Saturday, September 27, 2008

Association of Mills and Boon Authors - Fiona Harper

People think being an author is glamorous. Believe me, if you saw the way I look most of the time I’m writing (trackies, no make-up, hair in a frizz), you’d change your mind. But once in a while, we get to go out, eat nice food, drink nice wine and, best of all, talk! September 18th was one of those days as it was the Association of Mills & Boon Authors lunch, followed by a ‘Toast to the Authors’ by HM&B.

I arrived at Brown’s restaurant near Leicester Square in London a little early to find a few authors already chatting and, before long, the place was buzzing with romance novelists. Harlequin Romance authors were thin on the ground this year, with only Lucy Gordon, Natasha Oakley, brand-new signing Nina Harrington (and me!) in attendance. I really missed meeting up with some of my other ‘Romance’ friends, but there was plenty of laughter and gossip anyway.

I listened in on an interesting discussion between some Presents authors who were competing as to who had the hottest covers. You realise the difference between the cover art in their line and ours when their heroes get to have bare chests and wear nothing but sheets. My latest hero is wearing a cable-knit sweater. Lovely cover, but I don’t think I can compete in the ‘hotness’ stakes. No, siree. But I could definitely triumph in a cover contest based on the ‘Awwwww’ factor.

Dinner was served in one of the old courtrooms above the main restaurant, complete with judge’s bench and chair. On the menu was:

Warm Goat’s Cheese with mixed salad, fig relish and basil oil

Chicken Breast served with mixed roasted pepper tomato Provencal

Rich Chocolate Truffle with raspberry coulis (and yes, it was as good as it sounds!)

After coffee we had speeches from some of the senior staff at Harlequin Mills & Boon. Karin Stoecker, editorial director of M&B, filled us in on how the various series had been doing in the previous twelve months and outlined exciting future plans and projects. Harlequin Romance seems to have been doing well, and ever since the ‘Brides of Bella Lucia’ series, continuities are still proving popular. The current ‘Wedding Planners’ series is doing well and the wonderful blog the authors have created to go along with it was mentioned.

The launch of the Sony Reader in the UK and the rise of the popularity of ebooks was mentioned by Tim Cooper, Director of Direct Marketing/Digital. I’m very exciteda about the whole thing, because my English Lord, Ordinary Lady is pre-loaded on every device sold in the UK at the moment. Way to go, Harlequin Romance!

There wasn’t much time between the end of the lunch and the start of M&B’s party to toast the authors. Time whizzed by so quickly and I can hardly remember all the people I talked to. Harlequin Romance had some some great achievements to toast:

Caroline Anderson
Caroline Anderson’s 75th book.

Liz Fielding’s 50th book.

Jessica Hart’s 50th book.

A RITA nomination in the tough short contemporary category for Natasha Oakley.

Bookseller’s Best win in the traditional category for Donna Alward.

Here’s to Harlequin Romance going from strength to strength in the next 12 months and I hope we have even more successes to toast next year!


  1. It's nice to have a hot cover, but what's between the shets (pages) is what really counts. :)
    Good to see you ditched your trackies and glamed up. Good for you. What a great atmosphere it must have been.


  2. It was wonderful to receive such as warm welcome into the 'family' of HMB Romance authors -brilliant! I loved it.
    Nina Harrington

  3. Thanks for the recap and pics, Fiona! It's much appreciated to see what went on across the pond!