The Interviews
New Faces 226
Anne Barton
by Cathy Sova

Welcome to our New Faces column, where you can meet debut romance authors and discover their books. This time we are visiting with Anne Barton, whose first book is When She Was Wicked from Grand Central Publishing. Letís meet her.

Anne, welcome to TRR! Tell us about yourself.

I've lived in Maryland my whole life. The nice thing about our quasi-rural suburb is that it has cows, cornfields and a Starbucks. If we hop in the car and drive for an hour, we can see a ballgame in Baltimore, go to the theatre in D.C., or go fishing on the Chesapeake Bay.

I studied broadcasting at James Madison University and worked on a live, weekly cable TV show. I also interned at a local ABC station, writing scripts for commercials. I was always behind the cameras-never in front! I think I knew even way back then that I wanted to write. I just didn't know what.

During my junior year I spent a semester studying in London. I got to do all sorts of amazing things that I still can't believe, like riding a pony over the hills of the Lake District and seeing the Rocky Horror Picture Show in Bath. That semester abroad was four months of museum-hopping, castle-touring, pub-crawling bliss-and it definitely nudged me toward writing romance.

My husband and I have known each other since grade school and started dating in college. He's always believed in me, always encouraged me to go after my dreams. Our three teenagers are pretty amazing too. They make me laugh and don't seem to mind when I spend a whole day in front of my computer in my pajama pants.

Are you coming to romance writing from another job? Do you still have a day job?

I've had a few different careers, and I do still work at a day job that I love. I think it's good for me to work outside of the house-otherwise I'd be tempted to sit in front of my computer all day and never talk to real people. It's nice to have a balance.

What led you to write romance?

When I was young, my favorite books were volumes of Grimm's fairytales and Greek mythology. For the most part though, my grade school library was a big disappointment. It had one copy of Judy Blume's Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing, but no other books that really excited me.

Then, in my freshman year of high school, my Lit class read Pride and Prejudice. It was everything I'd craved in a book-wit, romance, and a happy ending. Not to mention Mr. Darcy. I wanted more books like that-books full of emotion, relationships, and hope-and I found them in the romance genre.

Tell us about your road to publication.

I began my first manuscript in 2006 and wrote four more before selling in 2011. I learned something from every manuscript that I finished, but more importantly, I was having fun. Going to workshops, meeting other writers, and attending conferences-I loved all of it. Still do! And I was most definitely a contest diva. Writing contests taught me so much and gave me boosts of confidence along the sometimes difficult journey to publication.

A highlight on that journey was winning the Regency Historical Golden Heart award at RWA's 2011 conference along with my talented cousin, Cara Connelly, who won in the Contemporary category. I'd received an offer on my book just a few days before, and that whole conference is one happy blur!

What kind of research was involved for your first book?

The heroine of WHEN SHE WAS WICKED is a gifted seamstress, so a lot of my research involved dressmaking and, of course, ladies' Regency fashions. I love looking at the sketches and reading the detailed descriptions from fashion magazines of the time. And it's so exciting to stumble across a gem like a video demonstrating the making of a gorgeous pink silk Colonial gown.

Tell us about your debut book.

It's a bit of a Cinderella story, about a desperate seamstress who tries to blackmail the wrong duke. Here's the official blurb:

A dressmaker in London's busiest shop, Miss Anabelle Honeycote overhears the ton's steamiest secrets-and (occasionally) uses them to her advantage. It isn't something she's proud of, but the reluctant blackmailer needs the money to care for her gravely ill mother. To make up for her misdeeds, Anabelle keeps to a firm set of rules:

· Never request payment from someone who cannot afford it.
· Never reveal the secrets of a paying client.
· Never enter into any form of social interaction with a client.
Her list keeps her (somewhat) honest-until she encounters Owen Sherbourne, the Duke of Huntford. Not only does Owen nip Anabelle's extortion plans in the bud, the devilishly handsome Duke soon has the sexy seamstress dreaming of more than silks and satins. With Owen, Anabelle enjoys pleasures she never imagined. . . until a scandal from the past resurfaces. Now her rules could mean his family's ruin. Owen's searing kisses carry the promise of passion, but how will he react when Anabelle's most devastating secret is finally revealed?

Who are some of your influences as a writer?

There are so many. Julia Quinn and Lisa Kleypas write books with the perfect blend of playfulness, deep emotion, and passion-books I want to read again and again. Elizabeth Hoyt writes heroes who feel larger than life but who are also still heartbreakingly human. I'm a big fan of Suzanne Collins and her writing style which, to me, feels very intimate-like there are no boundaries between the story and the reader.

What does your family think of having a published romance author in their midst?

Like I said, they're super-supportive. They cheer me up after every setback and help me celebrate each little success. They're proud of me, but I think the sweetest thing is that they were just as proud before I was published.

Tell us about plans for future books.

My second novel, ONCE SHE WAS TEMPTED, features Miss Daphne Honeycote. Everyone thought she was the sweet, innocent sister, but it turns out she has a couple of scandalous secrets of her own! That book releases October 29th, and I'm happy to say there will be two more books in the Honeycote series after that.

How can readers get in touch with you?

They can visit my website, or find me on Facebook and Twitter.

Anne,, thanks for joining us, and best of luck with your future books!

October 2, 2013

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