"New Worlds Are Our Oyster."
April 2000 Issue
Virtually Cover to Cover!
When not writing stories set in medieval times or in virtual-reality worlds, Ann teaches full-time.
Editor's Note: For those readers who may be wondering what the connection is between romance covers and featured author Ann Lawrence -- Well gentle reader, that's for you to discover. I suggest you start with a copy of VIRTUAL HEAVEN . (Hint: It's not the book cover, wonderful as it is - you have to read the book! *grin*).
PNR: Ann, your debut novel VIRTUAL HEAVEN won a P.E.A.R.L award for Best Fantasy of '99. Were you excited to learn that?
Ann L: I was not only excited; I was also tickled! This is my first award and I love it! It is especially important to me because it is chosen by readers.
PNR: What made you decide to create a fantasy time travel about a video world?
Ann L: I watched my daughter play a game once that gave me the idea. She went into a game booth and I watched her on a screen. It looked like she was underwater and trying to catch these gold coins. Sharks were swimming by and she was dodging them. I was getting into it (screaming, to my embarrassment) and then I thought, "What if she was sucked into the game?" Well, that was the germ of the idea. Of course, when thinking about the kind of game I'd want to be pulled into; it had to have something to do with warriors and legends, quests and so forth!
PNR: I understand that you have also written a novella for the Paradise anthology. Can you tell us a bit about that? It's set in PA, my home state and yours as well, I believe. Is that correct? (Our editor Leslie is also a PA native; Sara our marketing and publicity director was reared in PA Amish country, small world, eh?)
Ann L: Yes, PA is my home. Although I was born in England, I was raised in the Philadelphia area. As for PARADISE, my editor called me and asked if I'd like to be in an anthology. Well, Virtual Heaven wasn't even out yet, so of course I said Yes! Then she said the story had to have Elvis in it. Well, I felt like my English teacher had given me an assignment! My mind went blank (I always hated writing in school for that reason-give me a theme and my mind is just empty of ideas. Give me a blank page and I'm fine!)
So... I did some research on Elvis and watched his movies, listened to his music and so forth. When I heard of the movie, "Wild in the Country" I thought of the Amish country. Then I learned Tuesday Weld was the star opposite Elvis and there was my heroine's name! As for the rest of the story...don't ask me how bowling and baseball got in there, because I have no idea. But the country merely reminded me of how close I am to the "country" myself and the story just evolved. I really had fun with it! And Jack Ryan, a reluctant hero, is one of my favorite characters! (Note: This is a contemporary novella with paranormal elements).
PNR: You have a medieval romance, LORD OF THE KEEP, on the shelves at the moment. You also make mirrored references to character and places of Arthurian legend in Virtual Heaven. Is this a period in time that you are particularly fond of? Is it an interest you've had since childhood or did you become interested in the medieval era as an adult?
Ann L: I have always loved the Arthurian Legends. So it was very natural for me to use them in my writing. As for the medieval period, I was born in England and when I visit, castles are my favorite places to go. So that really sets my stories. I have many ruined castles I've visited in my mind when I'm writing. I can just picture myself there; see the knights and so forth. All the places I use are real. I may alter them to suit my imagination or the "reality" of the moment, but they are my favorite places.
PNR: Those "mirrored" references were one of the things that readers felt made Virtual Heaven memorable. There was an element of surprise in the discovery. Virtual Desire, the sequel to Virtual Heaven will be hitting the shelves around August. Will the references continue and will there be an explanation for their use?
Ann L: There will be a continuation with a little twist to keep you guessing. I'm still using some of the more obscure Arthurian legends woven in as well. I do some explanation, but not enough to bore anyone I hope! (grin)
PNR: The hero and heroine of VIRTUAL DESIRE were side characters in VIRTUAL HEAVEN. They appeared as the best friends of the main characters of that book, correct? In Virtual Heaven the heroine was propelled through the game to a very real world. Will that occur again, or will the hero journey to our world this time? If the heroine goes there, will slavery be a big issue as it was in Virtual Heaven, or will there be other problems this time?
Ann L: Yes, Vad and Gwen are the secondary "friends" of the hero and heroine of VIRTUAL HEAVEN. Vad, the hero of VIRTUAL DESIRE will come to Ocean City, New Jersey. He will not be there long, and that's all I'm saying about that! As to problems...they abound, but slavery will always be a feature because the Tolemac society is a class society and the slaves are one class. However, that said, VIRTUAL DESIRE takes place near the ice fields in Selaw, not in Tolemac. The Selaw's treatment of slaves is a little different than Tolemac's.
PNR: What is next for Ann Lawrence? Can we expect another paranormal romance novel, perhaps even another sequel to Virtual Heaven? Do plan to write more straight historicals or do you have something different in mind?
Ann L: Right now my editor and I are discussing what my next book will be. I have a contract to do a fourth "Perfect Hero" book. Whether it will be medieval or a virtual reality book is still under discussion. I'd love to do both! I enjoy writing in different genres and have done some mystery short stories, too. My daughter keeps bugging me to finish a young adult romance I started, and if I'm going to, I'd better get going or she'll be too old to appreciate it.
PNR: I noticed that John DeSalvo modeled for the covers of Virtual Heaven and Lord of the Keep. I have heard that he will also be featured on the cover of Virtual Desire, as a blond?
Ann L: Yes! I have a John DeSalvo "hat trick" on my covers. Vad in VIRTUAL DESIRE is a blond, so yes, John is blond on the cover. I think the cover's pretty spectacular. Readers can check it out on my website: www.annlawrence.com. You can't really appreciate how fine the artwork is on the web, but the actual work is wonderful. There's a small clip on the main page and a larger one on the excerpt page.
taking a readers poll, just for fun, John D. appears on all your covers
with his former longhaired look, he's now sporting shorthair, which
look do you prefer, or perhaps the blond look
Ann L: I have to say, I don't have a preference. I like the cover model to look appropriate to the story. I'd be very upset if my VIRTUAL DESIRE cover had a model with dark hair. Or, worse, if he was not handsome--Vad's conflict in Virtual Desire, to some extent, revolves around the fact that he's just too darned good-looking.
That said, my hero in LORD OF THE KEEP is not supposed to be handsome and John DeSalvo is the model for that cover (too)! Of course, no one has sent me a complaint about that yet! Beyond the big "stuff" though, I'm happy as long as the model looks like he fits the time period. I think John is a handsome man who looks good no matter how he styles his hair. (wink) I will assume his hair will be computer "enhanced" for all his historical covers from now on! And I know they can do whatever they please with those computers!
Thank you for this opportunity to come before the readers. Everyone has been so supportive. I'm always amazed at how many people are willing to give a new writer a chance. I have enjoyed the questions and hope to be asked again someday!
His silver blond hair blew back from his magnificent face. His black leather breeches hugged every inch of his well-muscled thights. He was every woman's fantasy; he wa the virtual reality game hero Vad. And Gwen Marlowe found him snoring away in her video game shop.
knew he must be a wacky wargamer out to win the Tolemac warrior look-alike
contest. But the passion he ignited in her was all too real. Swept
into his world of ice fields and formidable fortresses, Gwen realized
Vad was not playing games. One a quest to clear his name and secure
peace in his land, he and Gwen must forge a bond strong enough to
straddle two worlds. A union built not on virtual desire, but on true
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