories after my mom tucked into bed. Eventually I started writing them down. I must have started dozens of stories while studying theater, waitressing, typesetting (on a machine that used paper tape…yeah, I’m that old!), and managing a small office. Somewhere in there, I married an incredibly patient man and raised our two diva daughters, which might explain why I never actually finished a story until my forties.



What, you may be asking, is a romance writer is doing posting at a blog entitled Mysteries and Margaritas? Especially if she writes about eras before the Margarita was invented?? (Personally, margaritas would be my anachronism of choice. Why not Pride and Prejudice and Cuervo or Sense and Sensibility and Stoly?) However, while I thoroughly enjoy writing my genre, I don’t limit my reading to romance. Mysteries have their place on my bookshelves, preferably those placed in past eras. And in my quest to keep readers wondering what happens next, I’m not above threatening my characters’ lives with the machinations of a good scoundrel!



Like many writers, part of my preparation for a new book includes character biographies. Not just physical descriptions, but birth date & place, family background, education, right down to the quirks and habits that make them tick. For me, that helps get inside the mind of a character and discover their motivation. Why does a devoted brother resort to kidnapping an heiress? Just what constitutes a rebellious act in the mind of an overprotected girl in the Victorian era? And why does the orderly hero of my work-in-progress insist on keeping a hairy, muddy mutt?



Every major character gets some kind of notes written down before I start the story, but the most detailed are for the hero, the heroine, and the villain. After all, the best heroes and heroines need a blackguard strong enough and smart enough to be a real threat. Never mind Sherlock Holmes and Moriarty -- what would Amelia Peabody and her Emerson (he is my latest literary crush, btw – what a hunk!) be without the elusive Sethos?

Years ago, a theater professor reminded his class about playing bad boys (or girls): “You have to find something you like about your character.” One dimensional antagonists are as dull as any other poorly drawn character. Of course, when writing a well-rounded villain, it’s possible to get attached to him or her.



This happened in my upcoming release, HER SCOTTISH GROOM. My villain is charming, handsome, and grew up as a poor relation. He’s intelligent enough that the hero and heroine have to join forces to defeat him. Sadly, his murderous tendencies left me no choice but to write him into a bad end. And of course, having made such an attractive antagonist, I had to be sure he wouldn’t steal the scene from my leads. Ah well…I’ve always loved reading history, which abounds with cads, reprobates and downright psychotics in every age. There’s another book to write, which means a new villain or villainess. Where was that fascinating article about Victorian baby farmers? We’ve all read books with unforgettable villians. Which ones made the biggest impressions on you?

Thank you, Ann!

Ann Stephens’ debut novel, To be Seduced, was released in February, 2010 by Kensington Publishing. Her March 2011 release is Her Scottish Groom. Ann lives with her husband of nearly 25 years and their two black belt daughters, two spoiled cats and one slightly nervous gerbil. She escapes them by writing, reading and taking ballet classes. Visit her blog at http://annstephensromance.wordpress.com/ or look for Ann Stephens’ Page on Facebook and Ann_Stephens on Twitter.

12 comments:

Kari Lee Townsend said...

Thanks again for being here, Ann! Great post and I can't wait to read To Be Seduced!

What's on the horizon for you? Any plans to write something different?

Liz Lipperman said...

Welcome to M & M, Ann. Your historicals sound great. I love your made-up titles involving liquor.

Ann Stephens said...

Thanks again for inviting me, Kari! It's a pleasure to be here.

Ann Stephens said...

LOL, Liz...I tried to do something with Northanger Abbey and Harvey Wallbangers...but no, that really sounds wrong.

Lindsay said...

Liz, or you could have-Emma's Wine.
Great interview.
Ann-Havey's Northanger Abbey Wallbanger.

Ann Stephens said...

Good ones, Lindsey! Maybe Mansfield Park Mojitos :)

Mary Martinez said...

Thanks Kari and Ann, even though I'm late reading today.

I'm with Liz love the titles. I do love Mojitos and Wine.

Great blog!

Lindsay said...

Then if you're an English nobleman there's always Whites Wine Spritzzer

Ann Stephens said...

No worries, Mary, blogs often have to be read in between day jobs, taking care of the family & duh -- writing! :)

Ann Stephens said...

True, Lindsey, though I still chuckle over the idea of Lizzie and Jane drowning their romantic sorrows over a pitcher of margaritas.

Amazingrose said...

Love to read your book.

Ann Stephens said...

Thank you, Amazingrose. Hope you get a chance to.