I have been blessed with a number of careers: public school and
university teacher (three degrees in history); writer of history
(the kind bristling with footnotes); sales, marketing and PR
person writing everything from ads to annual reports; consultant
and computer manual writer; and now romance author. A native
Texan, I spent most of my life on the Gulf Coast until my
husband’s and my business took us first to Minneapolis and then
to the Chicago area. It didn’t take me long to learn how to
survive in The Frozen North—just wear my entire wardrobe at one
time. All of this, some travels here and abroad, and my
computer-and-accounting savvy husband have given me inspiration
and details for my stories.
In Chicagoland, I finally had the time to do what I have always
wanted to: write fiction. I write both contemporary and
contemporary paranormal romance stories. I hope my readers
enjoy my magic practitioners. We all need a little magic in our
An Interview with
PNR: Can you
tell us a little about how you started writing; was it
something you have always wanted to do?
Ann M.: I’ve read
books all my life and always had writing one in the back of
my mind. But I had to earn a living first. When we moved to
the Chicago area in 1998, I couldn’t find work writing
computer manuals. There I was after unpacking, sitting
around with nothing to do, knowing hardly a soul in the
area, and getting slightly depressed. I had not read much
romance—basically I was a mystery and sci-fi/fantasy reader.
I picked up a Jayne Ann Krentz, and it was so much FUN. So,
I picked up another. Before long, I was haunting the romance
stacks in my library. Then I found a used book store that
specialized in romance. I read romance the whole first
winter we were here.
At some point, the light dawned. Here was my chance to try
writing fiction—romance in particular. So I sat down and
wrote “One.” I didn’t title my stories, but numbered them. I
knew I had to teach myself how to write dialogue and love
scenes. Writing history had taught me about a lot about
telling a story, juggling plot elements, and in the case of
battles, writing action and simultaneous happenings. “One”
was absolutely horrible, but I expected it to be. I did get
to the end of it. I started on “Two” immediately.
I took a class at the local community college in “genre
writing.” That showed me that I could hold an audience. Then
I found RWA and kept writing. My first book to be published,
THE OLDEST KIND OF MAGIC (Medallion, 2005) was “Five.”
PNR: Are you
able to write as much as you would like? Could you tell us
about your writing schedule? What do you enjoy doing when
Ann M.: Despite
the fact that life does intervene and take me away from
writing, I basically write full time. I am a person of
schedule—probably from all the school teaching and meeting
deadlines I had to do in my other work. I’m best in the
morning and early afternoon. If it’s not going well, then I
break off around one, but if it’s really coming, then I
write until it’s time to fix dinner. I don’t often write at
night, but read and watch TV. Or play computer games—I’m a
big fan of the role-playing kind with swords and sorcery.
When I’m not actually sitting at the computer, I’m usually
thinking about my story. When I’m trying to fall asleep at
night, I write and rewrite scenes in my head. Be careful if
you try this. Sometimes I get so caught up in my own story
that I don’t go to sleep for a long time.
When not writing, I’m active in a couple of organizations. I
love traveling, and, thanks to my husband’s job, have been
able to accompany him to Britain, China, and Singapore. My
best vacation is lying on a beach in the Caribbean.
PNR: Who or
what has been your biggest influence as a writer? Who has
been your biggest support?
Ann M.: My
biggest support has been my husband. He hands out bookmarks
wherever he goes—I now have a reader or two in Singapore and
England—and he even wears a T-shirt that says, “Make me a
kept man. Buy my wife’s book.” Since he reads sci-fi and
fantasy, I often work out the magic with him. He also
volunteers to help with “research.”
As for my influence? I don’t think I can name just one
person. As for “what” as an influence, I’d have to say
becoming an historian and learning to write history. My
writing career started there.
PNR: What are
the greatest challenges to you as an author?
Ann M.: The
greatest challenges are coaxing my muse to cooperate and
dealing with the entire publishing process. I’ve also not
been able to find an agent willing to take me on.
On the muse side, I’m basically a pantser, not a plotter, so
sometimes I get stuck about what to do next. Usually, after
the story percolates in my head for a while, it all comes
together. But it can get scary when facing a deadline and
the words or ideas aren’t coming.
PNR: What do
you feel are the essential elements of a great story?
Ann M.: I want
smart heroes and heroines I can care about. I want sensual
tension and emotional, sexy love scenes. I like some humor,
but only if it arises from the story. I read almost all
are excited about the October 2007 release of DO YOU BELIEVE
IN MAGIC? from Medallion Press; this is the second in your
Magic series. Could you tell us what inspired this fantasy
series and a little about your vision for the project? What
direction will the series be taking?
Ann M.: My whole
magic world started with a few “what if” statements. What if
you had people in the world who could use magic to do their
everyday jobs? What if one of them couldn’t cast a spell on
any person or any object except herself? What if there was
an ancient force that brought these people together as soul
mates, whether they were ready or not?
I called my people who could do magic by the term
“practitioner,” because they must practice their magic. It
doesn’t just come to them. And their powers are limited.
I thought I could then follow the various combinations of
soul mates through a series. In the first one, she is a
“magic practitioner,” and he isn’t. In the second, it’s the
reverse. In the third, they both are but are on totally
opposite sides of magic spell casting. Those three stories
involve one family of practitioners in Texas.
With the next three, we move to the Chicago area. And we
meet the Swords and Defenders who destroy evil magic items.
The Swords also can throw fireballs and lightning bolts. The
fourth involves a female practitioner and a man who doesn’t
know he has magic abilities—a “wild talent” in practitioner
jargon. The fifth has both hero and heroine who have lost
their soul mates—but can they have another? The sixth—ah,
the sixth. That’s the one where we save the world!
are captivated by the fantasy world you have created. Tell
us about the challenges you face in world building and
making it work with the ideas you have in mind for the
progression of your characters and the series? Do you write
your characters to fit the world you have created or vice
Ann M.: My world
grew from the first book and continues to grow. It started
getting complicated with the very first book—so complicated
that I started writing everything down. Anybody interested
can go to my website and under articles find “A Theory Of
Magic.” This is a work in progress and I’m continually
adding to it.
There are enough rules to my world now that it’s impossible
to have a character act against them without doing harm to
the world or to the logic behind it. Let me point out, my
magic is limited by a number of factors. Practitioners are
not gods. Their magic energy is finite.
At the same time, the rules make some things easier. When
I’m trying to figure out how a character should act in a
magic situation, it’s pretty easy to follow the rules
logically. Or one idea leads to another, and their talents
and abilities grow “naturally” from what went before.
I might note that my system and world have developed over a
number of years. They didn’t have to be fully developed in
the first book. Thank goodness. The magic has gotten more
complicated, but the story still revolves around getting the
soul mates together and the evolution of the magic, not the
mystery or suspense or whatever else might be going on.
In WILD MAGIC, the fourth book, I had to figure out how my
practitioners actually cast spells so they could teach the
hero. That was fun. If anybody tries the method and makes it
work, tell me!
On the question of writing characters to fit the world or
vice versa, I don’t think I approached it that way. I start
with the character in the world, with certain
talents/abilities/powers, but most importantly certain
personal goals, motives, and conflicts and go from there.
PNR: Do you
feel your writing is character driven or plot driven? How do
you balance these two elements?
Ann M.: I think
I’m basically character driven. I start with people and put
them in a situation. I usually have an idea of the overall
story arc and character arcs, the beginning and the end. The
middle can be a big mystery until I actually get into it.
Interestingly enough, in the third book, where I had much
more structure to the plot, I had the most trouble actually
writing it. I still don’t know why.
I pay close attention to the plot/character balance. Or lack
thereof at times. I try very hard to keep both moving at the
same pace. I hope I’m successful, but I know some readers
must want me to get on with whatever side they like.
PNR: Could you
tell us a little about how you develop your characters? Who
has been your favorite character to write? The most
Ann M.: Sometimes
my characters just come to me whole. Others require more
construction. Either way, to concentrate my thoughts and
ideas, I start off with some charts from Emily McKay and
Robyn Ratliff. They gave a workshop at an RWA National that
work for me. They concentrate especially on the GMC and make
me think. I’ve used Tami Cowden’s archetypes and usually end
up combining types. I’ve adapted the character charts from
some other authors as well, but I don’t fill out pages. Then
I get to know the characters as I write them.
My favorite? Oh, dear. It is like children, as so many
authors have said. I had great fun with the major characters
in YOUR MAGIC OR MINE?, the third in the Magic Series, and
in WINDSWEPT, a contemporary (no magic) story with a
The most challenging are always the men, especially Marcus
in YOUR MAGIC OR MINE?
Villains have been a great deal of fun, but you really have
to watch out. They’ll take over the book if you let them.
PNR: How would
you describe the sensuality level of your books; do you find
it challenging to write love/sex scenes?
Ann M.: I write
extremely warm, and some have called the scenes hot. This is
so much an individual preference that I don’t try to
describe them beyond that. But I doubt any of my scenes
would fit the “erotic romance” label.
I’m not very explicit about body parts, since love making is
all about the emotions to me, not the mechanics.
The love scenes in the Magic Series can really be a
challenge, in that the bonding that must take place between
soul mates has to be spectacular. And just a little bit
different each time. I’m beginning to worry that I’m running
out of magic effects.
PNR: Tales of
djinn, sorcerers and other wielders of magic have been with
us since the oral tradition of storytelling. Why do you feel
that magic is such a popular theme in storytelling? In the
paranormal romance genre?
Ann M.: I think
we all wish we could cast a spell to do something or other.
Also, good and evil seem to be magnified when magic is
involved. An author can investigate a theme or a concept or
human nature in ways impossible with plain, ordinary humans.
PNR: What is
it about the paranormal romance genre that captures your
imagination? Is there a genre you haven’t written but would
like to try?
Ann M.: I have
always liked sci-fi/fantasy and paranormal stories, even
before I started reading romance. The different worlds, the
clash of cultures, the chance to do things in a story that
are impossible in the real world. One of my absolute
favorite authors is Lois McMaster Bujold.
I’m thinking about writing something futuristic next. I know
I will probably never write vampires or shapeshifters. I
like to read their stories, but writing them doesn’t appeal
somehow. I have a couple of contemporary romance stories in
the back of my mind too.
I read lots of historicals, but won’t write them either.
One of the best things about paranormal is: My world, my
rules. I can make anything I want to happen in my world. I
don’t have to fit into someone else’s vision of the world.
Congratulations on your February 2008 release of WINDSWEPT
from Medallion Press. The story sounds intriguingly gothic;
could you tell us about it? A sneak peek perhaps?
Ann M.: Thank
you. I’m very pleased with this book.
Warning: a blurb was published on several sites that does
not reflect the reality of the book. The blurb said
something about a decaying plantation house and magic, none
of which even exist in the book. And most of the story takes
place in an ultra-contemporary home in Houston.
The gist of the story is as follows. Barrett, a young
history professor, makes a deal with Davis, the owner of the
records of the Windswept Plantation, to inventory the
records and use what she finds in them to publish research
papers and books. A crazy cousin of Davis claims the papers
contain a “terrible secret” that will ruin the family name,
and he tries to get or destroy the papers.
Interspersed in the contemporary romance story are entries
from the journal of the antebellum mistress of the Louisiana
plantation. Mary Maude starts out as a blushing bride of
eighteen years. As the romance between Barrett and Davis
gets better and better, Mary Maude’s situation gets more and
more serious. The reader finds out what the terrible secret
is at the same time as Barrett.
Then Davis must decide if he will let the secret come to
life or lose Barrett trying to keep it secret.
This book is proof that my degrees in Southern history were
not taken in vain.
I’d like to mention the wonderful job Medallion has done
with the covers for my books. Each one seems to get better
and better, more and more gorgeous. The cover on WINDSWEPT
takes after the journal. On the Magic Series, they’ve worked
off a heart image that also relates to the different magic
in each book. The artist for all of them, Jim Tampa, is
PNR: Could you
tell us about your current projects, what can readers expect
to see in the coming months?
Ann M.: YOUR
MAGIC OR MINE? comes out in October of this year. WILD MAGIC
is set for October 2009.
I’m working at the moment on “Magic5,” but I don’t have a
title for it yet. I’ll be submitting it to Medallion soon
and hope for a 2010 release. Then, on to “Magic6,” which
features three tremendously powerful magic items, the
Pinnacle of Heaven, the Depths of Hell, and the Veil of
After that? I have some ideas percolating in my brain. We’ll
see which one starts beating on the back of my forehead to
you, Ann, for taking time out to talk to us. Where can
readers find out what’s new and how can they contact you?
Ann M.: The best
place is my website, http://www.annmacela.com.
You can always reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I really do want
to hear from my readers—about both the good and the bad.
Thanks, PNR, for the opportunity to discuss my plans and
October 28, 2007
Magic: Book 2
Do You Believe In Magic?
According to lore,
an ancient force called the soulmate imperative brings together
magic practitioners and their mates. They always nearly fall
into each other’s arms at first sight. Always…or so the story
But what happens if
they don’t? What happens when one mate rejects the other—in fact
won’t have anything to do with him? Who doesn’t even believe in
magic to begin with?
Computer wizard Clay
Morgan is in just such a position. Francie Stevens has been
badly hurt by a charming and good looking man and has decided to
avoid any further involvements. Although the hacker plaguing her
company’s system forces her into an investigation led by the
handsome practitioner, she vows to keep her distance from Clay.
The imperative has
other ideas, however, and so does Clay. He must convince Francie
that magic exists and he can wield it. It’s a prickly problem.
Especially when Francie uses the imperative itself against him
in ways neither it, nor Clay, ever anticipated.
October 1, 2005
Magic: Book 1
Daria Morgan is
a magic practitioner who uses magic and spells to do her
everyday job as a management consultant. John "Bent"
Benthausen is a CEO who,
despite improvements in production, can't make a profit. He
needs her help. With her special gifts, Daria gets right to
the heart of Bent's problem—crooked employees. Crooked,
vicious, employees who are now out to get Daria. Those are
just Problems One and Two. Problem Three: An ancient force,
an irresistible compulsion, called the soulmate imperative
brings together magic-users and their mates in a lifelong
bond. And it won't be happy until they surrender to the
inevitable . . the Oldest Kind of Magic . . .
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