Debut Regency Author Catherine Tinley recently visited the office and she was kind enough to stop for a chat on her whirlwind tour of the office!
First of all – congratulations and welcome to the Mills & Boon office!
Thank you! I’m very impressed by the view and also by the professionalism of it all. You don’t really realise how much work goes into these books, but seeing everyone working makes me realise how huge it all is.
I started reading Mills & Boon when I was 15. I must have read every book in the library! So I definitely think that the model and the template of the stories were subconsciously in the back of my mind. Reading Mills & Boon definitely taught me how to write a Mills & Boon. And although I read a lot of other stories I’m always a romantic at heart and always want a happy ending. I remember reading One Day by David Nicholls, and finding it heart-breaking! I think when you read you become the character. So why wouldn’t you want them to be happy?
What got you into writing regency?
I always loved Jane Austen. But I quickly got hooked on Georgette Heyer – she basically invented regency! I’ve read all of her books hundreds of times. I am a proud Heyer nerd! I do find that I have to take breaks in between. I put them in a box in the attic like Christmas decorations and take them out every now and then, when I’ve forgotten enough of the plots so that they’re still fresh.
Did you tell people you were writing?
Very few people knew I was writing at all. Only a few close friends. My husband was the first person to read the manuscript and he was the one to encourage me to submit.
I never thought of myself as a writer. I have a very busy professional life so I thought of myself as a professional who wrote on the side. I found it to be a huge step to actually call myself a writer and to feel like I was a writer. And when you get the call, it’s not about the money, it’s about the validation of your work. It’s the fact that someone enjoys your work and wants to share it. I still can’t get over the fact that people will be reading my book! And it’s not just a story – it’s a book! A physical thing!
With that said, how did you find the submission process?
Submitting the manuscript took a lot of courage. I’ve never been part of writer’s groups. I never went to events. Once I knew that I wanted to submit, I went to a Belfast literary festival for advice and that pushed me over the line. I read the Mills & Boon website very carefully, went through all the criteria and made sure I did everything right. Then I sent it off and crossed my fingers!
The first email back was so thrilling. Just to know that I got through the slush pile was incredible!
Had you written before?
I wrote two full length stories before this one. But this book was the first one that I felt happy with. It clicked. I might go back to the other stories, they’re still incredibly important. They were a kind of apprenticeship, so that when I came to writing this one, the craft was there and all the practice was there, and I now know about discipline and being clear. I didn’t just think of the story but about layout and punctuation.
Thank you, Catherine Tinley, for taking the time to speak to us about your writing journey.
Catherine’s debut book Waltzing with The Earl is out NOW!