Ann Lawrence

Well, first off let's meet the writers herself. Describe yourself, what you write, and any miscellaneous tidbits the readers might like to hear. :)

This is a very tough question! I describe myself as a writer of paranormal and historical romance...I love both. I also have to say I never wanted to be a writer when I was young as so many authors say. In fact, I hated writing in high school and college. Give me a theme (or an interview : ) and I freeze. I'm never sure what to say.

But I do know that I like to tell stories and entertained my little sister with stories before we went to bed at night as well as making up stories for my son and daughter. I think I also told my mother a few stories about where I was on a few Friday nights...but that's a different story, so to speak : )About me...

I was born in England and raised in the Phila. area. My dad was in the British Royal Navy and my mom is of a Scottish background. I grew up with tales of England and have been back for visits to family. I love the castles, cathedrals, and immense sense of history there. I like to use the places I visit in my stories as well. My husband and I have traveled extensively in the United States and I use my favorite places as settings in both my historical and paranormal books--altered for the alternative reality books, of course. I like to "feel" the settings, "hear" what's going on and so forth.

When did you first start writing, and what's your writing background been like?

I have no formal writing background other than the obligatory college courses. I have a teaching background (in my "other" life, I teach fifth grade.) I started writing when I got a laptop and it's just blossomed from there. I can't write at a desk, so mostly, I write in bed, at the kitchen table with my daughter as she does her homework and so on...BR>

What jobs have you held, and how have they influenced your writing, if at all?

I've been teaching for over twenty years. I do use my teaching skills when I give a workshop etc, but I'd say my writing has more been influenced by my students rather than the other way around.

I've really learned, through examining my own work, how to get across some writing techniques to kids. And I can't say enough about the freedom of thought I find in children. They aren't thinking about guidelines and are not afraid to try new ideas. It's so refreshing to read their work or just toss out an idea and watch that idea bloom into something terrific. I'm probably too easy a grader as a result of my writing...I know how hard writing can be and a "budding" writer will always get the benefit of the doubt from me.BR>

How on earth do you think up such wonderful characters!? I have to admit, I'm in love with Vad, but your characters are all very awesome.

First, thank you for the compliment! Unfortunately, I don't know where they come from! Somewhere in my brain, I guess. I picture my brain as this marvelous swamp and things just bubble to the top and pop out! I definitely don't use real people. That said, my husband is one of my personal heroes--and I do try to put some of his qualities in my heroes for Dorchester's Perfect Heroes line.

What books and authors do YOU like to read?

Wow. I could fill a page with this answer! I'm an eclectic reader. I love time-travel/paranormal and historical romance best. I read Gabaldon, Terri Brisbin, Tracy Fobes, Lindsey, Lowell, Quick, Woodiwiss (author I started with) ... Gee I could go on for days. I especially like to try out a new author. I like to get my recommendations from friends whose taste is like mine. I do read other genres as well: Anything Dick Francis, Nelson Demille, John Sandford, Stephen King...

I've found that when I'm writing, I tend to read non-fiction stuff for the time period like letters, journals, biographies of historical figures, research stuff. I can't start a book while I'm writing or the writing stops and the reading goes on until I finish the book. Which is not good when there's a deadline looming :)

What advice would you give aspiring writers?

Write write write. I think the most important thing you can do is write constantly. Some days the writing will end up in the trash file, but no matter what, be disciplined and do it. I also recommend contests, ones that offer an entree to an editor. That's how I sold my first book. I entered the Golden Heart, finalled in that and then went on to enter a contest by the Valley Forge Romance Writers with the same manuscript and the editor who judge d the contest bought the book. So I didn't really go through the usual send it out, get it rejected stuff. I had not yet gotten up the nerve to start sending it out... I'm not the world's most confident person. I have a wonderful critique group that pushes me to be harder...and without them, I never would have put my work before the public.

What is your next book(s), and when is it/they due out?

My next book is called VIRTUAL DESIRE (0-505-52393-0) and is due out August of 2000. It's another virtual-reality book and features Vad who was the friend of the hero in my first book, VIRTUAL HEAVEN. It's a quest story and I hope the readers will like it. I had a lot of fun with Vad who is too good-looking to be believed. What a tough life he leads...all that adoration : ) Readers can check out an excerpt on my website and I've just put up the cover art.

I'm working up a proposal for my fourth "perfect hero" book for Dorchester. I've got one that is about Gabriel d'Anjou from LORD OF THE KEEP, but I also have ideas for another virtual-reality story churning around. It will depend on what my editor wants next. Hopefully, both : )

What attracts you to the paranormal?

Good question. I like danger and risk taking I suppose. Writing about it is a good outlet. There's a lot of romance in dark and dangerous and you get tormented heros. Definitely my kind of thing. I like the unknown and the worlds I can create. I'm not a sci-fi writer, although I love reading it and wish for romances in it, but with shapeshifting I can create unusual and wonderful worlds right here.

What attracts you to paranormal, or I guess in your case fantasy, romances?

I love the idea of possibilities. My agent and I discussed this once and he told me that writing horror and romance are almost the same experience. Both are emotional journeys for the reader, one a journey to be frightened, one a journey to fall in love. I liked that idea. He then went on to say mystery and sci-fi were also similar writing experiences. Both are an intellectual exercises the reader goes through--one to unwrap a puzzle, one to open the mind to new concepts. I think in some ways paranormal romance lets me combine both those emotional and intellectual experiences. I get to combine the incredible emotions of falling in love with a new possiblity--entering a virtual reality game.

How much luck have you had in getting published? How long did it take your first book to be published?

I guess I answered this in #6 except the how long...I sold VIRTUAL HEAVEN in 1997, but because it was one of the launch books for the "Perfect Heroes" line, it wasn't going to come out until 1999! That was a tortuous 2-year wait. I could say I sold a book, but it wasn't out anywhere! Also, because VIRTUAL HEAVEN had no sales figures and the virtual-reality world made it unique, the publisher wouldn't commit to a sequel, so that's why I sent them LORD OF THE KEEP! Then I heard nothing for a long time...I remember well that I had to call my editor about a workshop I was doing on perfect heroes to ask her to describe what the perfect hero line was looking for in case any writers asked about submitting to the line. We had a wonderful talk about heroes and she kept referring to Gilles in LORD OF THE KEEP and I said, does this mean you like the book? She laughed and said yes, she wanted to buy him . . . it! I was tickled pink to have sold my second book before the first one was even out. And although LORD OF THE KEEP is not paranormal, it has that "over the top" hero element that she was looking for.

You picked a very unconventional way to introduce the hero: a virtual reality game? That is definitely an original theme! How did you come up with the idea, and what has been the fan comments on it?

Thankfully, the fan comments have been overwhelming in favor of it and I hope they let my editor know : ) It all started when I was watching my daughter play a game where she appeared to be underwater swimming about to grab gold coins. Sharks were going by etc. Well, I'm watching this on a screen (she's in a little booth) and I was really getting into it and thinking "Wow, what if she got sucked into the game?" The idea for VIRTUAL HEAVEN just bloomed from there. Of course, the game *I'd* want to be sucked into would have to have warriors and quests and swords and all my favorite stuff... So, that was the seed of the idea. Add to that my love of legend and you have VIRTUAL HEAVEN!


Virtual Heaven
Lord of the Keep
A novella in Paradise

Ann Lawrence's Website