Saturday, October 31, 2009

'Why Vampires?' A Good Question For Halloween

In honour of of All Hallows' Eve, best selling novelist of The Brytwood Series, Georgia Evans, shares with us her answer to 'Why vampires?'

That’s a question I get asked a good deal, No doubt from people wondering why a mind-mannered grandmother spends her days writing about the blood sucking undead.

A good question too: What’s the appeal? Why are so many readers (and writers, of course) drawn to vampires?

Speaking for myself, the vampire first chose me, unexpectedly announcing around about chapter five, that he was actually Kit Marlowe, and not dead as had been supposed for 400 years. After that, the undead sucked me in (forgive the pun, it just came out, I couldn’t help it). Whether heroes, heroines or villains, vampires are fun to write and add a layer to the story that mere mortals couldn’t possibly manage.

In the Bloody Series, I wrote the vamps as villains. Of course from their point of view, they are fighting nobly for a cause, aided and abetted by the German High Command. The Others of Brytewood see the whole scheme completely differently and one by one, with a few casualties, deaths and close calls along the way, they eliminate the enemy. As the villains, they had to be eliminated but while they wreaked havoc among the Surrey hills, they added interest and tension to the books. In fact without them and their mission of sabotage and subversion, there wouldn’t have been much of a story.

In my Rosemary Laurey books, my vamps are romantic heroes and heroines. Very different and remarkably odd, if you think about it. Vampires as villains pretty much fits the notion of a bloodsuckers preying on the living but the metamorphosis from horrific figure to romantic hero is an incredible leap. Or is it? He fits many of the parameters of the genre. He’s the ultimate dark and dangerous hero. Messing around with a vampire you are playing with the ultimate risk. He might be good in bed but his kiss could kill. Plus, no matter how desperate your mother might be to see you settled for life, she would not want you bringing a a dead man home for Sunday lunch. Then there is the fantastic sex (although strictly speaking aren’t we skirting around necrophilia here?). On the other hand, by the time a man is a few hundred years old or more, he’s no doubt learned a thing or two and with a vampire’s stamina, he won’t fall asleep afterwards.

Hero or villain, a vampire in the plot makes for wonderful escapist fiction.

Georgia Evans is the pseudonym she uses for her Fantasy books. She's better known as Rosemary Laurey.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Brownies and Love

Sue Moorcroft reports:

There were chocolate brownies! OK, that wasn't the most important aspect of the lunch that Mira Books put on in Soho on the 19th October to bring LOVES ME, LOVES ME NOT to the notice of journalists from the glossies, but, you know, brownies are always good. So were the lamb chops, the cheese pasta. And, most definitely, the company.

And, to complete the joy, handsome hardback copies of LOVES ME, LOVES ME NOT for each journalist. I probably shouldn't say it but that book is just bursting with great stories from wonderful writers. I was SO PROUD!

(in the photo left to right are Judy Astley, Katie Fforde, Sue Moorcroft and Adele Parks)

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

A Cautionary Tale - Speaking to Readers

When asked, every writer has a story of that moment when they see someone they don't know reading THEIR book and they have tales of when friends have not only spied someone reading their books, but have dared to approach the reader.

RNA member and debut novelist Cally Taylor has one such story to tell. Friends the world round have been on the look out for HEAVEN CAN WAIT. These many friends have been taking photos and sending them to Cally (for a full report click here). One encountered an interesting reaction when he tried to request permission to take a photo of a woman reading Cally's book and this is the text he sent Cally:

"So, I saw the same girl on the train today, she's still reading your book! I chose my moment, wriggled past a few passengers, went up to her and explained that 'I know the author', 'it's her first novel' and 'she's very excited' and that I'd like to send her a picture of someone actually reading her book and would she mind?And this girl just looked at me, didn't say anything for what must've been 5-10 seconds, and then eventually, with a completely deadpan expression on her face, responded, "That's the worst chat up line I've ever heard." and just walked off."

That could be the beginning of a novel itself.....

'What would I do without you, Lucy Brown?' he said, and kissed me softly. I held his face in my hands and kissed him back. I felt that life just couldn't get any more perfect. And I was right, it wouldn't. By the end of the next day, I'd be dead.

Lucy is about to marry the man of her dreams - kind, handsome, funny Dan - when she breaks her neck the night before their wedding. Unable to accept a lifetime's separation from her soulmate, Lucy decides to become a ghost rather than go to heaven and be parted from Dan.

HEAVEN CAN WAIT is out now.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Mr Rochester Voted the Nations Favourite Literary Hero

Mr Rochester has been voted the nation's favourite literary hero in a survey hosted by Mills & Boon and The Times Cheltenham Literature Festival.

Here's a link to the YouTube Video

For more details of the event visit here.
An a link to an article by Penny Vincenzi and JoJo Moyes here.
(From the photo and the link I wish I had been there to enjoy the debate and the champagne service!)

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

On Waiting and Writing Companions

Waiting is something an aspiring author does a lot. And I mean, A LOT!! Whether we want to or not.
You have to have the patience of a saint (or three or four), because you’re always waiting to hear back from agents and editors and it all takes sooooooooo long! Or does it just seem like that to me? Unfortunately I’m not, by nature, a patient person.
Sending off submissions is, of course, a necessary evil. If you don’t send anything out, you don’t have the hope that something will come back with a yes, which is the holy grail of any aspiring author. And as long as there is some hope, you can keep on writing and telling yourself you’ll be a published author one day.

When it comes to patience, I guess we can learn a thing or two from our four-legged writing companions. Like Kate Hardy (see her post on Writing Companions here), I have a canine friend to inspire me and make me take a break occasionally. Well, actually I have three (see photo), but the youngest, the black one, is my constant shadow. He is quite possibly the naughtiest dog ever – he’s never yet done a single thing I’ve asked him to unless he was bribed with lashings of ham – but he keeps me company all day every day so I forgive him. He somehow manages to make himself comfortable by curling up underneath my chair, despite the fact that it’s one of those typical office chairs with four wheels. And he never complains about having to wait an extra ten minutes for his walk, just keeps reminding me until I give up struggling with my characters and take him out instead.

Luckily for me, some of the waiting was worth it in the end and my novella “Once Bitten, Twice Shy” is out this week.

So now it’s just back to waiting to hear about my breakthrough novel then ...

Christina Courtenay (Pia Fenton), “Once Bitten, Twice Shy”, My Weekly Pocket Novel No.1690
“Life will never be the same again for bookish Ianthe, plucked out of the shadow of her much-feted sister by the notorious Marquess – but does he love her?”

Monday, October 12, 2009

Crime and Passion Day with Barnsley Library

Wednesday 14 October 2009 sees Barnsley Central Library acting as host for a day of crime and passion. Husband and wife Kate Walker and Stephen Wade will each be speaking about their very different writing styles. The day will begin at 10.00am with a talk from Kate, who has been writing Mills and Boon romance titles since 1984 and has been published in over 20 languages. Stephen's talk at 2.00pm will focus on his work as a writer of true crime and will link to his new titles, one of which describes how to trace criminal ancestors. There will be plenty of time for questions and answers. Books by both authors will be available to buy and have signed. To book a place, please contact Jill Craven, Reader Development Officer, on 01226 773921 or e-mail This is a free event, but places are limited.

Friday, October 9, 2009

A Report From The Matera Women's Fiction Festival

RNA New Writers' Scheme member, Linda Chamberlain, writes:

I’ve set my goal. I’m going to find out which writers’ conferences are worth attending. It’s a tough assignment but I’m inspired and up for the task having just returned from the Women’s Fiction Festival in Matera, Italy.

Putting aside the issue of its fabulous location, the WFF is a good one. It’s small and intimate, ideal for new writers looking for that first break into publishing and with enough informative sessions to be of interest to more seasoned scribes. About 60 people came this year, mainly from Italy, also from France, Germany, Austria, USA and Britain. It’s an international conference, there is a team of interpreters for the multi-lingual talks and there are plenty of agents and editors giving talks and looking for new talent.

This is the crux. The one-to-one appointments. The dragon’s den. You have 15 minutes to pitch your book, your idea or simply ask for advice from a galaxy of publishing experts. They give it generously, without soft frills, whether they like your work or not. You may not like their opinion, you may feel knocked back or turned down; but, there again, you may ignite a new relationship. In other words, you may find your future agent or publisher.

At the WFF you can get a lot of appointments. I had six, others had more. That’s an hour and a half devoted to me and my work. That’s a lot. By the time I reached the final appointment with an editor on day three, my pitch was gaining in confidence and I was coming out with a smile on my face. Chatting to new friends and acquaintances it was clear that others were going through the same process. Many were being asked to send samples of their work. Ah, the joy of email.

Being new to this industry (I’m unpublished), one thing surprised me. Publishing is very international. US agents are looking for British writers and Germany in particular has a massive appetite for foreign books. The economy may be suffering but the need for books is healthier than ever.

The conference is in its youth, this is its sixth year, and was set up by American-born writer Elizabeth Jennings. She was an interpreter who, like many, longed to be a novelist. Love, marriage and motherhood had their first claim on her life and took her to Matera, Italy’s best-kept secret, and her husband’s home town. What a place for a writer to be based! It’s a town with a 7,000 year history, perched above a rocky gorge and blending almost seamlessly with thousands of caves. It’s a UNESCO world heritage site, has a Biblical flavour and is probably one of the few places you can enjoy breakfast in a cave.

Elizabeth, not surprisingly, wanted to bring other writers to this troglodyte haven. She considered setting up a retreat but the idea gave birth to this conference. As in writing, these things have a life of their own. She proudly says that Matera has featured in more than one novel on the bookshelves and many new writers have found their publishing break here.

The downside? Matera is hard to get to. The WFF will never be a massive conference, a zoo, as Elizabeth describes them. It won’t attract thousands of wannabes, just a neat handful. Perfect, really.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Two Upcoming Events - London and Norwich - Saturday 10th Ocotber

If you're in the London area this Saturday, 10th October, four romantic novelists: Juliet Archer, Jean Fullerton, Janet Gover and Victoria Connelly will be talking about heroes, heroines and writing those love scenes at Waterstones in The Chimes, Uxbridge (Piccadilly and Metropolitan lines) between 2 - 4pm.Victoria and Janet have stories in the LOVES ME, LOVES ME NOT anthology and will be signing this alongside their own books on the day.

Also on October 10th Fenella-Jane Miller will be in The Forum at Norwich selling books, along with four other East Anglian authors. She will also be informally launching her ninth Regency for Robert Hale, TWO GENTLEMEN FROM LONDON, which is released on 30th October. If you are in Norwich that Saturday please come stop by and say hello.

Friday, October 2, 2009

October Releases

Allie Spencer - TUG OF LOVE
Little Black Dress (Headline)
1st October 2009 - £5.99
Love, lust and litigation - a riveting romance so addictive it should be illegal!

Cally Taylor - HEAVEN CAN WAIT
15 October
Life is great for twenty-eight year old Lucy Brown, until she dies the night before her wedding and ends up in Limbo. If she wants to become a ghost and be reunited with her fiance Lucy must find love for a complete stranger in just twenty-one days.

Harlequin Mills and Boon
2nd October 2009
Hardback £13.50
Desperate to keep her illegitimate son from his brutal father, Lady Emma of Fulford offers herself to a Norman knight in return for protection...

Monica Fairview - THE OTHER MR. DARCY
Sourcebooks Landmark
October 1, 2009
Unpredictable courtships seem to rum in the Darcy family!

Kate Lace -The Love Boat
Little Black Dress
29 Oct 2009
Poppy Sanders works on a luxury holiday yacht when she goes overboard for handsome deckhand Charlie.

October 1st 09
Sea captain Nick Thornton takes revenge on the woman who spurns him by marrying her younger sister.

October 1
The Secret Shoppers are back - and their festive to do list will make yours look a piece of Christmas cake: ditch ex-husband, hide criminal past, go undercover in Santa's's enough to make a woman weep.

Severn House
A romantic comedy with slices of lemon tart. Should Clio marry her perfectionist French lover?

Robert Hale
30th October 2009
A Regency romantic suspense set in Norfolk.

Fenella-Jane Miller -MISS BENNET & MR BINGLEY
Park Publishing
April 2009
Discover what Charles and Jane really felt and what happened to Jane in London.

Mills & Boon "Romance"
Annie exchanges her role as the "people's angel", for a week of obscurity. Fat chance.

Mills & Boon Single Title
11 short stories from M&B authors worldwide

Mary Nichols -Honourable Doctor, Improper Arrangement
Mills & Boon
October 2009
Longing to have children, widowed Kate Meredith accepts a viscount's proposal, but when she meet Doctor Simon Redfern, she begins to wonder if she has made a big mistake.

Jennifer Bohnet - FOLLOW YOUR STAR
Robert Hale
October 30th 2009
Monaco and the Amazon Jungle, two vastly different worlds collide in a tale of survival and love.

Margaret Mounsdon - LONG SHADOW
My Weekly Pocket Novel no 1689
8 October 2009
Fiona Dalrymple is shocked to learn on the death of her grandmother that Ellie wasn't her grandmother at all. Her real grandmother is still alive and what's more, Fiona has a brother who has disappeared. She sets out to find him.

Sarah Mallory -The Wicked Baron
Mills & Boon Historical

October 2009
He broke her heart once before, but now he won't take no for an answer.

Julia Williams - LAST CHRISTMAS
29 October
It's the most wonderful time of the year. Isn't it?


Mary de Laszlo - Back to the Future
- a short story in October issue of Candis.