Sunday, June 06, 2010

Old Favourites by Kate Walker

Some sad news that I received this week started me thinking and remembering.

The sad news was that the lovely Elizabeth Oldfield, a fabulous writer for Harlequin Presents in the past a a dear friend, finally lost her battle with cancer and died at the end of May.

Elizabeth Oldfield was a great writer whose books I loved. I remember how, when I was trying to learn my craft, working towards getting published, I would always pounce on one of her novels knowing how much I would enjoy it and how much I would learn from it. I could never write like her - she had a wonderful light touch, often dryly humorous, that was not my style but I enjoyed it her novels so very much.
She was also one of the authors who when I first went to any of the social events that brought M&B authors together and was desperately nervous, not knowing anyone, Elizabeth was one of the very first to welcome me into the group, talk to me about my work and make me feel at home. From then onwards I was lucky enough to consider her as a friend and we exchanged letters where she told me all about her wonderful husband, her loving family and later the grandchildren she adored.
I still have some of Elizabeth's books on my 'keeper' shelf and this week, to remember her, I piecked one of them, Love's Prisoner (April 1994), to reread - and enjoy all over again. I remembered how when I first read it, I had told Elizabeth that if I didn't like her so much, I would have hated her as she had used the plot that I had wanted to write - and written it so well that I liked her version better than my own. She just laughed and said that great minds think alike.

It was a lovely, if bitter-sweet trip down memory lane, recalling Elizabeth's warmth, wit - and her talent as a writer, but it was when I'd finished the book and looked at the back pages that I started thinking on a different track.

Because then, as now, one of those pages listed 'Coming Next Month' with a list of titles and authors that were to be published in the next month's line up. And I read the list of names with a mixture of feelings. It was just 16 years since that book came out but some of the authors have lasted, some have disppeared, stopped writing, some have sadly died, and others I just don't even remember at all.
The authors listed were:
Helen Bianchin - Passion's Mistress
Emma Darcy - The Upstairs Lover
Charlotte Lamb Body and Soul
Betty Neels -Waiting for Deborah
Sandra Field - Wildfire
Diana Hamilton - In Name Only
Rosalie Ash - An Imported Wife
Jenny Cartwright - Blameless Desire
Sally Heywood - Master of Destiny
Lucy Keane - Dance to the Devil's Tune
Barbara McMahon - Living for Love
Alex Ryder - Dark Avenger
Shirley Kemp - When Strangers Meet
Kirsty McCallum - Past Imperfect
Laurey Bright - Jacinth
Miriam Macgregor - Heir to Glengyle

I wonder how many of those you can remember?

The first 3 were real favourites of mine - still are. I used to enjoy Sandra Field's book - Charlotte Lamb's books too. Sadly she, Betty Neels and Diana Hamilton are now no longer with us.
Barbara McMahon is still writing - for Harlequin Romance - and Laurey Bright was a pseudonym used by Presents author Daphne Clair. Looking the others up on Fantastic Fiction it seems that Master of Destiny was Sally Heywood's 17th and last book, Miriam Macgregor wrote her last book in 1999, Rosalie Ash in 1998. I couldn't find Lucy Keane or Jenny Cartwright.

I remember Alex Ryder - whose seconfd book is in this list. He only wrote 3 more. Yes - that's right - he. I met Alex at the very first author day that Mills & Boon organised in London years ago - I remember he was a small, bearded Scotsman - and I can still recall the look on his face when, discussing the things that didn't sell well in romance, one sentior editor listed ' men with beards and Scotland'!

So all this started me recalling other authors I've loved and how many of them are still writing - how man y not. Witchstone by Anne Mather was the the book that revived my love of romance after I'd let it drop. I used to love to read Sara Craven and Robyn Donald( still do), Sara Wood, Mary Wibberley . . . .

I have to admit that this wander down memory lane made me want to go and find some more of my stored 'keepers' from the old days and curl up in a chair and reread so many of them. If only I had time!

What about you? Do you have favourite authors/books from the past? Which ones would you like to reread? Which authors did you use to read when you first got hooked on romance - are they still writing or do you miss them and wish they were still creating wonderful new books?

Kate’s latest USA title is The Konstantos Marriage Demand, still available in Presents Extra.
In the UK, her By Request 3 in 1 volume Claimed by The Sicilian contains reprints of three of her best-selling titles – The Sicilian’s Wife, Sicilian Husband, Blackmailed Wife, and the Sicilian’s Red-Hot Revenge.

You can find all the details on Kate’s website and the most up to date stuff is on her blog.


Pat Cochran said...

Betty Neels plus your fave three
are among my favorite Presents
authors! In fact, in one of my
closets: a box of the first 100+
Presents issued. I'm going to have
to find them and do me some re-
reading this summer! Thanks, the
trip down Memory Lane is greatly
appreciated! Condolences to the
world on the loss of Elizabeth Oldfield!

Pat Cochran

Mary Kirkland said...

It's sad when someone we love or someone we have come to know through the internet dies.

Thanks for the wonderful blog post and remembering some of those titles brought a smile to my face. The very first romance novel I read was Once In Paris by Diana Palmer. I still buy every single book she writes and hardly ever even read the back first.

Barbara Bretton said...

I'm so sorry to learn about Elizabeth Oldfield's passing. Your post sent me running upstairs to my keeper shelf. A score of Betty Neels, THE LOVE BATTLE by Violet Winspear, and PAGAN ENCOUNTER by Charlotte Lamb. Early 80s romance didn't get much better than that.

Michele L. said...

I have many books on my keeper shelves. Among them are Vicki Lewis Thompson, Stephanie Bond, Lucy Monroe, Karen Anders, Annie West, among many others. I didn't discover Harlequin until like 10 years ago when I turned 40. I was into fantasies and mysteries when I was younger so I missed out on all those wonderful authors! I will have to scour book sales for them!

Laurie G said...

Penny Jordon,Lynne Graham, Sandra Marton, Sandra Field,Carole Mortimore, Margaret Way, Lyndsay Stephens, Helen Biachin, Rachel Lyndsey, Margaret Mayo,Sara Woods,Lucy Monroe, Sandra Craven, Sandra Chastain,Sandra Heath,, Cathy Williams, Betty Neels, Susan Stephens...

Laurie G said...

OOPS Sara Craven

Laurie G said...

I forgot Sharon Kendrick, Miranda Lee and Susan Napier.

I recently read Daphne Clair, Susan Stephens, Jenny Lucas, Cathy Williams, Melanie Milbourne,Lucy Gordon and Lucy Monroe. I love the Presents line up of authors.