Guest blogger: Anna Campbell (with giveaway)

UPDATE: The winner of the giveaway copy of Seven Nights in a Rogue’s Bed is Blodeuedd! Congratulations, and we’ll be in touch to get your address details. Thanks to everyone who stopped by to comment.

I’m so pleased to welcome fellow Australian author, Anna Campbell, back to Magical Musings. Anna last guest blogged here in 2008. Far too long! And we’re very happy to have her back.

Save the Cat with Baklava by Anna Campbell

Do cats eat baklava? Somehow I doubt it!

Thanks so much for having me as your guest today, Magical Musers. I love this site – I love how it’s a mixture of great stuff for writers and readers. Especially as I place myself firmly in both camps.

Do you guys know about saving the cat? Not a literal cat, although I’m sure you’d all be willing to dive into a burning building to save a moggy. It’s based on a very influential idea by the late Blake Snyder who wrote a series of books featuring ‘save the cat’ in the title. You know, SAVE THE CAT: THE LAST BOOK ON SCREENWRITING YOU’LL EVER NEED; SAVE THE CAT STRIKES BACK; SAVE THE CAT GOES TO THE MOVIES; SAVE THE CAT CLEANS ANNA CAMPBELL’S BATHROOM…

Sorry, that last one just snuck in from my lurid fantasy life.

Snyder’s idea wasn’t about setting up animal rescue homes instead of trying to write for a living. It was a very clever take on how you introduce characters, especially characters who at first glance are flawed or difficult or unlikeable or even irredeemable. This was particularly useful for a writer like me because if you’ve read a lot of Anna Campbell books, you’ll know that often either hero or heroine aren’t immediately the sort of people you’d want to invite for afternoon tea (perhaps with Greek pastries!).

Snyder’s take on this is you can have horribly flawed characters but there needs to be a glimmer of light, some sign that they are capable of redemption. One way to do that is to have your awful, snide hero dive into a burning building to save the cat (aha, that makes sense of the title at last!) early in the book. Readers melt at big strong guy saving wittle cutey fwuffy cwitter and therefore they’ll stick with that hero until he shows signs of redemption in his dealings with the heroine. Brilliant!

In SEVEN NIGHTS IN A ROGUE’S BED, my latest historical romance from Grand Central Publishing (out 25th September), the hero Jonas Merrick isn’t immediately sympathetic. He’s bitter and solitary and so eager for revenge against his vile cousin, he really doesn’t care who else gets hurt in the process. Then he meets my heroine Sidonie Forsythe and gradually he starts to change into the better man who has always lurked unfulfilled in his black heart.

There’s definitely a few save the cat moments at the start of the book, indicating that Jonas isn’t all bad. And the moments I had the most fun with involved food! Even on the first night, when Sidonie turns up to take her sister’s place in Jonas’s bed, he makes sure she eats something after her long and difficult journey. Later in the book, I wrote a fun scene where the characters swap information about themselves (very reluctantly), sweetened with a tray full of Greek pastries. How can Sidonie resist seduction by baklava? And of course, she doesn’t!

The reader recognizes that this care for Sidonie’s physical wellbeing is a sign that Jonas is starting to care for her, much as he fights against the vulnerability of falling in love. Awww!
For those wishing to use baklava for their own seductive purposes, here are two recipes:

Baklava recipe: (imperial measurements) (metric measurements)

You can read the blurb and an excerpt for SEVEN NIGHTS IN A ROGUE’S BED on my website:

P.S. No cats were harmed in the creation of this blog. MIAOWWWWWWWW! Oops, just stood on an imaginary cat. Cancel that!

So are you familiar with the Save the Cat principle? Can you think of any save the cat moments in your favorite books or movies? Have you tried baklava? I’ve got a signed copy of that cat-lovin’ book SEVEN NIGHTS IN A ROGUE’S BED for one commenter today. Good luck!

About Michelle Diener

Michelle Diener writes historical fiction and fantasy. To find out more about her and her novels, you can visit her website.
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36 Responses to Guest blogger: Anna Campbell (with giveaway)

  1. Michelle Diener says:

    Anna, thanks for such a great post. It is so lovely to have you back at MM.

    I have to really want something sweet to eat baklava, but it is delicious 🙂
    Michelle Diener`s last blog was …The Entangled Anthology – A year on

    • Michelle, thanks so much for having me here as your guest today. I had fun with the post – although it made me crave Greek pastries! I didn’t realise it was so long since I’d visited you guys!

  2. Misty Evans says:

    Hi Anna. Such a funny post!

    I love baklava and I use Blake Snyder’s books all the time for plotting. I also buy them for writer friends and recommend his beat sheet to the students who take my plotting workshop. His method makes the whole plotting/synopsis process SO much easier for me! The one pitfall is that I end up making off the beats in my head every time I watch a movie. LOL.

    • Hi Misty! Thanks for saying you enjoyed the post. Yeah, it’s an occupational hazard, analyzing the story, isn’t it? I watched a couple of movies this week when I was staying with friends and I think they got to the point of wanting to hit me for saying things like “good raising of the stakes,” “oh, look at that black moment!” Need to keep my mouth shut! :mrgreen:

  3. Edie Ramer says:


    OMG! Anna, we have the same lurid fantasy life! I really enjoyed this post. I’ve read 2 of Snyder’s Save the Cat books, and they’re both full of insights.

    In the TV show House, he’s is a terrible person. But every show has a Save the Cat (or Human) moment, though it might not come until near the end instead of the beginning. Plus, he’s sardonic, which is entertaining. It’s been awhile since I read the books, but I think Snyder liked that, too.

    • Edie, isn’t it tragic when my fantasy life revolves around someone doing my housework? I don’t even care what he looks like! 😀

      House is such an interesting case (no pun intended – well, maybe a LEETLE one!), isn’t he? I have to admit I watched the first few series avidly and then just got sick of the fact that he never seemed to learn from his mistakes. But as you say, there was always that moment at the end when the doctor rather than the creep kicked in and you found yourself liking him. I originally found his cleverness intriguing but then it just frustrated me that someone so clever just never seemed to want to take the next step. Great acting, though!

      • Edie Ramer says:

        Anna, I think ‘intelligence’ is something a reader admires, too. Especially when it’s coupled with snarky comments – which House excels in. It’s kind of a guilty pleasure, without the calories.

        Actually, I only watched his shows a few times, too, though. I’m usually writing at night. 🙁

        • Edie, that’s a really interesting comment on how you watched House. I got them out on DVD from the local Netflix and watched a LOT together. Probably not the best way to immerse yourself. Once a week, I could probably forgive him for never learning the error of his ways.

  4. Eliza Daly says:

    Save the Cat Cleans Anna Campbell’s Bathroom. I love it! That’s one of the great parts of being a writer is you can make all your dreams come true. I’ve never heard of that series. I’m definitely going to check it out. I’m told a lot that my heroes, and sometimes heroines, are too alpha and need to show a softer side. Thanks for chatting about it.

    Edie, I love House. My husband hates it cuz he’s such a jerk, but I’m like he wouldn’t save lives he was was emotionally attached to them. And he does have some great Save the Cat moments. Okay, that’s going to be my new line, Save the Cat… I cannot believe I’ve never heard of that series.

    You’re cover is very striking Anna, love the yellows and golds. Congrats on your recent release!

    • Hey, Eliza, thanks so much for saying you enjoyed the post. I had great fun writing it. It’s something I’ve been thinking of for a while, I think because when I read Save the Cat (thanks to great Aussie romance writer Bronwyn Jameson), I realized that I’d instinctively put in save the cat moments when my characters were a little too difficult at the beginning. Mind you, I have a great tolerance for flawed characters as long as in the long run, they learn the errors of their ways. I think there’s so much interest in watching a redemption story when the person REALLY needs redemption big time.

      • Eliza Daly says:

        I agree Anna. I have a huge tolerance for flawed characters. The more flawed the better, yet some genres seem to prefer the characters more sympathetic than I do. I characters who need A LOT of growth. 🙂

  5. blodeuedd says:

    I had never heard of that 🙂 But makes sense (and rescue the kitty please!)

    And on another note, Love the dress on the cover, I am such a coverlover
    blodeuedd`s last blog was …Review: The English Monster – Lloyd Sheperd

  6. Blodeuedd, I promise no kitties were harmed in the making of this post! 😉

    Thanks for saying you love the cover. I’ve been drooling over it since I first saw it about six months ago and I’ve put it on everything I can find from magnets to tote bags. Hmm, the drooling picture isn’t really attractive, is it?

  7. CateS says:

    Save the cat? I’ll have to find out more on this!! But Greek food… love it!! We’re fortunate to have a couple of local places that do it very well!

    • Cate, there’s actually a really strong Greek influence in Australia (bet that surprises you). At one stage, Melbourne, where I’m currently staying, was the third largest Greek city in the world! Check out Save the Cat – it’s really interesting!

  8. catslady says:

    Even if you weren’t “literally” talking about cats, I still enjoyed the post. With 5 cats you would think they could get together and clean my bathroom roflmao. Looking forward to reading your newest story (even without cats).


    • Catslady, I had to laugh – this was actually a cat-free zone, wasn’t it? What false advertising!!! Actually there’s a cat in the book I’m writing now, a supposedly man-hating cat who gets a major crush on my hero. She was fun to write! Hmm, if you train your cats to clean your bathroom, can you send them over to do mine? 🙂

  9. Amy R says:

    Great post! I have never heard of Blake Snyder or the Save The Cat stuff. But then I am a reader so that sort of stuff isn’t what I come across or look for on a daily basis. However you authors go about plotting your books works for me! I enjoy the stories that are told. Great cover! I also love the dress the heroine is wearing. Every girl dreams of wearing dresses like that. Well, maybe not every girl but I sure did and still do. I live through stories. Thanks for the post! Very fun!

    • Amy, I adore that dress. It’s a real princess dress, isn’t it? There’s actually a gold bedroom that features strongly in 7 Nights (well, we’ve got all those nights to get through, haven’t we?). I love that the artists at Grand Central picked up on the theme and ran with it. So glad you enjoyed the post – thanks for swinging by!

  10. Jane says:

    Hello Anna,
    Congrats on the new release. I love baklava and try to get some every time I visit my cousin in Detroit, which has a huge Middle Eastern population. I just read in the newspaper about a Japanese study claiming that looking at pics of kittens and puppies can help you perform better on tasks.

    • Janga, killing myself laughing at the Japanese survey – to think I can now say that looking at Facebook is helping my productivity. SOOOO many kitties and puppies there. Actually someone told me and I suspect it’s true that there are more cat pics than p**rn pics on the internet. That’s actually kinda nice – gives me hope for human nature! Thanks for the congrats and the lovely review!

  11. Bathroom cleaning cats? Be still my heart! 🙂 If mine would just pick up after themselves once in a while, I’d be happy.

    I’ve read two of Blake Snyder’s books, and have to admit I’m a sucker for those “save the cat” moments. For example, I know Snape wasn’t really the hero of the Harry Potter series (even though he was for me, lol), I was so glad he had several “save Harry” moments throughout the book to redeem some of his nastiness.

    Then again, I just love flawed heroes in general. 🙂

    • Hi Kate! Yeah, I love that trope of is the hero the goody or the baddy. Often it’s only a Save the Cat moment that tells us. Yeah, I’m with you on flawed heroes. Flawed characters generally – I think it’s true to life and it’s interesting to watch them struggling with their problems. HATE perfect heroines!

  12. Cynthia Eden says:

    Who can resist baklava?:) Great post!
    Cynthia Eden`s last blog was …Something New…THE BETTER TO BITE (With Giveaway)

  13. Liz Kreger says:

    Hi Anna. Thanx for joining us here at MM. Love the concept of giving a damaged hero (or heroine) redeming qualities … such as saving a cat. It certainly gives the reader an insight to his or her character.

    • Hi Liz. Thanks for having me as your guest today. It’s been a really interesting discussion. Actually I think Blake S has a point about the save the cat moment needing to be fairly early in the story so that the readers stick with the hero or heroine until they see further evidence of redemption. Sometimes that further evidence can be WELL into the story!

  14. Linda Thum says:

    I’ve not heard of saving cats before.Why cats – couldn’t Blake have been saving dogs instead? Must have been a cat lover!

    Greek food is not very common where I live (I’m from Asia); hv I missed something sinfully delicious? If it’s a surefire winner for seduction I’m learning how to make it. I need all the help I can get in that department!

    • Linda, Greek food is absolutely delicious. It’s hearty and based in peasant cooking and they use a lot of lamb (sheep are a staple of Greek rural life). Greek roast lamb with rosemary and garlic is to die for (I’m blogging about that next Friday so swing by and get the recipe). And their sweets are really sinful – quite similar to a lot of Middle Eastern sweets because the Turks controlled Greece for hundreds of years. That’s actually a minor element of the plotting of Rogue so I feel the Greek food connection is more than just there because I happen to like nuts in syrup! 😉

  15. Barbara Elness says:

    I can picture what you mean by save the cat moments, and I think they really work now that you mention them. The only one I can think of right now is in Eloisa James\’ When Beauty Tamed the Beast – Piers Yelverton, Earl of Marchant and skilled physician – is a thoroughly bad tempered, unlikeable man who is in constant pain due to a leg injury, but we see how dedicated he is to helping his patients, and begin to care about him, as does our heroine Linnet.

    • Barbara, that’s a classic save the cat moment! Great choice. Actually there’s on in Claiming the Courtesan, when Kylemore is nice to the little maidservant who’s hiding in the house. Gives you a hint that underneath all the anger, there’s a man worth saving. The funny thing is that at the time, I had no idea about save the cat so I did it instinctively!

  16. Janie says:

    I’m not familiar with the Cat principal, but it is absolutely true! Specific moments don’t come to mind at the moment, however. I love baklava. I tried it for the first time around 12 years ago when a very sweet exchange student, just because he heard it was my birthday, gave me some his grandmother had sent him.

    • Oh, what a lovely story, Janie! I first tried baklava when I was a very lonely and miserable lump at boarding school. A Greek classmate’s mother felt sorry for the poor boarder and sent me a whole slab of baklava. Had a soft spot for Greeks ever since – needles to say, they come out very well in Rogue, thanks to Mrs. Kentrotis’s act of generosity all those years ago!

  17. Thanks so much to the Magical Musings girls and particularly to Michelle who hosted me today. I’ve really enjoyed our discussion – some really interesting points were made, I think! Don’t forget to check back to see who won the signed copy of SEVEN NIGHTS IN A ROGUE’S BED. Good luck!

    • Thank you, Anna. It was such a pleasure having you back.

      I’ve announced it in the blog itself, but thought I’d repeat it here, that the giveaway winner is Blodeuedd. Congratulations, Blodeuedd, we’ll be in touch for your details.

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