Hi Anne and welcome to HJ! We’re so excited to chat with you about your new release, The List!
Thank you! I’m super excited to be here. THE LIST was a real challenge to write, and I’m thrilled it’s now available for readers.
Tell us about the book with this fun little challenge:
T is for: Tilda. Once Daniel meets her, she’s all he can think about.
H is for: HEA, a woman who thinks she doesn’t deserve one because she’s fundamentally flawed, and a man who knows she deserves that and more.
E is for: England. Tilda is an expat Brit now living in New York, but an important section of the book takes place in London and in Cornwall, where she grew up.
L is for: Ledges. Tilda and Daniel can’t seem to avoid them. The book opens with them on the (l)edge of a divorce, they meet on a ledge twenty stories over Manhattan, and Tilda spends most of the rest of the book almost going over them in a variety of ways.
I is for: Intimacy, and all the ways you can be intimate with another human being and still withhold your heart.
S is for: Stationery. Tilda sells couture stationery. It’s also for Sex. ☺ They have lots of it.
T is for: Townhouse. The List is set in the West Village, and the neighborhood and Tilda’s home are almost another character in the book.
What’s your favorite line in this book and why?:
Telling you my favorite line in the book would give away a key secret Daniel keeps from Tilda, but I’ll give you one of my favorite sections of dialogue in the book:
“You said it yourself. Stationery and introductions go together,” she said, watching as loose groups of dancers formed among the couples.
“Dance with me,” he said.
“I don’t dance,” she replied.
At that he came to stand in front of her, feet braced, arms folded, obviously amused. “You don’t dance.”
“I do not.”
His smile widened. “Like Darcy.”
“Perhaps,” she said. She tried not to stare at his mouth, or let her face flush as she remembered exactly what that mouth had done to her. “A Jane Austen fan?”
“I wouldn’t go as far as fan, but I’ve read her.”
“I’ve got an English degree,” he said.
“I wasn’t far off with a college professor guess, then, was I?”
“I considered it, but academia wasn’t really right for me.”
“But police work was?”
“I want to understand why things happened, and do what I can to make them right.”
And there was all the proof she needed that getting involved with him was a very bad idea. “Still, it’s an odd choice for a police officer.”
“Not really. You wouldn’t believe how much writing goes into police work,” he said, then reached past her to set his beer bottle in a cluster of other empties. Her nerves lit up again, sparks trickling from the point of near contact between his upper arm and her shoulder. “Shame you don’t dance. I love it. Nice to see you again, not–Lady Matilda.”
Then he walked away…
When you sat down to start this book, what was the biggest challenge you faced? What were you most excited about?
I faced two big challenges in writing the book. The first was Tilda. I really wanted to write about a woman who had the man of everyone’s dreams – smart, loving, honorable, and utterly head-over-heels for her – but who didn’t believe she deserved that man. I also wanted her conflict to be her fault, something she’d done, rather than something that had happened to her. In the end, I wanted Tilda to have both caused her problems, and to find her own way out of them. Daniel was just her guide, her companion, as she walked that path.
The second big challenge was the structure. Originally, I wrote it backwards, starting with the end and writing my way to the opening scene. Then I gave the book to my beta readers who told me, in no uncertain terms, I was making a huge mistake. ☺ I’d like to try that again, but for this book, a more traditional structure made sense.
These two challenges were the things that most excited me. An unexpected moment of delight came with the last scene. Every time I reread it as I was working, I knew exactly what I was working towards. It still makes me smile.
Please tell us a little about the characters in your book. As you wrote your protagonist was there anything about them that surprised you?
Tilda is twenty-eight, on the verge of becoming a global name in high end luxury goods, and has a gift for connecting people who might not otherwise find each other. But like the shoemaker’s children who are never shod she just can’t seem to do that for herself. She’s also difficult, cool, reserved, private, and completely unable to believe that Daniel’s hers. Daniel is an FBI officer with the soul of a poet. He’s grounded, warm, loving, and he’s going to do everything in his power to keep Tilda.
Is there certain trait or je ne sais quoi that you find all your heroes have? Why do you think that is?
I hope they’ve all got a certain possessive sexiness, one that’s totally respectful but also totally male. Gentlemen in the parlor and totally filthy in the bedroom. 😉 As to why…I can’t really answer for that. They come out as they come out.
The First kiss…
Slow. Teasing. Daniel’s in charge.
Did any scene have you crying or laughing (or blushing) while writing it?
There’s a scene where Tilda thinks she might be pregnant. I found it very amusing to write.
“You’ve got to stop leaving the front door unlocked like that,” he said as he swung into her office, expecting to find her at her desk. No Tilda. He walked into her bedroom, and found it empty as well. The bathroom door was closed.
“Tilda?” he said as he knocked.
Silence. He could hear her breathing behind the door. He squared up on the balls of his feet, put his hands on his hips, and stared at the locked door. Any number of possibilities had crossed his mind when he saw her text—Tilda in lingerie, Tilda naked, Tilda with lunch because he was hungry, too—but Tilda locked in the bathroom wasn’t on the list.
“Are you trapped in there?” he asked, trying to figure out if he had to call the FDNY or if he could jimmy open the lock with a credit card or a screwdriver.
“So open the door.”
No movement, just a shaky inhale.
His brain spun up an increasingly wild range of scenarios:
being held hostage, a sudden psychotic break on her part, a sudden psychotic break on his part. He checked his phone. Yes, she’d texted him. He leaned against the doorframe, and tried to figure
out where to start. “What’s wrong?”
“Well,” he said with a laugh, “you’re going to be even more late if you don’t come out of the bathroom.”
“Not that kind of late, Daniel.”
His grin disappeared so fast his jaw muscles tensed in protest. Emotion careened through him, shock, with a primitive posses-siveness hard on its heels when the image of Tilda, pregnant with his baby, bloomed in his brain. He cleared his throat. “How late?”
If a song played when Daniel walks into a room, what would it be?
Love Don’t Die by The Fray.
How about for Matilda? … Next to Me by Emile Sande.
For both of them…We Found Love by Rhianna.
What are you currently working on? What other releases do you have planned for 2015?
I just finished a novella for Harlequin/Cosmopolitan’s Red Hot Reads program that will be out in May, 2015. It’s the polar opposite of The List, with a fun, footless heroine who’s having a secret affair with her landlord, a glass blower who’s been badly burned by his ex-wife. It’s set in London’s East End, and I absolutely loved writing it. I’m about to start working on a project I’ve just sold. More details about that coming soon!
Thanks for blogging at HJ!
Giveaway: 2 Print copies of THE LIST by Anne Calhoun
To enter Giveaway: Please complete the Rafflecopter form and Post a comment to this Q: At the end of the book, Tilda and Daniel are talking about taking a belated honeymoon. Where would you send them? And Why?
“Would you do it now?”
“Get off while I watch.”
She had been wrong, so very, very wrong. He knew exactly what to do with his voice. “We’re in your office, which has rather large glass windows.”
“And you were sitting on a ledge two hundred feet above the street. You were shaking so I thought you were cold, or afraid. Then I thought it was the adrenaline. I was wrong. It was desire,” he said, looking away from her as he spoke. From the outside this looked like . . . well, maybe it looked like he was talking to her about a case. Maybe it looked like his girlfriend dropped by for a visit.
“Do you have a girlfriend?”
“If I did, I wouldn’t have texted you. No,” he added, cutting her off. “I don’t have a girlfriend. The last woman I asked out turned me down flat. Can you do it?”
“Why would you think I can?”
He shot her a grin full of mischief and a rather dark amusement. “You like risk. Based on the way you’re looking at me, you’re no more satisfied than you were a couple of weeks ago. Come on,” he said, lowering his voice, just enough to send goose bumps up her arms. “Show me what you can do.”
She crossed her legs. “Talk to me,” she said quietly, then activated the screen on her mobile. From the outside, she hoped it would look like she was scanning her phone while he talked. She closed her eyes.
“Because I like your voice.”
He chuckled, low and deep. “Do you have any idea how hot you were on that ledge? I should have yanked you back onto the patio. I should have arrested you for public endangerment, made up some law. But you were glowing in the moonlight. I could see your nipples under your top, see the flush on your cheeks. The moon was as bright as a streetlight up there. You’d been biting your lips, too. I wanted to do that. I took one look at your mouth, and I got so hard.”
She exhaled soft and slow, rhythmically clenching the muscles of her thighs. Her lace panties were caught up against her clit, and the pressure and shift of the lace provided a tantalizing rough edge to the flex and release. Oh, yes. “Oh, I do love being wrong,” she said with a laughing gasp.
“Waiting made it worse,” he said. “I made another mistake with the letter I sent you. I backed off, went with something too gentle, too traditional, I want to take you to dinner. Something any idiot would say.”
“What did you start with?”
Her voice was low, not breathy, almost inaudible. The pressure coiled behind her clit, arousing the nerves in her sex, and she closed her eyes, the better to see what he described.
He hesitated, then said, “I want to get you in my bed, naked and defenseless, then take you apart. I want to find the rhythm that draws you under, the angle that layers pleasure until you can’t breathe under the weight.”
She could imagine it, white sheets, blank like paper, his body caging hers between arms and legs, shades drawn against the afternoon sunlight and the ever-present city noise, her body bared in his bed, tangled with his, the slick stretch as he slid inside. The nerves in her vagina ached in anticipation. She added a subtle swivel to her hips, the lace tugging at her clit until she was close, so close, so fucking, fucking close.
“Sounds like sex to me,” she murmured.
He bent closer. She could smell him rather than see him, the scent of man and sweat and skin and the city. “It’s not sex, Tilda. I want to white out your thoughts, turn your muscles to jelly and your bones to light. I want to taste your come, my come, our sweat. It’s annihilation. That’s what I want to do to you.”
She came, silent, restraining her shudders to abbreviated jerks of shoulders and hips, her muscles clenching around nothing, nothing, the pleasure centers in her brain glowing white-hot. After a long moment, her muscles relaxed, and she opened her eyes.
He was watching her, jaw taut, expression feral.
“You look like you want to hoist me onto your desk and have your way with me.”
“Fuck you,” he said. “Hard and fast. Not enough time to annihilate you.”
Her heart gradually slowed. She inhaled shakily, exhaled more smoothly, inhaled again. “What a shame,” she said.
“You’d do it, wouldn’t you?”
An aftershock tumbled through her. “You’d lose your job,” she said. “I’d be arrested, which isn’t the adrenaline rush I crave.”
“A limit. I wasn’t sure you had them.”
She rose, steady on her heels. “I don’t date,” she explained. “That’s my limit, and why I turned you down.”
His brows drew together. “You don’t date. Are you in a relationship?”
“No. I just don’t like dating.”
“You don’t like dating.”
“It’s prelude to sex. I know whether or not I want to have sex with someone. Dinner and a conversation beforehand aren’t necessary, and are frequently counterproductive.”
This time his eyebrows shot up. “Okay. So you hook up.”
“Is that what you’d call what we just did?”
He thought before he spoke, a point to his advantage. “No.”
“What I do is what we just did.”
“Take a risk. A dare. A challenge.”
“Exactly,” she said, and slid her phone into the pocket of her jacket.
“Hmm,” he said, soft and considering.
“I have to get back to the shop. I told my assistant I’d bring her a latte”—she checked her watch—“thirty-five minutes ago. Not even Starbucks is that slow.”
“I want to see you again.”
She stopped with her hand on the doorknob, and considered him. He waited, silent, unmoving. Through all of that, he hadn’t moved, his arms still folded across his chest, his legs still crossed at the ankles. If he was aroused by what they’d just done, he kept it contained. She remembered his first impulse, the one he revised. She was sure he’d started with something sexual, not a decorous dinner invitation. They’d had a couple of discarded drafts, but hit their stride with his texts.
She opened her clutch and withdrew a silver card case, then a business card. Her name was engraved on one side in Garamond. The other side was blank. On it she wrote her address, then held it out to him.
“I’m having drinks with a friend,” she said as he took it, “so I won’t be home until after nine.”
He traced the edges of the card, then looked at her. “You’re serious.”
“About sex? Always.” She opened the door to his office. “Have a pleasant day, Agent Logan.”
Matchmaker and stationery shop owner Matilda Davies brings people together. For those on her list, Tilda will find the man or woman of their dreams—whether it’s for an hour or a lifetime. But due to a painful past, the British expat has never put her own name on the list. Instead, she limits herself to emotionless and commitment-free hookups. Then she meets Daniel, who wants not just her body, but also her heart…
Daniel Logan hides the soul of a poet under the suit and tie of an FBI agent. Specializing in financial crimes, he pieces together stories of greed and ensures justice is done. He plays by the rules—until he meets Tilda. He’s drawn in by her passion as well as her mysteriousness. Daniel knows that no matter her secrets, he’s the perfect match for Tilda. But even pleasure doesn’t come with a guarantee…
Meet the Author:
After doing time at Fortune 500 companies on both coasts, Anne Calhoun, national bestselling author of numerous novels including Jaded, Unforgiven, and Uncommon Pleasure, landed in a flyover state, where she traded business casual for yoga pants and decided to write down all the lively story ideas that got her through years of monotonous corporate meetings. Anne holds a BA in History and English, and an MA in American Studies from Columbia University. When she’s not writing her hobbies include reading, knitting, and yoga. She lives in the Midwest with her family and singlehandedly supports her local Starbucks.
The best place is either email to anne at annecalhoun dot com, or via Twitter at @annecalhoun. I love hearing from readers, so please do get in touch!