Saturday, August 01, 2009

The World of Mills and Boon

Whenever the phrase 'romance writer' is used I bet you conjure up a particular image? For a lot of people it might be a picture of someone not unlike Barbara Cartland, reclining on a chaise lounge in a floaty pink outfit, churning out novels each and every day.

So it might come as a bit of a surprise to know that some romance writers are quite beefy men. I met a couple at an RNA writing conference a few years ago. This morning I found an online article about one called Roger Sanderson who writes as Gill Sanderson. I haven't read any of his books yet, but I recognise the name.

Read full article here:

A snippet from the article implies that Roger is not alone in his pursuit as a male in a female dominated world. Who could image a former SAS man penning novels as 'Molly Jackson'? Or even that the author of The Wizard of Oz, L. Frank Baum, penned stories for girls as 'Edith Van Dyne'?

You might be wondering why I am writing about such things this morning? I accidentally stumbled upon an online extract from a book which I think is 'The Story of Mills and Boon'. If interested, you can view it here:

One of the things mentioned is that the firm confirms an important point for would-be authors in their guidelines that they are in the business of entertainment and that escapism needs to be based on reality.

That's why I am often puzzled when people speak of a Mills and Boon World as if it is some super duper haven where everything goes exceedingly well.

Anyone who has read a Mills and Boon book will know that that's not the case at all. For from it. For a start for a romance story to work there needs to be some sort of conflict and quite often the hero and heroine don't hit it off to begin with. And even if they do, there tends to be a period of time towards the end of the book when the Black Moment occurs. This is the moment when all appears lost. The reader may get the impression that the couple will go their separate ways but wills them to stay together. Of course, all is not lost. It never is in a Mills and Boon book. That's the beauty of it. The reader needs the Happy Ever After Ending or else will feel cheated. It's even been said in its time that reading one of these books was better than taking a Valium. I can well believe it.

But to get back to what people say of this Mills and Boon World. Even on the TV programme, Loose Women, this week it was mentioned in such a way as if to imply that one of these novels is a long way from reality. I disagree. More so now than ever do they reflect the modern world of romance. Some of them have mentioned terrorism, drugs and murder. They aren't all safe little stories for gullible little women. The heroines these days are often independent types with careers and know what they want from a man, not content to just lie back and think of England.

I say to these people who have a hazy vision of this genre, read a Mills and Boon book to find out what they're really like. Apparently 4 in 10 women read them [although I suspect many don't admit to it] and 11 million M&B novels are sold in this country.

It's strange though, why do I appear to be the only person who browses that particular shelf at my local WHS? Do women sidle along in disguise, looking both ways to ensure they aren't being watched, then sneak one from the shelf hiding it under a copy of Gardener's Weekly as they slink to the counter to pay for it?

Let's be up front about it. I'm coming out of the closet.

"My name is Lynette and I'm a Mills and Boon Junkie..."

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