Twelve years ago, I was holding my author copy of my very first Mills & Boon, ‘A Baby of Her Own’. It just doesn’t seem possible that this month heralds the release of my 60th, ‘It Started With No Strings’!
Being an M&B author is something I dreamed about doing since my teens. And the reality is just as good – I get to tell the stories in my head (well, with a bit of reining back from my poor editor); I have great colleagues; and I can fit my work around my family. My general routine is school run, gym, laundry on while the coffee’s brewing and the Mac’s firing up, then work until the afternoon school run (and sneak in a bit more after dinner). Work can be anything from researching the background, writing a ‘dirty draft’ (rough notes), tidying up a draft or proofreading a finished book.
There are days when the words won’t come or you’ve written yourself into a corner – that’s when you whine to fellow authors and they say, ‘what if…?’ and it sparks off an idea to fix the problem.
And there are super-special days that you can’t quite believe – such as when Darcey Bussell read out the name of the RoNA Rose prizewinner this year and it was me!
One of the biggest changes I’ve seen in those twelve years is the rise of social media and ebooks. It’s fabulous being able to chat to readers on Facebook and to bond over favourite films, books and music. (And I’ve been introduced to some great stuff that way, too – things I can buy with just one click instead of having to wait to go shopping at the weekend and then maybe order it.)
I loved writing ‘It Started With No Strings’ – I really enjoyed researching tropical medicine and unusual cases, and you can tell that because my working title for the book was ‘Plague Squirrels’ J And I also sneaked in some of my favourite things: cake, dancing, good food and the gym. (Wait for the heroine’s best friend’s story in April…)
I buy a Pandora bead to celebrate each book when my editor accepts it. The one for my 60th is black faceted Murano glass (= the plague!).
I read a lot, and I’m thrilled that some of my favourite authors have also become real-life friends over the years – Liz Fielding, Caroline Anderson, Sarah Morgan, Michelle Styles, Donna Alward, Barbara Wallace, Heidi Rice, Amy Andrew, Scarlet Wilson and Fiona Harper, to name just a few. We get to meet up once a year at the Mills and Boon author lunch, but we also try to get together in London if one of the overseas authors comes to England. Let’s just say we’re the noisy lunch table, with much talking and laughter!
Overall, I couldn’t ask for a happier, more fulfilling job and I still pinch myself every so often to check if it’s really true…
Love Kate x