by MC D’Alton
#1 bestselling author in Amazon Romance series.
Winner for Best Established Author of the Year 2017 AUSROM
Finalist in Book of the Year, Long Romance, RWA Ruby awards 2016
Winner for Best Established Author of the Year 2015 AUSROM
Winner for Author of the Year 2014 AUSROM
Annie Seaton lives near the beach on the east coast of Australia, fulfilling her lifelong dream of being an author. After majoring in history at university, her career and further study spanned the education sector with the completion of a Masters Degree in Education. Then working as an academic research librarian, a high school principal and a university tutor, until she took up her full-time writing career.
Annie’s Porter Sisters series is published in print in Australia and New Zealand with Pan Macmillan, and she has recently signed a two book contract with Harper Collins in the Harlequin Mira imprint. Whitsunday Dawn is the first of these. Annie also has many books published digitally internationally across many genres and they are listed on her website.
Each winter, Annie and her husband leave the beach to roam the remote areas of Australia for story ideas and research.
Q. Where did the idea for your book come from?
The Whitsunday region has been one of my favourite travel destinations since we first visited the islands thirty years ago. The landscape both on the mainland, and out in the islands, is stunning. However, the reef is endangered by many natural threats and human interventions, and I wanted to raise awareness of these dangers in a fictional scenario. My book ideas always begin with a landscape, and then I weave the issue into the landscape, and then the characters and relationships come last!
Q. Why do you write romance?
The breadth of my life experiences has developed my love of romance. Married to my own hero for many years, and seeing my children have happy relationships has satisfied a deep need in my soul. I’m a sucker for romantic movies, and an always happy ever after ending. However, as I have started to write single title, I can see that I am moving towards books that are less romance-centred, and are geared more towards romantic elements.
Q. Is there anything which sets it apart from any other book in the genre?
The sensory aspect of landscape is a vital part of my writing. I take limited notes when I research a setting firsthand, as I find that when I revisit my handwritten notes, most of the time I can’t read my writing!
I keep a photographic journal as the inspiration for my words. Hundreds and hundreds of photos each trip. Those photos then comprise a pivotal part of my writing day as I put the words down, sometimes up to a year after the research. The photographs bring the sensory details back to me. The feel of the cool sea breeze on my skin, the smell of the ocean, and the stunning colours of the water all form a part of my character’s response to the landscape they are in.
A taster from Whitsunday Dawn for you below, I can still see the islands in my head as I write this!
Sapphire-blue water glinted as the sunshine played on the small waves whipped up by the wind. Pure white sand edged the water below, and palm trees swayed in the brisk breeze. The grey clouds had cleared, and the brilliant blue sky was rimmed by towering white clouds hanging over the small islands dotting the horizon. Liv drew in a deep breath of salty, fresh air and the tension that had filled her since this morning’s meeting with her father began to ease.
Q. What, if any, were the challenges you faced writing your book?
The only challenge was trying to keep it down to the contracted word length. Also, the final edits arrived when I was a week away from my deadline for the 2019 book, Shadows of Undara (working title). That was a very busy few days!
Q. Tell us about your process, how do you get into a writing mindset?
I am very, very disciplined. I sit at my desk at 7.30 a.m. Monday to Thursday each week and take a structured morning tea and lunch break, and my only other break is a stretch and exercise as I hang washing or feed the pets! I work till 4.00 p.m. and although I try to have a bit of life balance I do often work for a few hours after dinner each night too.
Q. What is the underlying theme of your book, if any?
There are two main themes: integrity or lack thereof in the corporate world, and how that can impacts on relationships, and also how we make personal sacrifices in our lives as we try to protect and please those we love.
Q. Would you call your heroine a typical romance heroine? Why not? What sets her apart from women we usually encounter in romances?
Having a dual timeline, there are two heroines in my book. Liv, the contemporary heroine, is driven in her corporate life, and her attitudes have defined her actions prior to the conflict in the story. My second heroine, Liliana, from the World War 11 era, is young and naïve, and her actions are driven by her love for her family and her perception of what is the right thing to do guides her ultimate decisions.
Whether they make the right choices, the reactions of each of these women are underpinned by their strength. One of the concerns when you are writing a strong heroine, particularly in the romance genre where most readers expect an alpha male, is being able to balance the strength of your hero and heroine so that the action and romance are believable and satisfying to your reader.
Q. What was your inspiration for your Main Characters?
I wanted to write a heroine who had hidden strength that develops through the story, with adversity being the catalyst for her self-awareness and development.
Being an organic writer (i.e. panster and an author who doesn’t take time to do character sheets and plotting) Liv and Liliana evolved as characters through their actions. When the first draft was finished, I reflected on each of their characters and examined the development of their strengths, and the character flaws that became apparent.
Q. What kind of research did you undertake when writing?
The research for this book was fabulous fun. It involved many trips to the Whitsunday Islands, sailing days, and interviews with locals who lived there in the 1940s. Walks around the foreshore at Cannon Valley Beach, a trip to Longreach to climb through a Catalina Flying boat, a trip to Bowen to see the site of the base as well as many hours trawling through war records and the Brisbane Courier Mail in the 1940s on Trove made this research a varied and satisfying experience.
Q. What was your favourite part in writing this book?
All of it. It was a satisfying and emotional story to write. When I read an email from my editor, and she said that she had cried at the end, that was very satisfying.
I fell in love with the characters—I already loved the landscape.
But the best part for me is always the editing process. Unlike many authors, I love receiving the structural report and seeing the book through an editor’s eyes. The editorial process polished the book and made the words gleam.
Q. Besides the gorgeous cover, what about this story will draw your reader into your world?
I believe the landscape will draw the reader into this beautiful and complicated world. The Whitsundays are a very beautiful part of Australia, and it is essential that we protect the pristine nature of the reef. I think that the dual timeline, the corruption in contemporary times, and the foray into the war years will appeal to a wide range of readers.
Q. Where can we buy your book?
All buy links are here, for both print and e-book:
If you would like to get in touch with Annie or keep an eye out for future publications, you can visit her website: http://www.annieseaton.net
Alternatively, why not sign up for Annie’s newsletter and stay up to date with her latest news at: http://bit.ly/2yBOVLq
Annie, Thank You for taking the time to chat to us about your writing and your book!