Category Archives: books

Falling in Love with Someone Else’s Hero

We all do it — fall in love with someone else’s hero. We always have. Robin Hood. Ivanhoe. Mr Darcy. John Thornton. Raoul de Valmy.

Also, in my case, Brian de Bois Guilbert, Humphrey Beverley, Faramir and Captain Carrot. I like geeks, loners and oddballs. Even those with the occasional dash of villainy, at least as long as I could redeem them. What can I say?

Indeed, I’d go so far as to say that a heart-stopping hero constitutes a good slug of the fun of fiction.

Liz Fielding’s Hero

Royal Bodyguard heroSo I don’t really know why I was so surprised when I fell hard for the hero of an unpublished novel by one of my favourite romance authors, Liz Fielding. Except that the book was not only unpublished, the story was still on the drawing board.

But there was something about the way she talked about her Fredrik…

He had that inscrutability. Something was going on underneath his supremely controlled competence. I could feel it. My fingers itched to get at him.

It felt faintly shameful. I recognised it. I had hero envy.

Essential research

Manor of hero

For I had joined three stunning authors to write a quartet of linked books set around a royal wedding in an English country church, published by Tule.

The four of us got together to talk about our characters and the world we were going to create. 

Visiting Castle Combe, a perfect English village, and having lunch in at the Manor House Hotel was just necessary research. Tough job, as Jessica said. But it had to be done. 

Jessica Hart’s Hero

Baronet heroSo we all went back to writing our books. I told myself that Fredrik belonged to Another Woman. And I needed to stay loyal to my own Prince Jonas. Concentrating hard, I managed it too.

Until Jessica Hart (she also writes as Pamela Hartshorne) sent me the first draft of her story.

And up came Max. And he was this wonderful, practical, grumpy, responsible, inarticulate Englishman who drank terrible coffee and worked all hours and loved his children and his dogs and his decaying stately home…

Yes. OK. In love. Again. 

And he wasn’t mine either.

Anne McAllister’s Hero

Bridegroom heroNow, Anne is the writer who convinced me to look again at cowboys, which was no mean feat. They really weren’t my fantasy until her skilful, principled, competent guys crossed my bookshelf.

So I knew I was going to love her hero. Well, of course I was. He was my hero’s best friend and best man at the wedding.

But did Jack have to be this much of a heart-breaker?

He gives up ranching to play his music. Even exhausted on tour, he can give a Greek god a run for his money. And he’s lost the woman he loves.

And there I go again, handing over my heart.

My Hero …

… had some competition, as you see.

Normally, while I’m writing contemporary romance, I will read biography or crime or adventure stories, for just that reason. But this time I was, as Anne’s Jack would say, hog-tied. I had to read those books to make sure I was staying consistent with our world.

hero on Pinterest - JonasSo how was I to keep my focus on my own guy and not get seduced by these itinerant hotties from my colleagues’ books?

Well, I could already hear Jonas and he quite often made me laugh.

Also, I knew that he has this quicksilver charm which some people might not even see because he keeps it banked down unless he is with people he really likes and trusts. And a whole lot more intelligence and passion than he is quite aware of himself. It takes my heroine to wake him up to both!

We authors had agreed to share images on Pinterest that reflected our main characters and I found just the right one for my prince who was also a volunteer forest Ranger.  Whenever I felt Jonas slipping away from me, I would go and have a look to remind me.

And yes, in case you’re wondering, I did stay loyal to His Serene Highness Prince Jonas. Just.

He’s published on Friday 13th but you can already order him.

So a question : which fictional hero have you lost you heart to?

Collaborator and Writer, First Steps in Doing it Together

Collaborator…

Collaborator with colleagueBy temperament, I’m one of nature’s collaborators. Show me a team and I’m spitting on my hands and doing my bit. With enthusiasm.

In my various day jobs, I’ve loved the sense of shared enterprise. OK, I could get a bit testy when we had meetings about meetings. But mostly interaction with other people buoyed me up when I was tired, focused me when I was floundering and made laugh a lot.

And I work a whole lot better than I do on my own.

…or Loner?

Continue reading

This Book is Dedicated

I’ve always been fascinated by dedications in books. There’s the intriguing possibility that they are clues to something hidden. Probably private. Possibly intense. Potentially the whole reason for the book. Thrilling or what?

stuffed bookcase

This is the second time I’ve returned to the subject in this blog. First time round I wrote about a range of books, only some of which I knew really well. No, let’s be honest. One of which I detested.

This time I’m writing about one of my great loves. Twice, under pressure of space, I’ve cleared out copies from my bookshelf, believing that I wouldn’t need to read them again. Twice I’ve bought new copies.

Which Work?

Dedicated to Dorothy GanapathyThis is a dedication which intrigues me enormously. I was reminded of it by the recent sad news that  Tim Pigott-Smith has died. He played the ambiguous and haunting villain Merrick in the BBC’s epic series about the end of the Raj, The Jewel In the Crown. 

The series was based on Paul Scott’s mighty Raj Quartet.  Continue reading

Crossing Cultures and an Author Panel

Author panel participants

Earlier this month a publisher invited me to chair an Author Panel. There were four of them, all just publishing that difficult second novel. We were to meet at Waterstone’s Piccadilly and they would discuss Love and Romance Across Cultures. Their own experience and writing gave them the basic material. It sounded a blast. But I havered… Continue reading

dedicated to the one I love

Dedicating to the One You Love – or Are You?

 

Trumpets dedicating

Dedicating a book to someone is powerful. It’s an announcement with trumpets.

We’ve all read the thanks that go on for several pages. They embrace everyone from the author’s family, agent and editor, to anyone who gave them help with research or did the typing.

Justified? Probably. Sincere? Mostly. But a dedication? No. Continue reading

Be My Valentine? I Don’t Think So

old laptop with valentineWhen email was new and spam was something you found in school lunches, I once got a message on my hefty laptop headed “Be My Valentine?”

I deleted it, unopened.

With a shudder. And I’d never even heard of viruses then. I just didn’t want to go there. Continue reading

An International Cover Story

A Cover Story begins  . . .

cover story -- UK cover of A Regency Invitation 2004

original UK cover 2004

Once upon a time, three writers of Mills & Boon Historicals got together to write a book. The three were Nicola Cornick, Joanna Maitland (me!), and Elizabeth Rolls. This is the cover story of that book of three interlinked novellas —
A Regency Invitation.

This blog is not about how the book was written, though we had great fun doing it, creating three love affairs and two mysteries at our Regency house party. No, this post is about the book’s cover — where it started, how it changed over time, and how different international markets adapted the cover look of A Regency Invitation to suit their readers.

Want to know how the Japanese market presents a romance set in Regency England? You can see it further down. And it may surprise you. Continue reading