From Mary Jo
A blog is a life form of sorts, and it grows, changes, evolves. The Word Wenches will miss Loretta Chase’s wit and wisdom as she disappears into the thorny toils of her next wonderful book, and two other hard working Wenches will be cutting back on the number of posts for similar reasons.
But—the good news for regular Word Wench readers is that Anne Gracie has agreed to join us! Anne has been a guest here, and a popular one. Not only is she a terrific writer of Regency historicals, but the fact that she is Australian adds to our cachet as sophisticated international bloggers. <g>
A former teacher and long time world traveler, Anne is one of those intrepid Australian writers who makes the long flight to the U. S. to attend romance conferences, which is how several of us have had the chance to meet her face to face. I can testify that she is just as much fun in person as her books are on the printed page.
Having just turned in her third Devil Rider book, she is now taking her bow. So here she is—Anne Gracie, distinguished author of historical romances and the newest Word Wench. Welcome, Anne!
Thanks, Mary Jo for that gorgeous introduction, and Sherrie, too, for the one the day before. I'm thrilled to be here—thank you to all the wenches for inviting me. I feel very sad that Loretta's stepping back, and I hope she doesn't take this the wrong way when I say she has big shoes to fill 😉 so I'm not even going to try to fill them. She's irreplaceable — as are all the wenches.
So… for an introduction: I grew up as the youngest (by a long shot) in a family of four kids, two schoolteacher parents, and various animals — many of which I brought home, usually just after sundown so my mother couldn't send me out in the dark "to take the wretched creature back ." I knew that despite her apparent hostility, the wretched creature would soon become "a poor little thing" in dire need of feeding by my mother, and that once fed, it could stay.<G> I was animal girl by day and bookworm by night. I read everything and anything and in any town we moved to the first place I found was the lib
Once I escaped from the gypsy parents (who were living in Malaysia by then), I settled down, studied, and became a high school teacher. But itchy feet are in my genes and after some time I decided to spend a year backpacking around the world — starting with North America, then heading for the UK and Europe and coming home through Asia.
It was actually my third time in the UK and Europe — the first as a kid, when we lived in Scotland and traveled the UK, Europe and Ireland with a caravan in the summer. And I'd been to Europe for 3 months with a school friend while we were at university. It's not an unusual thing for young Australians and New Zealanders to go a'traveling — it's a kind of rite of passage for us.
But on this last big trip I was traveling on my own, and that's what started me writing again — all my writing had been teaching related for years. So at the end of that year I came back to Australia with A Plan — I was going to become a full time writer. (I had visions of sitting on a Greek island or a beach in Brittany, tapping out books. LOL
I tried a few different types of contemporary romance, but I was pretty ignorant about the market. I had no idea people were publishing historical romance — I'd never seen any in Australian bookstores. And then I spotted some Mills and Boon regencies in my local library.
That was the lightbulb moment. I'd grown up on Georgette Heyer — had devoured them since I was eleven. (My first, for any Heyerites out there was These Old Shades.) So then I started writing a Regency historical — and felt right at home.
My first book, Gallant Waif, was published in 1999 by Harlequin, Mills and Boon, London, and a year later it came out in Australia (in a "brick" of three 90K historicals in one book— tiny, tiny print and nobody bought it.) Then in 2001 it came out in the USA and everything changed. Suddenly I had readers — and none of them were related to me. (Pause for quick rest on fainting couch.)
HM&B were very good to me (and still are) but I found it depressing that the books only stayed on the shelves for a month. So eventually I sent a manuscript to an agent I'd met at RWA national in Washington, and she sold it to Berkley.
That book was called The Perfect Rake. It was about a plain heroine who was trying to care for four beautiful younger sisters. My Berkley editor floored me when she asked what the rest in the series were about. I hadn't even considered a series. (I'd started the book, thinking it would go to Harlequin, and they'd made it clear they didn't want a series from me.) So then I found myself with a series to write and I found I loved doing it.
Now I'm on my 13th book, half way through my second series, and can't believe how lucky I am. And I'm a Word Wench! I'd head for that Greek island, too, only my dog won't let me leave the country for long. That's her in the red boa. She's a kelpie (a sheep and cattle working dog) and don't be misled by the feathers — she's very smart. She supervises me as I write (muscling in on the strip heater under the desk, mostly) and drags me out for walks if I forget the time.
I'm giving away a couple of books — your choice of my backlist (as long as I have a copy left of that title) and a copy of the current HM&B reprint of my Christmas novella, The Virtuous Widow. It's a historical — don't be misled by the modern cover. It's a special edition: one of twenty-four books reprinted to celebrate the 100th birthday of Mills and Boon. I'm really honored to be in there, too.