Archive for October 10th, 2017

The Guardian-SMAmazon Bestselling author Anna del Mar writes hot, smart romances that soothe the soul, challenge the mind, and satisfy the heart. Her stories focus on strong heroines struggling to find their place in the world and the brave, sexy, kickass heroes who defy their limits to protect the women they love. A Georgetown University graduate, Anna enjoys traveling, hiking, skiing, and the sea. Writing is her addiction, her drug of choice, and what she wants to do all the time. The extraordinary men and women she met during her years as a Navy wife inspire the fabulous heroes and heroines at the center of her stories. When she stays put—which doesn’t happen very often—she splits her time between Colorado and Florida, where she lives with her indulgent husband and a very opinionated cat.

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Q: Congratulations on the release of your latest book, The Guardian. To begin with, can you gives us a brief summary of what the story is about and what compelled you to write it?

A: Sure! The Guardian is the story of Matthias Hawking, an ex-SEAL turned game warden, engaged in a fierce battle to end poaching in Africa. When Jade Romo, a beautiful, stubborn, fiery journalist defies the poachers, Matthias will do everything in his power to protect the woman who has captured his heart.

The Guardian was born during a holiday in Africa. It was supposed to be a no-laptop, no-writing vacation. But I get a lot of inspiration from my trips and this one was packed with inspiration. Tanzania is an amazing country. And who could resist the magnificent Serengeti as the backdrop for an epic love story?

Q: What do you think makes a good romantic suspense? Could you narrow it down to the three most important elements? Is it even possible to narrow it down?

A: I think a good romantic suspense novel has to have a strong, twisting plot, an awesome setting and smart, clever, conflicted characters who defy terrible odds and evolve to challenge and love each other throughout the story. The stakes must be high, that’s a big one for me, with issues that matter in and out of bed, to each person, but also to all of us, to the human race. Oh, and a sweet, happy ending. That’s key for me. That’s more than three things, isn’t it? I’m smiling.

Q: How did you go about plotting your story? Or did you discover it as you worked on the book?

A: This is one of those cases where reality laid out the storyline for me. There have been so many cases of major poaching documented in the press. When I was traveling in Africa, several of these cases were in the news. The threats that Matthias and Jade confronted in The Guardian are very real.

Q: Tell us something interesting about your protagonist and how you developed him or her. Did you do any character interviews or sketches prior to the actual writing?

A: Matthias Hawking’s character is based on a number of real ex-special forces operators that have collaborated with the global fight against poaching. Matthias’s skill set as an ex-Seal fit neatly into the storyline. As to Jade Romo, in her own words, she’s what happens when you meld Anthony Bourdain with Nat Geo and add heaping spoon of attitude to the mix.

Q: In the same light, how did you create your antagonist or villain? What steps did you take to make him or her realistic?

A: To create my villains, I read the African papers, scoured the news about the world of poaching’s principals, and talked to the people on the ground. My story is completely fictional and yet, regretfully, similar things happen all too often, for real.

Q: How did you keep your narrative exciting throughout the novel? Could you offer some practical, specific tips?

A: I kept a quick pace and made sure the plot twisted in a few key places. I also peppered the story with clues and details that came together at the end. It helped that both Matthias and Jade were so action-oriented. Neither one was willing to take a backseat to the action. Both of them were in the middle of everything.

The conflict between them helped and so did their competitive natures. Some of the best, most exciting scenes in this novel are exactly that. In this case, creating an action-adventure male/female alpha pair was the perfect fit for the plot. Their romance fed on the action scenes in such a way that their respective skill sets came through. Jade learned to trust Matthias and respect his competencies and Matthias loved Jade as she was, a hurricane wearing boots.

Q: Setting is also quite important and in many cases it becomes like a character itself. What tools of the trade did you use in your writing to bring the setting to life?

A: Well, let’s face it. My setting was incredible and so well suited to showcase the characters in this story. Africa is an amazing continent. Tanzania blew me away. The Serengeti—come on!—the Serengeti is the third character in The Guardian. It offered infinite opportunities to the writer in me. The landscape, the wildlife, the people, I used it all to offer what I hope is a vivid, breathtaking background. In my mind, the Serengeti was an epic setting for an epic love story. In fact, if you’d like to see the images that inspired many of the pivotal scenes in The Guardian, click here to see my pictures of Africa.

Q: Did you know the themes of your novel from the start or is this something you discovered after completing the first draft? Are these themes recurrent in your other work?

A: I’m very passionate about my heroes. I love to write about my amazing wounded warriors, who rise from the ashes like mythological Phoenixes. In The Guardian, I carried through the theme, which by the way, also implies that the experience of being wounded, challenged, and defied by life itself is something that we all share as human beings. It’s not about physical wounds. It’s about psychological wounds.

In that way, both Matthias and Jade are wounded warriors, even though neither one of them is likely to recognize themselves as such. The idea of sex and love as healing elements is pivotal as well. Most importantly is the recognition that we are all wounded beings in one way or another. My wounded warriors teach us about the courage of healing through taking on the ultimate risk: love.

Q: Where does craft end and art begin? Do you think editing can destroy the initial creative thrust of an author?

A: Writing is a craft and an art. The story demands both. A technically proficient novel without art reads like an instruction manual without a soul. An artistic work of fiction is unreadable when the writer neglects the craft. The novelist must be an artist and a technician of the craft at the same time.

As to editing, I think it’s always meant to be a force of good to the story. The problem ensues when editing becomes a way of censorship to the author. Self-editing can be particularly murderous to the creative flow, especially to a new, inexperienced author. The obvious prescription to overcome that is writing. You write now, and you edit later.

I’m also a huge fan of professional editing. I think an experienced, capable, professional editor offers the best and fastest opportunity to polish a manuscript. Notice the adjectives here, experienced, capable, professional. I would add to that the right editor is also genre-specific, meaning that she or he is in touch with your market and readers. Unfortunately, there are some editors out there who do not meet those parameters. They can do some damage, especially to a new writer’s confidence. I know a good editor when I see one. She or he seeks to build, not to destroy.

Q: What three things, in your opinion, make a successful novelist?

A: Guts, insight, and perseverance. Guts, because you’ve got to be able to stand for yourself, advocate for your stories, and defy the odds. Insight because you must offer more to your readers than what’s already out there, which—by the way—it’s a lot! And perseverance because you’ve got to be able to stick with it for the long term if you’re going to succeed as a novelist.

Q: A famous writer once wrote that being an author is like having to do homework for the rest of your life. Thoughts?

A: I hated doing homework when I was in school. I love writing.

Q:  Is there anything else you’d like to share with my readers about the craft of writing?

A: Writing is an act of love. I’ve been saying that for a while. Writing is also an act of faith, I’d like to add, because—well—it just is.






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