Author Kate Hardy gives us a glimpse into her writing life, writing tips and all things romance…
Can you tell us a bit more about how you came to write for Mills & Boon?
I was working as a health journalist but I’d always wanted to write for M&B; my husband pointed out that they published medical romances . When my 6-week-old daughter was taken into hospital with bronchiolitis for her first Christmas, the only way I got through it was to start my first M&B Medical. A Baby of Her Own was accepted on Chloe’s first birthday and published on her second (and she’s about to turn 21!).
You’ve been writing Mills and Boon romances for almost twenty years, congratulations! What 3 pieces of advice would you give to aspiring romance authors?
- Try writing for the line you enjoy reading most, because you’ll enjoy writing it and that will show through.
- Ring-fence an hour of your time to write every day – 500 words a day adds up to a 50,000-word manuscript at the end of 3 months.
- You can always fix a bad page, so write it rather than trying to be perfect 🙂
What was the inspiration behind your new book, Snowbound with the Brooding Billionaire?
Christmas means snow; and in England we don’t often have snow. Also, I’d visited the Dolomites a few summers ago and loved the area; I thought it would be a great setting in winter. BUT… there is no way you’d ever, ever, ever get me on skis. (I’m way too clumsy.) And I thought… what if my heroine hates snow? What if my hero is a snow junkie? How would it work out? And that’s where it all started 🙂
How do you handle writer’s block?
Quite badly – like many of my friends, I really struggled in lockdown. It was really hard to read or to write. However… we had a new pup (planned WAY before lockdown! – we wanted a half-sibling to our older springer spaniel). I took lots of photographs, and found myself writing blog posts about their adventures. They’re called the Pipsqueak Posts, because Archie’s very tall and long for a springer spaniel, and Dexter is quite small – hence the ‘Pipsqueak’ nickname – and the posts are basically Archie teaching Dexter about life. It made me smile, my friends and readers all enjoyed them, and writing something for fun nudged me out of writer’s block. They started off as daily, but nowadays they’re more occasional.
This year, you won the Libertà Books Shorter Romantic Novel award at the RNA Awards with your 90th title for Mills and Boon, A Will, A Wish and a Wedding. Can you describe that winning moment to us?
The day itself felt a bit flat, because normally being shortlisted for the RNA awards means going up to London, having lunch with the editors and then drinks with my friends, and it’s full of talking and laughing and hugs. Obviously, in lockdown, none of that happened. But huge thanks to the RNA for giving us a ‘green room’ space to meet up in so we could at least toast each other from home!
I shared a bottle of rose Prosecco with my husband and son, and we sat down to watch the live stream (my daughter was doing the same in Manchester, 160 miles away!)
And then Larry Lamb was on the screen, ready to announce the award. I really wasn’t expecting to hear the words ‘…goes to Kate Hardy’. I was utterly gobsmacked (here’s the pic!)
and utterly thrilled. To win the award for the third time, with my 90th M&B, in my 20th year of being an M&B author and my 25th year of being in the RNA – it was just magical.
What does your writing routine typically look like?
I’m up first thing for a walk with the dogs – that’s my thinking time. Then it’s putting the laundry on, doing the day’s chores, having breakfast (Archie and Dexter like the last couple of spoons of porridge from my bowl – and yes, I do mean they eat from the spoon); and then I settle down to write for most of the day. I’m a planner, so I work to an outline. I tend to read over the last day’s work to check I’m happy with the direction things are taking (there may be some tinkering, here!), then start writing the next bit. I have an exercise break in the morning and a stitch break at lunchtime and the afternoon, and work until it’s time to start cooking dinner. If I’ve written myself into a corner and I’m stuck, I might have an email flurry or a zoom chat with one of my mates (and obviously I’ll do the same for them). But right now I’m really looking forward to seeing people in real life!
You write for both the True Love AND Medical series. What are the differences between the two series? What is your favourite thing about both?
The short answer to that is that one has a medical background and one doesn’t! I think they’re quite similar in tone, at least for me. My favourite thing about both of them is that I get to write clever heroes with a heart 🙂 I enjoy being able to switch between the cutting edge of medicine in Medicals, and the broader range of settings in True Love.
What do you like to do in your spare time when you’re not writing?
I’m a voracious reader across quite a range of genres (though nothing super-gory). I’m also a total history nerd, so anything involving libraries, museums and country houses and I’m there 🙂 I also love ballet (started adult classes two years ago and Fridays are the highlight of my week), music and theatre (I go to at least one performance a month, and I’ve missed it hugely during lockdown – streaming just isn’t the same as being there in the front row, cheering and singing along with a band, or sharing laughter with a thousand other people in the same place). And during lockdown I rediscovered cross-stitch. There is a rumour among my friends that I don’t sleep because I fit so much into my life!
What are some of your favourite romantic films/tv shows? Any recommendations?
Best ever films: When Harry Met Sally; How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days; and It’s a Wonderful Life. For TV shows, I tend to watch either costumer dramas or crime (Silent Witness), though I do love Friends. And I did enjoy Bridgerton!
What’s in your TBR pile at home?
I’m looking forward to The Queen’s Spy by Clare Marchant and The Secrets of Hawthorne Place by Jenni Keer. And I’ve just enjoyed Fiona Lucas’s wonderful tearjerker The Last Goodbye, Nicola Cornick’s My Last Daughter (probably one of my favourites of hers), and Sarah Morgan’s The Summer Seekers (ditto), and I can’t wait for the new Susanna Kearsley. (They’re all real-life friends, but even if I didn’t know them I would love their books.) And I’m currently reading Maggie O’Farrell’s Hamnet, which is amazing.
At Mills and Boon, we’ve been publishing romances for over one hundred years. Why do you think romance has been such a successful genre?
Warm, uplifting stories with a happy ending will never date: and love’s what makes life worthwhile.
Last question! Flowers or chocolate?
Flowers! (And I might be a bit spoiled because my husband buys me flowers most weeks. They’re very much appreciated — I like the brightness of a vase of flowers in the sunshine, and the happiness they bring lasts long than chocolate… and without the guilt!)