Thursday, July 03, 2014

Indie Author Interview: Anna Markland


Indie Author Interview with Anna Markland - Author of the Medieval Romance Novel Conquering Passion.

Anna Markland has a keen interest in genealogy, a hobby that has had a tremendous influence on her stories. Her medieval romances are about family honor, ancestry, and roots. One of the things she enjoys most about writing historical romance is the in-depth research necessary to provide readers with an authentic medieval experience.

Interview with Anna Markland

Author Anna Markland
Author Anna Markland
Alan Kealey (Indie Author News): What is your (writing) background?
Anna Markland: I was fortunate to receive a grammar school education in England which provided me with a solid basis in the language and literature of my native tongue. My degree is in French literature. Reading and writing therefore have always been enjoyable.

Who are your favorite writers, your favorite books, and who or what are your writing influences?
I would have to say that at this stage of my life well-written medieval romances are my favorites, although I like a good Regency now and again. Canadian author, Virginia Henley was my first inspiration. I love her books. I also enjoy Catherine Kean, Kathryn Le Veque, Laurel O’Donnell, Vonda Sinclair, Loretta Chase and Jill Hughey.

When did you first know that you wanted to be a writer?
I am a genealogist and I’ve written several family histories for clients and relatives. For years I led seminars on Writing Your Own Life Story. However, I had this thought niggling at the back of my mind for many years that I could write a novel. But my career took up most of my time and commitment, and I never really gave much thought to becoming a professional writer. Once I retired from teaching, I decided to write a romance, essentially for my own satisfaction.

Do you remember the first story you ever wrote?
Yes. I was in Form 5 in primary school (9 years old) and some organisation held a writing contest. I came third with a mystery story set in a favorite haunt in the countryside a bunch of us used to bike to called the Jolly Browse.

Tell us about your writing process. Do you have a writing routine?
I write most days, usually for several hours. I can write at any time of the day.

Please, describe your desk/workplace. 
My husband and I travel around quite a bit, so I’m not always in the same place when I write. The essentials are: a comfortable chair, my Obusforme back support, a writing surface, my laptop tilted to the correct angle on its support, an internet connection, pertinent resource materials, and peace and quiet. Not essential but very conducive to writing are a great view, access to fresh air, and my Android phone so I can check new messages on FaceBook quickly. The writing surface shouldn’t be too big, otherwise I clutter it up.

"[...] the process of reworking the text to avoid those words is well worth the effort."

What do you find easiest about writing? What the hardest?

The writing is the easy part. Once I get going on a story it usually flows well. Editing is less of a chore now than it used to be. I don’t enjoy going through what I call My Stupid Word List. You know, the words you overuse: could, had, nodded, all, so... but the process of reworking the text to avoid those words is well worth the effort. It polishes a manuscript. That exercise is getting less time consuming as I catch myself about to use no-no words while writing the first draft.

What is the greatest joy of writing for you?
Receiving letters from readers who tell me how much they love my stories. Good reviews.

Anna, please tell us a little about your Medieval Romance Novel Conquering Passion.
As I mentioned, I wanted to write a romance. I chose a medieval setting because as an amateur genealogist born in England, I’ve long held a desire to trace my family back to the Norman Conquest. It’s an impossible dream since I am not descended from nobility. There were few records kept on common folk back then. So I made up a family—the Montbryces—and my books follow them and the offshoot families through several generations. While researching the part of England I hail from, I came across a true story about a young Norman noblewoman exiled with her psychotic father and forced to wander from castle to castle in Normandy. I got to wondering what life must have been like for a girl growing up in those circumstances, and that formed the basis of my plot for Conquering Passion.

Conquering Passion (Anna Markland)
Click to Read an Excerpt

To my amazement I had in fairly short order written over 200,000 words. But I realized the story was too long, had too many heroes and heroines and too much “you know what”. Did I mention it was a romance?
So I reworked it into four books. It was initially supposed to be three, but now I refer to it as the trilogy that became an obsession.
I sent off a few query letters then decided I was too old to wait around for someone in New York to decide medieval romances might be worth a shot. So I seized the bull by the horns and indie published Conquering Passion. I can’t tell you the elation I felt when I received my first review. 5 stars! In quick succession I published A Man of Value, If Love Dares Enough, and Passion in the Blood.

"[...] readers who want juicy sensuous stories but not erotica or kink."

Who do you see as your target audience and where can we buy the book?
I target my books to the medieval romance readers who want juicy sensuous stories but not erotica or kink. But I also wanted to attract historical buffs, so I made sure my research was thorough and filled my books with action and adventure (not hard to do when you’re writing about the Middle Ages).

What makes your book special?
I believe the fact that all four books of my first series were written at the same time contributed greatly to their success. They flow one into the other, and readers who like to follow characters in a series have embraced my families. Though Conquering Passion isn’t my latest book (I’m on number 19 at the moment) it’s the best one for readers to start with, then they get to know the background of the family from the beginning. Life in medieval times was often brutal and perilous. The hero of Conquering Passion lived in that world. He isn’t perfect. He makes mistakes which sometimes hurt those he loves. There are two love stories intertwined in the plot of CP, both of which have a profound impact on subsequent books.

How would you describe the success of your book so far?
I entered a number of contests before publishing this first book. I honed my craft, and improved my manuscript. I gave it to my 3 daughters to read and held my breath, fearing they might think their mother had lost her mind. Thumbs up all round. My husband thought highly of it. However, actually publishing took an enormous leap of faith, and I told myself that if I sold ten copies in a year, and people enjoyed it, I’d be happy.
Suffice it to say, Conquering Passion was the book that earned me membership in RWA’s Published Authors Network (first indie author in my chapter), and is still my bestselling book.

How long did it take it to write the book?
I began writing in April 2011, and had published CP by the end of November. The last book of the Montbryce Legacy series, Passion in the Blood, was published in February 2012.

"Get started. Write every day, even if it’s only a short scene."

Can you give some advice for other Authors regarding the writing process?
Get started. Write every day, even if it’s only a short scene. I have a little formula in an Excel spreadsheet that works out the date I should expect to finish the first draft. I simply type in my word count at the end of the day. It’s a motivational tool that helps me see progress. Don’t panic if the ideas dry up for a while. Sleep on it. Dreams help.

Are you working on another book project? Can you tell us a little about it?
I’m working on three manuscripts: The Rover Bold, about the 10th century Viking ancestors of my Montbryce family; its sequel, The Viking’s Concubine; and a novella for an anthology due out in the fall with other authors from the Love Historicals group. We are each contributing a novella using a secondary character from a previous book. I’ve chosen Ingram Maknab from Sweet Taste of Love, but I haven’t settled on a title yet.

Where do you see the book market in 5 or 10 years?
Will there be only eBooks and will book stores disappear like record stores disappeared? That is very hard to say. In the city where I live there are at least two large and successful locally owned independent bookstores. Both are apparently doing well, as are a handful of smaller ones, and Chapters downtown is always packed. A lot of people like to hold a “real” book when they read. Will they change? I did because as I got older and arthritis reared its ugly head a kindle was much easier to handle. Also it saves space when I travel, and I don’t have to worry about finding a bookstore.

What is your e-reading device of choice?
A short time ago I would have said my kindle, but I’ve recently started editing on my husband’s iPad, and I prefer it for ease of use and the bigger screen. I’d worn the letters off my kindle keyboard! However, the kindle is still best weight-wise. I have to sit the iPad on a stand.

Do you write full-time or do you have a day job? When you're not writing, how do you spend your time?
I write full time. When I’m not writing I catch up on my family tree research, or I assist my husband with his businesses. I also spend a fair amount of time marketing my books, which is an ongoing learning experience.

How can readers connect with you?
Amazon author page
My Website
Twitter @AnnaMarkland
Facebook Anna Markland Novels

Thank you very much for the Interview, Anna.



About the Book Conquering Passion

Conquering Passion (Anna Markland)
Click to Read an Excerpt
The year is 1066. The world is about to change forever.

Can love survive and flourish amid the carnage, hatred, betrayals and dangers of the Norman Conquest?

Juicy historical fiction. An intimate story of passion,ambition, conspiracy, and vengeance.

Lovers of medieval romance and English history during the time of King William the Conqueror will savor Conquering Passion. If you enjoy the historical richness of Ken Follett, you'll love Anna Markland's books. Follett with a woman's touch.

- "[...] a sweeping Norman epic. Markland has done her research and it shows. The author uses a good economy of words to paint vivid descriptions of the time. The plot moves at a nice pace, never lingering. The characters are interesting and likable. The supporting cast of characters helps to round out the story and give the novel its epic effect." - Reader Review



Links to the Book

Link to the Paperback Conquering Passion with Excerpt on Amazon

Link to the eBook Conquering Passion with Excerpt on Amazon