Friday, November 30, 2007

Why I Love Writing for Harlequin Historicals

Up next in Pink Heart Society's series on why authors love the line they write for is Historical's author Michelle Willingham...before we get to that, let's all take a minute to congratulate Michelle on the latest addition to her family, baby James Patrick!! Now, on with the show..

Why I Enjoy Writing for Harlequin Historicals

I have always loved historical romance. In fact, the very first romance I read as a young teenager was a historical romance titled On the Night of the Seventh Moon by Victoria Holt. Since then, I've devoured the genre, and I own at least two hundred historical romances. It has always been a natural fit for me.

Many people advised me not to write historicals when I first started writing romance. "The genre is dead," I was told. "If you want to be published, you have to write a contemporary." But no matter what everyone else said, I believed in my heart that I would always be a historical author. And sure enough in May 2007, my first book, Her Irish Warrior, was published by Harlequin Historicals.

A variety of time periods . . .

From Victorian gothics to sensual medievals, the world of historical romance is full of variety. Harlequin has especially been open to new time periods—everything from ancient Rome and American westerns, to Renaissance Italy and traditional Regency England. There are so many choices, and editors are always on the lookout for new stories. Each month, there is at least one Regency, a western, a medieval, and another time period offered to readers.

A sense of place . . .

When I wanted to try a non-traditional location for my own medievals, Harlequin embraced the idea of Ireland as a setting. As long as the setting complements the storyline, international places are always welcome. The romances are character-centered, with strong emotional plot lines. Although the stories are grounded within history, the romance must always come first.

At the same time, world building plays a key role. I have the freedom to build up my characters and their families, continuing storylines throughout more than one book. I've written three stories about the MacEgan brothers (Her Irish Warrior, The Warrior's Touch, and Her Warrior King), and with each book, I've enjoyed adding to the family saga.

There is truly something for everyone within Harlequin Historicals, whether readers want a sexy Irish warrior or a sweet Regency with a gentleman hero. You can escape to another world of adventurous knights, dance with a handsome duke, or be rescued by a handsome cowboy. But best of all, you can fall in love with a fairytale hero and truly be carried off into the sunset. Romantic fantasies are a huge part of historical romances, and each and every book strives to fulfill readers' desires.

Michelle's next book in the MacEgan Brothers series, Her Warrior King, will be released in January. Visit her website at: for more details.


  1. Because Michelle W is busy with her wonderful baby, she probably has not had time to read the PW on the Romance genre.
    And MichelleW's instincts about historicals were spot on. (Readers are very lucky as her Irish warriors are scrummy)
    It goes to show that following your own instincts can be better than following some supposed trend. The message from Publisher's Weekly is that Historicals are alive and well. They have never been *dead*
    Good quality writing will always attract readers.

  2. Congrats on baby James, Michelle!

    I love historicals. I am always in awe of historical authors and all the hard work they put into going back in time. Some of my favourite books of all time are historical romances.

  3. Congrats on baby James, Michelle!

    I love historicals. I am always in awe of historical authors and all the hard work they put into going back in time. Some of my favourite books of all time are historical romances.

  4. Ooops - not sure why that published twice.

  5. Michelle--I would agree with PW that historicals were never dead. There was a great deal of growth in the contemporary and paranormal markets for a while, and I think that's why steady-earners like historicals were overlooked. Plus, every writer has to find the genre of her heart. Writing to fulfill a market need will never take you very far.

    Donna--thank you! Little James is a blessing to us. :)

  6. Hi Michelle!
    I hope your little one is letting you sleep at night?
    A few years ago I too was told that Historicals are dead, but like you I am very glad they are not! I love them, and what I like best about Harlequin Historicals is that the series is large enough to let writers use a wide variety of styles and subject matter.
    Great cover for your next one, by the way!
    Best wishes

  7. I think people will always read historicals. Who doesn't like to be transported back in time and confronted with a real-live fairy-tale-esque tale. It's what I love most about Regencies.

  8. Michelle, firstly, congratulations on James Patrick's arrival. I'm sure he's just as gorgeous as you are ;-) Can't wait for your next book! Long live the historical!