As part of #LoveAtTheLibrary, we’re asking our authors to share why they love their libraries. Check back over the next few weeks to read their thoughts and remember to follow Mills & Boon to see all the romantic displays! Today we hear from author Kate Walker!
I grew up with libraries. They’ve always been part of my life, from the moment I learned to read and realised that the rather dark-looking formidable building tucked away in a corner of the West Riding Town I lived in was in fact a Carnegie Library, a treasure trove of stories and books that I could browse at my will – and borrow to take home! That was my Saturdays settled from then on.
I was one of five sisters and although we were encouraged to read, with bookshelves crammed and easily available, these were adult books and there wasn’t much money free to buy books for each child except perhaps as a birthday treat. But the library seemed to have an endless supply of stories- by authors I loved and new ones to discover. (I literally discovered Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte because it was the next book along on the shelf after all the Enid Blyton books which I had read, and I was looking for something new!) Sometimes I made myself unpopular with the librarians. I was a fast and voracious reader and having been down at the library when the doors opened at 9 am, I could usually read at least one, if not two, of the four books I was allowed to take out at one time. My mother or eldest sister would usually be making their trip to the library late in the afternoon and I tried to go with them, to return the books I’d read and get new ones. This before the days of computer processing and the books were stamped, a card taken out and put into the reader’s ticket and these had never yet been filed in the right date/reader author . So most times I had to be content with reading my four books all over again.
In a way, I grew up with Mills & Boon too. The first time I realised that books came from real people –and had the thought of ever becoming a writer myself – was when I met my mother’s best friend who wrote for Mills and Boon under the name of Margaret Baumann or Marguerite Lees . The local bookshop always had a display when her new titles came out – in hardback. We often visited her and her family and over delicious teas I would listen to her telling my mother about the new story she was working one. So it was an extra delight when I progressed from the Junior Library to the Adult Library and found there a large selection of her books to read my way through – and as a result I fell in love with romances and romance writing. As I grew older Mrs Lees was the first person to talk to me about writing, to read my attempts – and to tell me she was sure I could write.
The link between M&B and libraries has stayed – I was a school librarian, did a degree in English and Librarianship at University of Wales Aberystwyth – became a Children’s Librarian in North Lincolnshire as my first job. And all the time I enjoyed the relaxation of reading Mills and Boon romances. So I suppose it was inevitable when, having left library work to care for my baby son, I decided to really try to see if I could get published, that I turned to the sort of novels that my first author heroine had written and try my hand at writing for Mills & Boon.
I was so lucky that, Marguerite was still alive when my very first novel, The Chalk Line, was published in 1984. I was able to let her know about it and to send her a copy to read. Sadly she died soon afterwards but her very last ever book, Flower of Love was published in 1986 so for a short time we were together on the library shelves.