Book Monster Reviews and LITERAL ADDICTION Paranormal Book Club have teamed up to bring you an amazing interview with National Bestselling and award winning author Annette Blair. Annette will be doing a Q&A Interview here on Book Monster Reviews (referenced, and transcript copied to LITERAL ADDICTION as well), with a Giveaway Contest following the event.
Annette Blair Interview with Book Monster Reviews
A bewitching interview with Annette Blair!
Annette: Thank you for inviting me. I hope everyone had a wonderful 4th of July. I’m thrilled to be here on the release date (YES IT’S OUT TODAY!) for Skirting the Grave, my 4th Vintage Magic Mystery. Makes it a great day all around.
Book Monster Reviews/LITERAL ADDICTION: We always start off our interviews with questions to get to know our authors a little bit better.
1) Can you tell us 3 things your fans may not know about you that we can't find out on the internet?
Annette: Well, you’ll find this on the internet now, but . . .
1) I wanted to be a nun, until a certain grammar school nemesis came along in the guise of a blind date and swept me off my feet.
2) When my children were small, I baked and decorated wedding cakes. This is big, because I’m NOT known for being domestic, these days.
3) My daughter is a hospital and hospice care chaplain scheduled to be ordained next month, and I’m quite proud of her.
2) Do you have a specific routine you follow when you write, i.e things you must have with you or things that you have to do to get the creative juices flowing?
Annette: No, no routines for me. I wake up, open my eyes, my mind fills with my work in progress, and I sit at my computer in my jammies. I eat when I get hungry, shower when the zing of writing slows, and change into a fresh nightgown. However, the nightgowns can’t be any old kind. I have sets of Land’s End cotton gowns (long, sleeved, short sleeved, depending on the season) and matching robes. My husband calls them my writing uniforms or my Anti-Bob Devices. Other men get excited when their wives undress. Mine gets excited when I do dress.
3) What is a typical day in the life of Annette Blair?
Annette: My days tend to run into each other. If I have breakfast with hubby and son, it’s because I’ve been writing all night and haven’t been to bed yet. A day might start at noon if I went to bed at six a.m. and I might until midnight or 3 or 4 or 7 a.m. There really is no typical in my life. I’m a slave to my deadlines. As I said, I go from bed to computer.
4) What do you like to do in your spare time?
Annette: What spare time? I make time for family. Took a day off last week to go out with hubby; he lured me away from the computer. We had a family picnic yesterday where my 5 & 7 yr old grandchildren entertained. We’re going out with my sisters tomorrow to celebrate July 4th. I try to spend a day with the grands, quality time, every couple of weeks.I like to go antiquing, which is rare now, but I collect 19th century glass slippers. Favorites are made as early as 1876, but there are later designs from defunct glass companies, that I really love, like Degenhart’s mini slipper and Westmoreland’s granny slipper. I don’t collect all styles. In the Fenton line, for instance, I collect only hobnail. Among my favorites are the advertising slippers made in the 1880’s by Duncan & Sons and Bryce Brothers. My guess is that I have around 250 slippers, half each from the 19th and early 20th centuries.
I go biking for exercise along the Blackstone River with husband and son. I can’t go as far as they can but I’m getting there.
I like to ferret out vintage clothes and purses for my Vintage Magic Mystery Series.
I love to travel. My husband is of course my favorite traveling companion, but I’ve traveled with other writers for writing retreats that are fabulous and always get the creative juices flowing.
5) We know you struggled for 12 years before you finally made your first sale. What were your feelings when you finally sold your first novel (or first 3 in your case), and when you first saw the art for the finished cover?
Annette: It wasn’t quite 12 years, though I started in 1987, it was during Christmas break from school, (I was a prep school administrator). I started writing on December 26th to be exact., so I really started in January 1988. And I sold in June 1998. So I like to think of it as 10 years.
The late, great Kate Duffy from Kensington bought my first three books, LADY PATIENCE, LADY FAITH, & THEE, I LOVE, and when we spoke on the phone, I looked down at my hand and saw that it was shaking something fierce. I had never trembled like that before. Never since, either. She knew I was shaken so she said we’d hang up, and I could call all my friends, and we’d talk the next day. I had always imagined that I’d be at school and I’d go from office to office telling my co-workers/friends I’d sold, or I’d be home and the sun would be shining and my whole family would be here. But it was a rainy day. I was on vacation from school, writing my little heart out. My husband and children were all traveling and in three different states. After I paced quietly for a few minutes to take it all in, a sob rose in me from so deep it almost hurt. Wow, did I cry. Then when I composed myself, I called my mother. I was nearly crying too hard to tell her, and she cried with me. Then I called my best writer friend. Then my husband and kids, because I had to wait till later in the day to get them.
The first book out was LADY PATIENCE. I don’t remember seeing the cover art. But I remember the day the box of author copies arrived and I opened it, and held that book of my own in my hand for the first time. I ran my hand over it and there came that sob from deep-down, again. My husband put his arms around me and I cried for happy again.
6) You started off writing historical romances and continued for many years. What inspired you to start writing about witches and dragons?
Meanwhile, I only wrote four of the six Regency Historical ROGUES CLUB novels, and oddly enough, I plotted the 5th this week, Myles Quartermaine’s story, a surprise even to me. They’ll all go back to print with, I hope, the last two, Hunter Elija’s story too.
7) You have been publishing books since 1999. How do you feel the industry has changed over the last decade?
Annette: The good news is, the world still wants excellent character-driven storytelling. But given our ability to self publish and/or publish with the big six, I think the sky is the limit for authors right now. We’re in the driver’s seat. That’s the biggest change, driven by the rise of e-books and e-readers. I think it’s time to let our imaginations run wild, and write the books of our heart.
8) Who are some of your favorite authors and what is it that strikes you most about their work?
Annette: Charlotte Bronte, Jane Austen, Susan Elizabeth Phillips, Mary Balogh, Nora Roberts, Janet Evanovich, Madelyn Alt are favorites.
I’ve been in love with Mr. Rochester since I was eleven, so Jane Eyre is an all time favorite of mine. I’ve been to the Bronte Parsonage, cried at Charlotte’s grave, and walked the moors the Bronte sisters and brother walked. Jane Eyre is everything a good romance should be.
Jane Austen is of course right up there. My faves are Pride and Prejudice, adore Mr. Darcy, Sense and Sensibility, and Persuasion.
Sue Phillips will always give you a good read and a good laugh. Buying her books is a no brainer.
Mary Balogh is my idol. I started writing Regency Historicals with the hope of making readers as happy and giving them as much hope as Mary Balogh gave me with her Regencies.
Nora is a goddess. What more can I say. She’s brilliant.
Janet Evanovich is a hoot. I’ve listened to her Stephanie Plum novels on tape while driving and had to pull over to laugh or lose control of the car.
I adore Madelyn Alt’s Bewitching series and I was so thrilled to join her as a Prime Crime author when I got the contract for the Vintage Magic Mysteries.
9) If you could spend the day with one of your characters, who would it be and why?
10) Out of all your series, which do you find the most difficult to write and why?
Annette: My mysteries are both the easiest and the most difficult. They’re easiest because it’s first person, in Madeira Cutler’s Point of View, so I’m the sleuth. That makes writing easier. However, because I’m the sleuth, I can’t plot them in advance, because I want the sleuth to stay in the dark until the end, so it’s really a mystery. I have a big mouth. If I knew the killer, I’d give it away too soon. So the same reason that makes them easy makes them hard. Are you with me? Anyway, I can be a week away from turning in the book and not know yet who did it. Ack!
11) What is the most common thing you hear from your readers?
Annette: “I want more . . . Amish/Rogues/Witches/Mysteries/Dragons . . . and I want them now. And you’re brilliant,” the writer quoted, tongue in cheek.
12) Can you give us an overview of what the Vintage Magic Mysteries series is about?
13) What was the inspiration behind your Vintage Magic Mysteries series?
Annette: It seems that mystery editors have these blue-sky meetings where they think up mystery series ideas. After one such meeting, because I wrote the witches and Harmony Cartwright was a psychometric triplet witch in SEX AND THE PSYCHIC WITCH, my mystery editor, Kate Seaver,. (not to be confused with my single title editor Cindy Hwang) called my agent, Nancy Yost, and asked her if I’d like to write them a mystery series.
I was actually struck dumb at the question. After waiting ten years to make that first sale, you don’t say no to a contract, but in my mind I was thinking, “I don’t know how to write no mysteries!”
My agent suggested I read the “Series Bible” which I did, then I made it my own. I set it in Mystic Connecticut instead of the South, changed some character names, added Dante the undertaker ghost and The Wiener. They wanted her shop in an old carriage house. Well, my husband rented an old carriage house for his business for years. It was the Kent County morgue first, and then the Read Funeral Chapel Carriage House. I gave THAT carriage house to my sleuth, and I included all the caskets and creepy stuff we found in our carriage house to herse. Then I returned it to my agent. My editor loved it and asked if I wanted to write a first sample chapter. I tried. And they bought it.
I was a nervous wreck writing that first book, A VEILED DECEPTION, I can tell you. But each one has gotten easier. And each print run has gotten bigger. Some of the first have gone back to print.
14) If you can tell us without completely spoiling the details for your ‘future’ readers who may be visiting, was there a part of the book that you were the most proud of, or that touched you the most?
Annette: I’ll tell you something about the first and the latest.
In the first, A VEILED DECEPTION, I loved the background of how Maddie came to love vintage clothes. Her mother had died. She was ten. Her father wanted her to go with her mother’s best friend to bring her mother’s clothes to Salvation Army, but Maddie didn’t want to give them up. She said she wanted to wear them when she grew up. “Aunt” Fiona never told Mad’s father, but she let Mad store her mother’s clothes in her garage apartment. Later, Mad went off to fashion design school and bought more vintage clothes over the years, always sending them to “Aunt” Fiona to store.
In SKIRTING THE GRAVE, the 4th in the series, out today, I’m fond of a scene where Madeira and The Wiener discover their mutual love for fifties music, so he brings an ipod with a compilation, and they rock ’n roll in Madeira’s shop. It’s sweet and funny and darned near romantic.
The endings always touch me, and they make me teary-eyed.
15) Can you give us an idea about some of the things we can expect as the series progresses?
Annette: Expect Maddie to explore the little bit of witch in her. Expect her to build a stairway to the embalming room, one floor below. She’s never been there. She would have to go down on a casket lift, and she hasn’t done that yet. She might even add a floor and build a couple of apartments. One for herself, to give her father and Fiona time alone, and one to rent out—maybe to a male journalist so she makes both the detective and Nick the FBI hunk jealous.
16) Do you have a favorite character among your series? Why do you think you love them so much?
17) This is another of our staple questions… What question have you always wanted to be asked in an interview but have never been asked, and how would you answer that question?
Annette: Yes, ask me how SKIRTING THE GRAVE is doing!
Vintage Magic Mystery, July 5, 2011
#1 Borders, Upcoming Cozies
#2 Borders, all Upcoming Mysteries
#6 Borders Mysteries & Thrillers
#8 Cozy Mysteries Amazon Canada
#21 Borders Upcoming, All Genres
18) What's next for Annette Blair? What do you have planned in the upcoming months?
Annette: I’m contracted to write mystery number 6, and I already know that they want more, so we’ll go back to contract on the mysteries for at least three more. I’m republishing my backlist—the one up are doing phenominal, like JACOB’S RETURN—and I have a new series and a novella in mind, but I can’t talk about them right now.
19) Do you have any advice for fellow and aspiring writers?
Annette: Never give up. The only guarantee in writing is that if you quit you will NEVER sell.
20) Is there anything specific you would like to say to your readers?
Annette: Thank you for reading this far. Seriously, I’d like to thank you, my readers, for being so loyal, and supportive and vocal. You’re my cheering squad, my reason for going on, even when I’m out of ideas, and I couldn’t keep going without you.
Annette, thank you so much for taking the time out of your busy schedule to answer our questions! We wish you the best of luck with your Vintage Magic Mysteries series, and all of your future endeavors, and we hope you come back again to visit Book Monster Reviews and LITERAL ADDICTION!
Annette: It’s been a pleasure to be here today. You can contact me through my website at www.annetteblair.com or https://www.facebook.com/annette.blair.author#!/annette.blair.author
CONTEST: If in your comments, you can tell me the name of my first mystery, I’ll enter you in a drawing to win a copy of any of my first 3 mysteries. That way, if you haven’t read any, you can have the first.