Anna Campbell, author of My Reckless Surrender, answers Ten Terrifying Questions

by |January 19, 2011

The Booktopia Book Guru asks

Anna Campbell

author of My Reckless Surrender, Captive of Sin, Claiming the Courtesan and more…

Ten Terrifying Questions


1. To begin with why don’t you tell us a little bit about yourself – where were you born? Raised? Schooled?

Hey, that’s not so scary! I think I’m tough enough to cope with question 1 at least! I was born in Brisbane, raised in Redland Bay on Moreton Bay where my parents had an avocado farm and went to high school as a boarder in Ipswich. All very Queensland.

2. What did you want to be when you were twelve, eighteen and thirty? And why?

Actually these still aren’t scary. Bring out your big guns! I’m tough I can take it. Well, I think so! When I was twelve, I was desperate to learn ballet but there wasn’t a school handy so my dreams of being a ballerina came to nothing. When I was eighteen, I’d pretty much settled on becoming a published writer one day. Same for thirty. I always loved books – I’m a compulsive reader. If all else fails, I’ll read the back of the milk carton. Which is full of surprisingly interesting facts!

3. What strongly held belief did you have at eighteen that you do not have now?

Ooh, now, these are getting scarier! I had a strongly held belief that I’d see pretty much the whole world but I’ve realised only just recently that there are places I’m never going to make. Especially as when I travel, I seem to keep going back to my favourites!

4. What were three works of art – book or painting or piece of music, etc – you can now say, had a great effect on you and influenced your own development as a writer?

Oh, too many to mention. I’ll pick three books just because they’re easiest. Dorothy Dunnett’s Lymond Chronicles affected me enormously – the brilliance of the writing, the vivid historical recreations, the complexity of the characters. But I think most of all, the fact that she took such enormous risks. She wasn’t a wimp when it came to the big moments – people died, did bad things or had horrible experiences. Nobody was safe and there were consequences to every action. She never took the easy path and she lured me to be more daring in my own work.

Reading Georgette Heyer as a teenager and again as an adult developed my interest in the Regency and sharpened my ear for upper-class English voices.

My first Laura Kinsale absolutely blew me away – again, like the Dunnetts , she showed me how to be daring and dangerous within the bounds of an emotionally satisfying romance with a sigh-worthy happy ending. And she puts her heroes through even worse torture than I put mine through!

5. Considering the innumerable artistic avenues open to you, why did you choose to write a novel?

Oh, I love the ‘innumerable artistic avenues’ line. I wish! Actually I love stories and I love romance and I’m a bit of a control freak so that counted out something like film or playwriting. So I guess novel writing was just the thing for me.

6. Please tell us about your latest novel…

My Reckless Surrender is the story of a dangerous seduction in Regency London. In return for the fulfilment of her every ambition, Diana Carrick makes a devil’s bargain to seduce the Earl of Ashcroft. But as she and the notorious rake forge a deep emotional connection through a sultry summer, Diana becomes increasingly enmeshed in a web of secrets and lies. I describe the book as a ‘ticking bomb’ story. The reader knows much more than either of the protagonists and just waits for the chickens to come home to roost. As they inevitably do once Diana’s plot starts to unravel.

7. What do you hope people take away with them after reading your work?

I hope people close an Anna Campbell with a big sigh of emotional satisfaction.

8. Whom do you most admire in the realm of writing and why?

A couple of people who immediately spring to mind are American historical romance authors Loretta Chase, Susan Elizabeth Phillips and Madeline Hunter. In classic fiction, I admire Tolstoy for the sweep of his stories and the depth of his understanding of human character. I admire Charlotte Bronte for breaking through so many Victorian strictures to write the passionate romance Jane Eyre.

9. Many artists set themselves very ambitious goals. What are yours?

I’d love to keep writing the stories I want to tell and to share those stories with enthusiastic readers all over the world. No other plans for world conquest at the moment!

10. What advice do you give aspiring writers?

Stick to your guns and write a complete manuscript. Personal experience indicates you’ll hear a siren voice whispering to you about 100 pages in, insisting that what you’re writing is terrible and you should try this new wonderful idea. That siren voice is actually your fear speaking. Don’t listen to it. Personal experience also indicates that 100 pages into that wonderful new idea, the siren voice will start whispering exactly the same poison. You’ll learn things from plugging through to the end of a manuscript that nothing else will teach you.

And once you’ve finished the manuscript, put it under the bed and write something else. Once you have, go back to the first manuscript and only then start editing. You’ll be surprised how many mistakes you can see once you’ve got a bit of distance. Not only that, you’ll have learnt skills writing the next book that you can use to improve the first book. Good luck!

Anna, thank you for playing.

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About the Contributor

While still in his twenties, John Purcell opened a second-hand bookshop in Mosman, Sydney, in which he sat for ten years reading, ranting and writing. Since then he has written, under a pseudonym, a series of very successful novels, interviewed hundreds of writers about their work, appeared at writers’ festivals, on TV (most bizarrely in comedian Luke McGregor’s documentary Luke Warm Sex) and has been featured in prominent newspapers and magazines. ​Now, as the Director of Books at, Australia’s largest online bookseller, he supports Australian writing in all its forms. He lives in Sydney with his wife, two children, three dogs, five cats, unnumbered gold fish and his overlarge book collection. His novel, The Girl on the Page, will be published by HarperCollins Australia in October, 2018.

Follow John: Twitter Website


  • January 19, 2011 at 9:00 pm

    Loved your replies Anna, you are brave.
    I have read all your books and loved them. Also enjoyed meeting you at the conferences.

    Best wishes


    • January 20, 2011 at 9:22 am

      Margaret, how lovely to see you here! I still remember how thrilled I was to see you in Adelaide for the Roadshow when you came all the way from Melbourne. Thanks for saying such lovely things about the books!

  • January 20, 2011 at 6:28 am

    Hi, Anna and Booktopia!

    What interesting questions – and equally interesting answers! Count me as a reader who loves the emotional journey of an Anna Campbell book.

    Anna, that siren is wreaking havoc for me right now. I really need to plug my ears and keep going on my current book. I can’t palm the writing off to someone else!

    • January 20, 2011 at 9:23 am

      Vanessa, that siren really does sing sweetly, doesn’t she? Naughty little minx she is! Good luck with the rest of the book – as you say, unless you do it, nobody will! And thanks for saying you love the books!

  • January 20, 2011 at 6:37 am

    Hi Anna!

    Loved the video. Always great to hear your lovely voice.

    • January 20, 2011 at 9:23 am

      Thanks so much, Donna. Don’t you love the way Amanda’s budgie decides he has something important to say halfway through?

  • January 20, 2011 at 6:51 am

    Anna, wonderful interview. And I totally agree with your advice to aspiring writers. I don’t know why that siren starts calling when we’re in the middle of books, but she’s darned annoying. 🙂

    • January 20, 2011 at 9:25 am

      I really think it’s a fear thing, Trish – I’ve put a lot of thought into this as you should see how many 100 page stumps are under my bed! I think once you hit 100 pages, the initial euphoria of the idea has worn off and you start to realize that this is going to be lots of long, hard work. And then, shock, horror, you might have to actually show that book to someone! The siren just thinks it would be easier if you gave up and just had the euphoria of starting another book again.

  • January 20, 2011 at 7:15 am

    I absolutely loved your interview! Amazing video btw. I love the covers of your books and love to read your novels as well. I cannot wait to read Captive of Sin!

    • January 20, 2011 at 9:26 am

      Hey, thanks, Danielle! Lovely to see you here. Aren’t those covers beautiful? Both the Australian and American one for Midnight’s Wild Passion, my May release, are gorgeous too! I’ve been really lucky!

  • January 20, 2011 at 7:42 am

    Hi Anna,

    Thanks for playing the 10 questions game – it’s good to find out a little more about you. Isn’t it fascinating how certain books we’ve read can influence us so significantly? I’m intrigued by the number of romance readers and writers who had a taste of Georgette Heyer early on and keep coming back.

    Congratulations on the release of ‘My Reckless Surrender’ – a romance for grown ups. It was another terrific, emotional read and I’m already looking forward to your next release.

    • January 20, 2011 at 9:28 am

      Annie, thanks for checking out the interview. While the questions were less terrifying than expected, LOL, they brought up some unusual stuff in the answers. Georgette Heyer is responsible for a lot of people writing, I think. I just read her Venetia and adored it. Gradually making my way through them all again. I’m surprised how many details I’ve forgotten over the years! And thanks for saying such lovely things about Reckless – I love the ‘a romance for grown ups’ tag!!!!

  • January 20, 2011 at 7:43 am

    Anna, you are one of the boldest authors in romance today, taking on situations and characters no one else could make work. And you’re nice as pie, too. Can’t wait for your next book!

    • January 20, 2011 at 9:34 am

      Oh, my goodness! It’s world-famous, uber-talented and ultra-nice Kristan Higgins! Thank you for saying such lovely things. I adore your work as well – I love that perfect balance you strike between deep emotion and sparkling comedy!

  • January 20, 2011 at 7:45 am

    Great interview, Anna. I never tire of hearing about your life and listening to your lovely accent!

    Although I don’t need to have a happy ending (depends on the genre), I do love my protagonists to be put through their paces, royally torture. It makes the ending so much more satisfying

    Best advice to a new writer! Just finish the first book. It’s surprising how much more easily the second one will come.

    • January 20, 2011 at 9:38 am

      Jo, thanks for swinging by. I’m so glad you enjoyed the interview! And that’s great advice for writers about finishing the book. I think it’s even harder now than when I set out because there’s so much more distraction with social media and other things like that that can make you FEEL like you’re helping your writing whereas what you need to do is just sit down and write (advice I need to remember for myself!).

  • Morton Gray

    January 20, 2011 at 7:47 am

    I only discovered you today. Thank you for the advice in question 10 and yes I have heard that voice of doubt. Mx

    • January 20, 2011 at 9:39 am

      Wow, Morton, fresh blood…uh, reader! Don’t want to scare you away too quickly, LOL!

      Thanks so much for joining the fan page on Facebook too!

  • January 20, 2011 at 7:48 am

    Wow, Anna, I’m impressed.

    About the only use I’ve had for Russian novel is as door stops! I’m afraid I’m into quicker and more straightforward stories. 😉


    • January 20, 2011 at 9:42 am

      Aunty Cindy, thanks so much for swinging by! Ha ha to the Russian novel comment. I must admit it’s a while since I’ve tackled such a beast but War and Peace is really readable – honest!!! In fact, it’s a Regency romance in a lot of ways!

  • Nancy Northcott

    January 20, 2011 at 8:07 am

    Anna, great interview and video! You know I also love the Lymond Chronicles.

    My Reckless Surrender is a fabulous book. Tarquin and Diana are a wonderful pair, and I was particularly impressed with the growth arc you gave her.

    • January 20, 2011 at 9:44 am

      Nancy, the Lymond Chronicles are in a class of their own, aren’t they? And Francis Crawford has to be the most delicious tortured hero in the universe! And there’s a couple of wonderful romances in the books too – who could ask for anything more? Thanks so much for saying you loved My Reckless Surrender. I love that Diana was a better and wiser person than she was at the start by the time the book finished. That’s something I always like to see in a story!

  • January 20, 2011 at 8:17 am

    Hi Anna, what a fascinating interview. You say you admire authors who are brave and don’t take the easy path in their writing. That’s one of the (many!) things I admire in you as a writer. You are not afraid to take risks with your characters and it pays off in books that are un-put-downable. I can’t wait for the next one!

    • January 20, 2011 at 9:48 am

      Hey, thanks, Kandy! That’s a lovely compliment! I’m currently wrestling with a couple who are having a very tough time – and consequently they’re giving me a very tough time, the rotters! Lovely to see you here!

  • January 20, 2011 at 9:03 am

    What a great interview! Love the questions and, Anna, your advice for aspiring authors is brilliant *g* There’s just something so enticing about The Next Book!

    • January 20, 2011 at 9:49 am

      Beth, I think what’s enticing about the next book is that because you haven’t started it, it promises to be brilliant, easy and exciting from page one to page 400 in the writing process. That next book is LYING. Well, at least in my case. I know how brilliant your stories are so you might have a different experience, LOL!

  • January 20, 2011 at 9:40 am

    Actually it’s a BIG day on my fan page. I just cracked 1,000 members and I’m giving away two books till about 4pm EST Australian today. You just need to tell me on the fan page which book you’d like:

  • January 20, 2011 at 11:49 am

    What great questions!

    Congrats on the 1,000 fan mark! Anxiously awaiting your next book.


    • January 20, 2011 at 12:17 pm

      Hey, thanks, Jennifer! Lovely to see you here. I thought the questions were great too! Next book is only a couple of months away – not long at all!

  • January 20, 2011 at 2:15 pm

    Hi Anna,

    What a fabulous interview. I learn new things about you every time I read one 🙂 I admire all of your travels and love your advice to writers.

    • January 20, 2011 at 4:26 pm

      Hey, thanks, Tawny! I’m a bit of a travel hound as you’ve probaly gathered!

  • January 20, 2011 at 2:38 pm

    I always close an Anna Campbell with a happy sigh. Then I gnash my teeth because I have to wait for the next one & I’m impatient like that. 🙂

    Thanks for playing today, Anna!

  • January 20, 2011 at 3:53 pm

    Anna, great answers to the Ten Terrifying Questions! I just love the background behind My Reckless Surrender – most especially your private tour of that stately home and your thoughts about the retainer’s feelings for the place. Fascinating! And Tarquin and Diana’s story is such a compelling read!.

    Having heard the alluring siren call of the “next big idea” myself, I heartily second your advice about finishing the manuscript! It’s a big hurdle!

    • January 20, 2011 at 4:28 pm

      Sharon, it’s funny – that siren call about 100 pages in seems to be more universal than I ever realised! So glad you enjoyed hearing some of the background to MRS. By the way, I slipped up and said CHATSWOOD instead of CHATSWORTH in the video. You can take the girl out of Sydney, but… And thanks for saying such nice things about MY RECKLESS SURRENDER!

  • January 20, 2011 at 4:27 pm

    Susan, after reading MONEY, HONEY, I had the same reaction! Thanks for swinging by and saying such lovely things about the books!

  • Nas

    January 20, 2011 at 6:33 pm

    Hi Anna,

    I loved the interview. It was great learning something new about you. But your advice to aspiring writers is so spot on.

    • January 21, 2011 at 8:11 am

      Thanks for swinging by, Nas! I’m so glad the writing advice struck a chord with you!

  • January 20, 2011 at 10:42 pm

    Great interview! And, as always, fab answers Anna.

    I’ve been battling the siren call during my revisions this week! It’s always encouraging to know that one of my favourite authors has the same problems as this humble AYU.

    So when is your next book out – it seems like forever since I could sink into one of your books.

    • January 21, 2011 at 8:14 am

      Thanks so much, Anna! I especially love the ‘favourite author’ bit! 😉 Actually I’m much better on slogging through that 100 page slump point (just met it in the current book and you know, the siren call is as horrible as it’s ever been!) since I’ve got a deadline to meet. Focuses the mind beautifully!

      MIDNIGHT’S WILD PASSION is out in May both here in Australia and in North America. I’m re-launching the website on 1st Feb so check by to read an excerpt and see the cover and all that other fun stuff! Thanks for asking!

  • January 21, 2011 at 1:19 pm

    BIG BIG BIG Thanks to Anna Campbell for, first, answering my questions so well, you got them all correct! and second, for taking the time to reply to all of the comments made by your appreciative readers.

    Go straight to the top of the class, young lady. Clap, clap, clap!

  • January 21, 2011 at 3:34 pm

    Ah, Book Guru, your post is music to my ears – especially the YOUNG lady bit! Thanks so much for having me as your guest. It’s been a blast, as they say in the classics!

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