Sunday, June 07, 2009

Back to the beginning

I'm a bit late writing this blog. In the UK it has already been the first Sunday of the month for most of the day, so I'm sorry that my post has been a bit delayed. I've been away, you see, and I've only just got back.

One of the interesting things about being a writer and having established my name and my publishing history, is that sometimes people find out about me - through my web sit or my blog - and they ask me to be involved in bookish things that I don't expect. And that's what I was doing this weeked. I was in Haworth, West Yorkshire, appearing on a panel that was discussing the Bronte sisters - Charlotte, Emily and Anne, and their books - Jane Eyre, Wuthering Heights, The Tenant of Wildfell Hall and all the others. We were also talking about their influence on romantic fiction. Some weeks ago, the Arts Officer of the Bronte Society had seen a blog I wrote on the way that part of Wuthering Heights had influenced my book Bedded By The Greek Billionaire and as a result that was why she asked me to be on the panel this weekend.

It was a like a trip 'back home' to me as I grew up in Yorkshire, not too far from Haworth and this was the first time I'd been there for ages. It was wonderful revisiting places I'd loved - but it also made me think about the way I got into writing romances.

When I was growing up in Yorkshire, my mother had a friend who wrote for Mills & Boon as Margaret Baumann, and she gave my mother her books when they were published. I read some of those and quite enjoyed them but they seemed quite mild to me when I was interested in stronger emotions, more passionate stories. (It has always intrigued me that my mother was thrilled to see me reading Wuthering Heights with its story of passion, betrayal, death and hateful revenge but she didn't like the idea of my reading contemporary romance!) So after I left home and went to university I stopped reading Mills & Boon novels for a while. I was studying Children's Literature as part of my degree and I turned to that for my fix of good, straightforward storytelling.

But then when my son was very small, on an impulse I picked up a book that appealed to me and when I read it I remembered the old romance I had read - but this one did reach out and grab me. It was set in the North of England with a dark, saturnine hero and a young innocent heroine. I loved it and it sparked my interest in romances all over again. I read more and, recalling how Margaret Baumann had written her novels while looking after 2 young children, it spurred me on to write my own first (and pretty dreadful) attempt at a romance.(I hadn't read enough of the current output to really understand what editors were looking for so I made the classic mistake of not understanding the genre properly.)

Over the years, that first book had got lost, mislaid in several house moves, and as my career progressed I kept wishing I could remember just which book it had been. I knew the author - Anne Mather (still writing today) and I remembered that the hero and heroine had been called Jake and Ashley and that she had lived in the local small hotel of pub. And I knew that when I'd bought it it had been a Bestseller reprint, not the first published edition. I kept looking though and talked to author friends about it - but no one could recall the book I was talking about. Sadly, I have never met Anne Mather so that I could tell her of this book and ask her which one of her many novels it was.

But then I decided to have one last go at finding this title. With the help of the database over on Fantastic Fiction and a vague idea of the date, I worked through all their synopses for Anne Mather titles of that time. And eventually I found it

There were the names Ashley and Jake, and the small hotel. And it had been first published in 1974 which would mean that it could have been reprinted in about 1981.

And the title was Witchstone

When young Ashley Calder's father died she travelled north to make her home with her uncle and aunt in their small hotel. It was while helping them there that she met Jake Seton and her whole life changed yet again. For Jake Seton and her whole life yet again. For Jake was unlike any other man she had ever met, and beyond her reach in just about every way. Although a man of immense and undeniable attraction for her,- he was far too old and sophisticated for her, his social sphere was far removed from her own-and above all he shortly to be married to his fiancée the glamorous Barbara Forrest. So why did he persist in making it clear to Ashley that the attraction was by no means only on her side?

Armed with this information I found a secondhand copy of Amazon and to my delight it was the Bestseller reprint edition that I originally remember buying. That was published in December 1980. Which was four years before my own first book was published.

It’s intriguing rereading it today - for example – in the chapter one, the heroine first appears in her school uniform! (She's 17) And first her aunt lights up a cigarette when she's finished her baking, then Ashley's uncle lights his pipe and finally at Jake Seton's first appearance he hands round a pack of cheroots. Can't imagine that happening today.

But this got me wondering – what was the book that really got you involved in reading romance? Can you remember your ‘first time’? What was the title of the book and do you still have a copy? Do you still read that author? I’d love to know.

And I’ll ask Sid the cat to pick out one of the posts to win a copy of Bedded By The Greek Billionaire.

Kate has just learned that her latest novel has been accepted and scheduled as will be released as The Konstantos Marriage Demand in February 2010

Coming up is Kept For Her Baby which is to be published in August (UK) and October – in Presents Extra in America. But before that there is the reprint of At The Sheikh’s Command coming in the Sold to The Sheikh collection in June in the UK.

You can find out more about Kate and her books on her website or for the most up to date news, visit her blog.
Added 12th June
I'm so sorry for the delay in replying. My life speeded up rather too much after I posted - editorial discussions, new contracts, special projects, plans for next year - for 2010 already!! and I've been trying to catch up ever since.

Thank you all so much for your replies I've found them fascinating to read. I'm just sorry I didn't get in here to chat with you - story of my life!
Sid has picked awinner and the winner is Terry S - great choice Sid - those are two of my favourite boooks and ones that had me reading romance too.

Terry please can you email me and send me your postal address and I'll get your prize in the mail.


CrystalGB said...

Shanna by Kathleen Woodiwiss is the book that got me into reading romance. I do have a copy. I have several of her books.

Estella said...

I don't remember the name of the book, but it was written by Barbara Cartland. Sad to say, with several moves, I don't have any of her books now.

Virginia said...

With out a doubt Gone With the Wind! Then I got hooked on Constance O'Banyon's books and read Rebel Temptress of her back in early eighties and was hooked totally. I have been reading romance every since

Pat Cochran said...

Can't remember any titles, but my
earliest romances were written by
Kathleen Woodiwiss and Barbara
Cartland. Seems your commenters,
thus far, have all started with the
same authors! I have about fifteen
Mills and Boon copies that are so
yellowed with age (including a
Betty Neels) plus a box of the very
first Harlequin Presents that were

Pat Cochran

Mari said...

Probably the first was Anne of Green Gables. Not strictley a romance but I remember rereading the romantic parts in particular. This led me to read other books with romantic elements.

Helen said...


What a great story I do remember the first romance I read and yes I still have it. My Mum gave me a copy of Rosemary Rogers Sweet Savage Love to read and I was hooked on romance and have not stopped reading them since then and that was back in about 1976 I think over the years I have read so many wonderful books I love all the genres now.
I truly thank my mother for giving me that book to read, we read so many at one time my Mum would read 3 Mills & Boons a day and some of them I still remember. If I still had Mum now she would be so happy with the interenet and all the books that I have read.

Have Fun

Have Fun

robynl said...

Jude Devereaux, LaVyrle Spencer were among the very first authors whose books I read but can't remember exact titles any more.

penney said...

The first book that got me into romance books is the very first of the Harlequin super romances No. 2, I forgot the name but I loved it.

Ash said...

The book that started it all for me was The Stud by Barbara Delinsky. I still have the same copy, and I've read maybe a few of her other books as well.

I owe many thanks to her, and my aunt, who gave me the copy to begin with.

Kytaira said...

No need to enter my name. I already have Bedded by the Greek Billionaire. I also wanted to say thank you to Kate for The Sicilian's Red-Hot Revenge that you sent me. Loved it!

I'm not really sure what my first book was. I know Woodiwiss and Rosemary Rogers were early ones.

For series books some of the oldest I remember are Jessica Steele's Devil in Disguise and Violet Winspear's Desire Has No Mercy. Lots of Charlotte Lamb, Daphne Clair, Penny Jordan and such.

Alison said...

I'm not sure what the title was, but I remember the author - Vivian Stuart was the wife of one of my father's closest friends and she used to send us her books as they came out. I can remember the cover was blue sky with pink floers - was it something about a Captain? I should remember more but in my defence it was a long time ago!

Caroline said...

Great blog Kate! Absolutely with you on finding old books - best thing for me is eBay - I've bought loads of old favourites that I should have kept at the time but didn't! But the one of the first books that got me "hooked" was Bittersweet Rain by Erin StClare 1984 - (Sandra Brown.) I got a copy of it recently from eBay and have loved re-reading it! Take care. Caroline x

EllenToo said...

I also don't remember the title of the book but it was a Barbara Cartland book and my college roommate introduced me to it. I had all her books stored in the trunk I used to pack for college but it was soaked in a flood and the books are gone.

Terry S said...

The book that got me into reading romance was "Nine Coaches Waiting" by Mary Stewart followed by Georgette Heyer's "These Old Shades". I still have both books as well as most of these wonderful authors other titles.

Laurie said...

My first romance was Forgiving by Lavyrle Spencer. Someone left it at a pool bookcase where we were staying on an Easter break vacation.(1986) I did go on to read most of her other books.
I then went on to Catherine Coulture's Wyndham Legacy and Valentine Legacy. I also loved Laurie McBain.

I do have the copy of Forgiving.

Kate Walker said...

I'm so sorry for the delay in replying. My life speeded up rather too much after I posted - editorial discussions, new contracts, special projects, plans for next year - for 2010 already!! and I've been trying to catch up ever since.

Thank you all so much for your replies I've found them fascinating to read. I'm just sorry I didn't get in here to char with you - story of my life!

I'm now going to find Sid and ask him to pick a winner.