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An Interview with Anne Douglas, Author of Position Vacant

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Erotic romance author Anne Douglas was born in New Zealand where she worked as a dispensing optician. In September 2001, she moved to Florida with her family. So far, she has written three books, Tea for Three which is due for release in June 2007, Position Vacant (2006) and The McCabes: Persuading Jo (2006). All three are published by Loose Id.

When did you decide you wanted to be a writer?

Well, it was more a case of when did everyone else decide I was going to become a writer. I'm an avid reader. No, that's not quite right… I'm a voracious reader. I don't know what I would do with myself if I didn't read. Some girlfriends joked that having read so much I should be able to write romance novels in my sleep. So I took it as a dare and in January of 2006 I sat down and started typing.

I've always had, like many people, this little idea in the back of my head that one day I might like to try writing. I guess my one day came around sooner than I thought it might.

As to why I decided on erotic romance? Well, that can go back to sneaking into my dad's wardrobe at some stage in my teen years and finding a copy of The Pearl, vintage erotica at its best. But it wasn't until recently that I decided to start a little erotica collection of my own and from the back of one of those books I found Ellora's Cave, and from there all the other houses publishing erotic romance. So it just seemed logical to write what I liked to read (though I'm a big historical fan, but I don't think I have the patience for legwork for writing historicals).

Who would you say has influenced you the most?

This is tough. I can’t say any one person. I would like to say something all sentimental and sappy about my Great Aunt Betty being a driving influence but she’s not (she's still a lovely lady though!). Life is my biggest influence — there is so much living to be done by everyone, that there is a story waiting around every corner.

Among the authors that you read, who would you say influenced you the most? Why and how is this?

To tell you the truth, I don't look at any one writer and say "I want to do that". I can find a little something in many authors that I like – a turn of phrase, or the way they can put you in a scene. I love the way Clive Cussler gets you all hyped up in his Dirk Pitt series, but on the flipside I like Minda Webber's hilarious takes on the old horror standards and the sarcasm in chick lit (though some of the chicklit heroines need a good kick in the patootie!)

So I guess I can say I'm ecelctic when it comes to author influences. I can do funny, but I'm still working on the heart-revving action adventure side of things – one day I might be Clive Cussler good, you never know.

What are your main concerns as a writer?

That one day I will stop dreaming these amazing Technicolor movies in my head and whoosh, all my ideas go out the window.

How have your personal experiences influenced the direction of your writing?

Not the direction so much, but I do draw on my personal experiences to give body to my stories. I can describe how it feels during and after a major car accident because I have been there; divorce as a child or spouse — been there, done that; kids with problems, add that to the list, too!

I'd love to say that I've experienced all the erotic portions of my stories, but alas, I've yet to meet a hunky elf in the flesh. Instead I rely a lot on good old-fashioned fantasies. We've all got them, so why not use them!

What would you say are the biggest challenges that you face?

"Where are we going with this little story, Anne?" Yup, that's a question I ask myself daily. I have lots of great beginnings, but where are those beginnings going?

How do you deal with these challenges?

Gnaw on it a little. Yell at it. Rant and rave until an idea comes. Sometimes it comes in a rush, other are a struggle for each little piece.

My first book was written on the fly; I just sat and wrote. The sequel to that story was plotted out, chapter by chapter, as the books told me I was "supposed" to do. Yeah, well, that sucked, major rewrites needed. The next story I just sat and wrote again and my editor snapped it up before I had even finished it! So this idea of having an ending before I start I'm kind of in two minds about – while it's nice to know where I'm supposed to end up, not knowing how I'm getting there seems to work for me.

How many books have you written so far?

My first is a novella — The McCabes: Persuading Jo, published in July 2006 at Loose Id. Persuading Jo is about three friends as they make the step from a couple and one friend, to a trio pairing.

My second is also a novella, but much shorter than a first. My publisher calls it a Fling — Position Vacant, published December 2006 at Loose Id again. Position Vacant is my take on life up there in the North Pole. Nick Klauson (a.k.a. Santa) and his best friend, Simon Witte come up with a scheme only men could think would work. Beatrice Raymond throws them both for a loop by falling in love with the wrong man.

My third, Tea for Three, is in the editing stages. The release is planned for June 2007, again with Loose Id.

Tea for Three is my most recently contracted, though I am working on others. This one took me about two months in the end. I put it down half-way through to concentrate on edits for Position Vacant.

Which aspects of the work that you put into Tea for Three did you find most difficult? And which did you enjoy most?

This book was set back home in New Zealand, which was both good and bad. It made it easy to set my story as I knew the area so well, but it made me homesick at the same time! (I live in Florida at present.)

I'm also very aware that Tea for Three has a bisexual couple in a same-sex (male) relationship at its core. I firmly believe you are what you are – some people prefer men over women and vice versa, and others are equal opportunity lovers. You can find love in many places and I don't believe you should be persecuted for finding it within your own sex. With Tea for Three I didn't want to convey the message that as a man you need a woman to feel whole. I hope that I have successfully been able to show that the men in Tea for Three were able to expand on the love they already had by looking outside the box, not that they were 'converted' to another way of life.

What sets the book apart from the other things you have written?

Tea for Three is another ménage story, yes; however, it expands over time as the characters become friends, then lovers; whereas Persuading Jo was a small snapshot of time as the two men open Jo's eyes to the possibilities with what she already has. Being that the tale told is spread out and the actual manuscript is longer, I hope I have been able to dig in deeper and give a lot more depth to my characters; that readers can relate to them more. After all gay, straight or bi, we all age and question what we are doing with the time we have on this earth.

What will your next book be about?

The next two or three are in process already. The WIP link on my website lists lots of little ideas floating around there! Plus you can check out excerpts from all my published stories!

Do you write every day?

No, I would like to, but life has a pesky way of intruding. I do something relating to writing every day. Blogging, advertising, promotion work, and with luck, some actual manuscript work! I tend to end up with blocks of time spent on one thing or another — writing, sewing (my other sideline), or the dreaded housework.

What would you say has been your most significant achievement as a writer?

Actually sitting down and writing. Considering how one year ago I hadn't written a word of fiction, let alone erotic romance, I think I have come a long way, and learned rather a lot. There comes a point when you just have to stop saying "maybe one day" and grab the bull by the horns and do it!

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