Getting the call
After 20 years of submitting, I finally got the call that made my dreams come true...
I've loved Mills & Boon novels ever since my teens, having been introduced to them by my nan. But I guess I was a romantic way before that - I think it all began with watching swashbuckling 1950s movies with my granddad on rainy Sunday afternoons: The Crimson Pirate, Rose Marie, The Desert Song... I loved the escape that they offered. It's the same with a Mills & Boon series romance - you can lose yourself in them completely for a few hours. Reading them is to step away from the everyday, and, though every one is different, I like knowing that, in a world of chaos, you're always going to get a happy ending. It's because I'm such a fan that I've always dreamed of having a title of my own published by them one day.
I've always written for pleasure, since I was an English Literature student at Cardiff University, but my writing ambitions shifted up a gear in her early 20s when I embarked on my career in magazines. And I continued to write for fun in my spare time. I believe joining the Romantic Novelists Association set me on the right track to publication. They have a really thorough, helpful New Writers' Scheme, where you can submit your manuscript and get feedback from an experienced writer, including authors at Mills & Boon, plus they offer all sorts of writing courses and an invaluable annual conference. With each course I went on, and each conference I attended – where each year I pitched to editors at Mills & Boon - I felt I was getting one step closer to reaching my goal.
Last year, during lockdown, I landed on the idea for a historical love story set among England's Viking tribes of the 9th century. I've always been interested in history, and my day job working on the County Life titles has certainly fuelled my interest in the subject, plus the beautiful scenery of these counties have influenced my fictional settings. I submitted three chapters of The Viking's Stolen Princess at the start of this year, and went on to finish the whole book during a month of furlough. There was what seemed like a very long wait, before I got ‘the call’ in spring from my Mills & Boon editor, offering me a two-book publishing deal. It was the most incredible news and I burst into tears - I was delighted they had fallen in love with my characters as much as I had and I couldn't believe my dream was actually coming true after so many years of hard work!
"I was delighted they had fallen in love with my characters as much as I had and I couldn't believe my dream was actually coming true after so many years of hard work"
In my first book, Saxon princess Lady Anne of Termarth is stolen for revenge - and a ransom. But her fierce yet fascinating viking captor, Brand the Barbarian, soon discovers it is her heart, not gold, that he desires... Although getting 'the call' was a dream come true, my new dream is to keep on writing for Mills & Boon for as long as I can. Their titles have given me so much pleasure over the years, and it's great to think that something I've written could now be the source of similar pleasure for other readers. With thanks to Anna Lambert for interviewing me for this piece.