Thursday, July 16, 2009

Tote Bag of Blogs Presents Special Anne McAllister

Today's contributor to the Tote Bag of Books is struggling to fit everything around the arrival of a brand-new grandchild. The second this year.

This important event means that she has to miss the RWA nationals which is a great pity for two reasons

1. That I won't get to see her there this year


2. She has a very special reason for being there if she could. But I'll let her tell you about that.

I am of course talking about Anne McAllister who has donated one of her backlist books to the Tote Bag - The Antonides Marriage Deal. I'll let Anne tell you more about that.

Following the Story

As someone who has just finished writing her 63rd (I think; I've kind of lost track, sacrilege though it may seem) book, I sometimes blink when people tell me they've just read their first Anne McAllister -- and it's my most recent book.

I'm delighted, naturally (if they liked it, at least) and happy that I can point them toward a long back-list if they are interested. But I think, oh dear, at the same time because I worry that I have so little impact on the Presents line (I've been writing for Presents since 1985, so I'm not a newbie).

But then I realize that I wouldn't have a career at all if I hadn't done what I've been doing for the past 25 years -- and that is simply 'following the story.'

Other writers seem to be able to focus their attention on characters whose stories fit into the criteria that editorial and/or marketing has determined for a single or at most a couple of lines. And more power to them. Lucky them, I say, because their readers know where to find them.

Mine, if they are so inclined, have had to follow me all over the map.

My first book, which was the second one published, came out as a Harlequin Romance called Dare To Trust. The second one, which came out first, was a Harlequin American called Starstruck. The third one, which I sold at the same time I sold the first, was a Harlequin Presents called Lightning Storm. The fourth and fifth were Harlequin Americans. All five of them came out that first year. The sixth was a Presents. the seventh an American . . . and, well, you see what I mean: who knew where I was going to turn up next? Not even I knew.

The characters did what they did. I just followed them around and took notes. Editors on both sides of the Atlantic despaired.

And then, just when they thought they had me sorted out, I plunged deep into my well of inspiration -- and my own background -- in the early 1990s and I came up with A Cowboy For Christmas (a Harlequin American). That in short order led me to a bunch of books for Silhouette (both Desire and Special Editions, naturally, as well as a couple of single titles -- all related to each other in a series of my own called Code of the West ) that had to do with cowboys. The last one I snuck in as a Presents last year -- One-Night Love Child. Don't tell.

This detour was basically because Presents wasn't doing cowboy heroes unless, as my then-editor told me, "They owned multi-national corporations on the side."

"Does he, Anne?" he asked me. Well, gosh, no, he didn't own much more than his saddle. He was a "died with his boots on," sort of cowboy, as my long-suffering editor sighed. Imagine that.

Whatever Tanner was, he wouldn't change for editorial, so I followed his story -- Cowboys Don't Cry -- to Silhouette, had a lovely time there, and wrote many books of my heart for them by following a lot of cowboy heroes as they told me their stories.

But all the while I was also still writing Presents because some of my stories belonged there.

There was one here, one there. One in any particular year, then another a couple of years after that. Not precisely designed to build readership, my editor pointed out, er, pointedly. But the characters did what they did and I just wrote. The alternative was staring at the blank screen. Not a good idea. Not lucrative, for one thing. Not as much fun as writing, for another.

But now I write mostly for Presents because, other than cowboys, Presents pretty much lets me write about what I want.

They let me write about men who may or may not be billionaires -- or even millionaires. They don't care that I don't want to write sheikhs. Or if they care, they're polite enough not to tell me so. They let me write McAllister heroes (as long as they don't wear spurs -- though I admit I'm working on that) and they trust that when the time comes a McAllister hero will be able to handle whatever life -- and the heroine - throws at him, which is sometimes quite a lot.

Over the past years, bless their hearts, they have let me have heroes who are architects and surfers and racing sailors. They have welcomed injured soccer goalkeepers, children's book illustrators doubling as recurrent lifeguards, professional beach volleyball players, investigative journalists, New York fashion photographers, oil rig firemen, scuba diving archaeologists, and ex-Navy pilots running their own island transport business.

Last autumn they even asked for a book about my Savas brother physicist, George (this could be part of the "give her enough rope and she'll hang herself" approach to publishing me in Presents, but we won't look too closely at that). Whatever the reason, George is next.

He would be next no matter where his story took him because that's the only reason I can write at all. But I'm delighted that he's in contract for Presents. The expectations of editorial -- and readers -- are bound to make George pull his socks up, get out of the lab and do something heroic. I hope.

I'm equally delighted that my surfer hero, PJ, is a RITA finalist this week which means that at least five people liked him and his story. I'm grateful for editors who see that there is more to 'alpha' that the stereotype and more to success and competence and being a great hero than a big bank balance.

The next one in the publishing schedule is a lawyer (kill me now before I ever suggest writing another lawyer hero), Christo Savas, who has his life very neatly on track and there's no room on that track for a wife. Natalie remembers Christo all too well -- and frankly, she wouldn't have him on a plate. So when she ends up working with him, it's going to be purely business -- they hope.

It's called One-Night Mistress, Convenient Marriage and is coming out in November both as a Modern in UK and a Presents in the US. I hope you'll look for it.

Kate says we are to ask a question that will send you to our blogs. So mine is:

What is the title of PJ's book -- the one that is the RITA finalist this week?

You can find the answer on my blog as I'll be mentioning him this week.


Laney4 said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Laney4 said...

Hi! Thanks so much for offering such great interviews! I enjoyed reading the blog. Especially enjoyed hearing about someone who writes what SHE wants to write! It's obviously working well!

Anne McAllister said...

Thanks, Laney4. I've enjoyed reading all the various blogs by my fellow Presents writers, too. It's fun to read how other people approach writing for the line and what appeals most to them.


Home Bio Books USA Readers Writers Contests Events Blog Links

Join Kate's Newsletter

Email Kate

Modified and Maintained by HR Web Concepts