Monday, September 24, 2007

100 not out! Looking back - and forward . . . with Kate Walker

Last year I let you all know about the very first Presents Authors dinner that was held on the night before the annual AMBA (Association of Mills & Boon Authors) lunch in London, here in the UK. I’ve just got back home from three days in London where there was a second Presents dinner on the Thursday night, followed by another AMBA lunch on the Friday.

And both these events brought home to me how things are changing and developing in the world of romance writing.Which is funny because the image that Romances have out in the world of the press and the media is that nothing ever changes. That romances are just the same now as they were way back in 1908 when Mills & Boon first published their books. 1908. One hundred years ago, next year. The UK part of Harlequin, now known as Harlequin Mills & Boon will be celebrating its centenary all through 2008 and plans are already being made to mark this very special event.

India Grey and Abby Green ->

We were told some of the plans while we were at the AMBA lunch, with talk of a special exhibition on display all through the year, the books having a special centenary logo and other plans that can’t yet be revealed – but I’ll let you know about them here or on my own website and my blog just as soon as I hear. These will be very exciting – and so will be the brand new books that are coming up, books that are edited at Harlequin Mills & Boon in Richmond UK. And the Presents Authors dinner which Michelle Reid and I hosted the night before the AMBA lunch was something that showed how the company is growing and developing. There was a mixture of the older authors - myself, Michelle, Jacqueline Baird - and some of the newest signings - Abby Green, Christina Hollis, India Grey and Natalie Rivers, all of whom have had their first books out in the past 12 months or so or whose books are due to come to America very soon.

Abby Green again and Christina Hollis
And on Friday at AMBA and the champagne reception hosted by HMB afterwards it was the same. Veteran authors like Catherine George, Carole Mortimer and Margaret Mayo mixed with newer signings like Donna Alward (Romance) and Chantelle Shaw together with some brand new Historical authors like Annie Burrows.

One great piece of news that was announced and that I can share with you is that HMB are moving into India. Now I know that there are plenty of readers of romances in India - I have had many email messages from readers there and some of you have won my contests. But I know that actually getting hold of the books can be difficult. Hopefully this will now be easier. At the reception on Friday I met the charming and enthusiastic man who will be in charge of this new venture and he is very keen to make it work. The launch of the first books will be, if I remember rightly, in November this year and there will be six Presents/Modern novels in the first books released out there

I also heard news of new developments that will be coming up for my own line – Presents (Modern Romance in the UK) in the near future. I can’t let you in on the details yet but look out for changes from January 2008 – and as these changes will mean the publication of more of the books you love then I hope they will be changes you’ll welcome.

Sharing champagne with Chantelle Shaw

In amongst all this news and changes, there was also a very special moment for me at the reception when HMB’s Editorial Director Karin Stoecker presented me with a special pin to mark the publication of my 50th title (The Sicilian’s Red-Hot Revenge) which came out in July. This of course made me look back and reflect on the changes that have happened to the company I write for since my very first book was published way back in 1984. One thing I’ve learned since then is that publishing never stands still and that romance writing is always changing, always developing. That’s what keeps the books fresh and exciting and keeps the readers coming back for more all through the years. And for a company that will be 100 in 2008, that’s a fantastic, brilliant record. One I’m so proud to have been part of.
Receiving my 50th pin from Karin Stoecker

And I’m really looking forward to meeting the new challenges that are coming up with the dawning of Mills & Boon’s centenary year. I hope you’ll come back here – and on my personal blog and website - and join in the celebrations as they happen. And just as soon as I can tell you more about what’s happening, I will.

And I think that's me caught up - except for one thing - I know that like everyone at the Reception, you'll all want to know what that special pin looks like - so here it is - and I have to add to this a special thank you to each and every one of my readers out there because without you reading my books and buying the next one - and the next - I would never have been able to keep writing, keep selling- and so reach ths special celebration and achievement. So here's the gold pin that I'm sharing with you all because you helped me to achieve it - Thank you all so much.
I wonder what you most remember about the romance authors you read in the past. I'd love to know



Annie West said...

Hi Kate,

Thanks so much for the update from London. I do wish I'd been able to attend. One day soon, I hope! It sounds like a wonderful couple of days.

It is exciting to see the new sales initiative in India, isn't it? I'm looking forward to hearing more from there soon.

Congratulations on your special pin too. Well deserved!


Tam G. said...


Karen H said...

Congratulations on your special pin!

Laura K said...

First of all, congratulations on receiving your pin! I can't imagine writing one book (honestly) than 50.

I cut my teeth on Harlequin starting the end of my sixth grade year when my mom gave me one of her HR to read on a long car trip. Over the next decade and a half, I absolutely loved Violet Winspear and Carole Mortimer. I even became a volunteer as a teenager at my local library so that I could get "weeded" out books for free! Oh, the memories.

I stayed when Harlequin bought out Silhouette and who can forget the success story of Nora Roberts- a young woman who sent them an unsolicited manuscript. H/S took a chance on her and don't you think the world is so much richer for it?

Thanks for letting a seasoned romance reader (and proud of it) to take a trip down memory lane!

Kate Walker said...

Hi Annie - I do hope one day you'll be able to join us at an AMBA lunch. It would be great to see you there.

Tam - thank you
and Karen - thank you too. Sometimes it's hard to believe that I have actually written all those books!

Laura - thanks for your memories of reading Harlequin. Nora Roberts is sucha writing phenomenon, isn't she? An amazing number of books. And Carole Mortimer was one of my personal favourites as a reader - it was a delight and an honour for me that she was at the reception when I received my 50 books pin. She got hers many years ago!