The RNA has also announced it's shortlist for the romance prize which goes to the best category romance (books published monthly). It is fitting that in Mills and Boon's centenary year, they've swept the board on the shortlist.
I'm also really pleased to see fellow RNAers on the list - particularly Kate Hardy, who was one of the first friends I made at the RNA and who gave the most brilliantly funny talk about writing medical romances at the first conference I attended. And for those who still think M&B is about heaving bosoms and chaste kisses, go and read Julie Cohen and discover just how modern and up to date they are.
I know that M&B isn't too everyone's taste - but boy do they know how to entertain and have been doing it successfully for a hundred years, which is very neat.
And to those who would disparage the genre, I always say read Lady Oracle by Margaret Atwood. The heroine writes Gothic Romances in her spare time, and describes her work as being like building castles in the air for the girls she went to school with whose dreams of riding off into the sunset with a handsome prince ended up with them having their arms in the kitchen sink. Mills and Boon give a lot of pleasure to millions of women around the world. And I for one am never going to argue with that.
PS. And to anyone who thinks a) it's easy and b)it's formulaic. a) No. It's not easy (I've tried) and b) there is no formula - the only rule I was given when I was trying to write for them was to keep the hero and heroine on the page for 90% of the time, which is fantastically difficult. I'm not a natural M&B writer, but I know lots of brilliant writers who are, and six of them are on this list, so all power to their elbow. And may the best woman win...
MILLS & BOON SCOOPS SHORTLIST
FOR ROMANCE PRIZE 2008
Thursday 17th January 2008
In their centenary year, publishers Harlequin, Mills & Boon have a full showing in the shortlist for the only prize for category romance awarded in the UK. The Romantic Novelists’ Association awards the Romance Prize each year alongside the award for Romantic Novel of the Year.
Category romance is defined as books published in a monthly cycle, which concentrate on the romantic relationship. Mills & Boon novels are read all over the world by millions of women. This year their authors stormed the shortlist, beating several other publishers into the top six.
The shortlisted titles are:
The Secret Life of Lady Gabriella - Liz Fielding
Driving him Wild - Julie Cohen
Her Parenthood Assignment - Fiona Harper
English Lord, Ordinary Lady - Fiona Harper
The Mediterranean Rebel’s Bride - Lucy Gordon
Breakfast at Giovanni’s - Kate Hardy
Fiona Harper, whose double listing is a coup for the RNA’s New Writer’s Scheme, said: ‘I'm so excited. One book on the shortlist was a long shot. Two was something I didn't imagine in my wildest daydreams.’
Unique to the RNA, the New Writer’s Scheme provides a critiquing service by published members to help writers new to the genre. Work considered good enough receives a second read and may be passed on to publishers. Fiona came through the scheme to win the annual prize in 2006 with Blind-Date Marriage.
Kate Hardy, who was shortlisted for the Romance Prize in 2006 is ‘absolutely thrilled. I've had a rough year, so this was a real bright spot. And to be shortlisted with my 25th title for M&B in M&B's centenary year is just fantastic.’
Julie Cohen, another New Writer’s Scheme graduate, is equally thrilled, as her book is just coming out in the US. Of Driving Him Wild the judging panel said: 'An unusual beginning leads into a passionately sexy story.’ Julie commented, ‘Pass the Champagne!’
Previous Romance Prize winner Liz Fielding was also nominated for an American RITA last year. The panel thought the characters in The Secret Life of Lady Gabriella were 'realistic, flawed and human.'
Lucy Gordon, who was also shortlisted for the Prize in 2006 and has won two RITAs, is now on her 42nd book for Mills & Boon. The panel felt there was ‘something special’ about The Mediterranean Rebel’s Bride.
The winner of the Romance Prize 2008 will be decided by the judging panel, this year comprising authors Zoë Barnes, Trisha Ashley and bestseller Katie Fforde. The prize will be presented at the RNA Awards Lunch on 4th February at the Royal Garden Hotel in Kensington.
For further information about the Romantic Novelists’ Association Romance Prize 2008, contact Katrina Power at Midas Public Relations on 020 7590 0802