Industry Insider: Editor Lucy Gilmour and Medical Romance!
The eharlequin hosties are at it again - setting up more pitch sessions with editors from several of the lines this year. The next pitch coming up is for Medical Romance with Mills and Boon editor Lucy Gilmour. Lucy joins us today with some insight into the line. Thanks for being with us and welcome to The Pink Heart Society, Lucy!
What are you looking for in Medicals stories? What characteristics define the line?
Do you love drop-dead gorgeous, big-hearted doctors? Here at Romance HQ we definitely do! If you’re a fan of Grey’s Anatomy, ER, Nip/ Tuck, or House then take a peek at a Medical Romance where you’ll find our trademark devilishly alluring docs who will most definitely make your heartbeat race!
As well as the highs and lows, warmth and passions of medical life, Medicals promises heart-racing romance, with the added bonus of pulse-raising medical drama that throws our heroes and heroines together…even when they might not want to be!
For the doctors, surgeons, nurses, paramedics and midwives between our pages, it’s all about overcoming the challenges and obstacles of finding love under pressure in the demanding world of modern medicine. Readers enjoy falling in love with top-notch docs and hot-shot surgeons from around the world, and experiencing love and life in the shoes of smart, caring and beautiful medical heroines. Our stories can be intensely passionate or warm and tender; if you want to write a scorchingly sexy tale – go right ahead…or if you’d prefer to keep it warm and sweet and tiptoe away as the bedroom door shuts, that’s absolutely fine too!
Ultimately we’re looking for a range of emotionally intense reads, from the traditional to the ground breaking and promise our readers contemporary romantic relationships - set against a compelling medical backdrop. In a nutshell, we want to give the women who pick up our stories a big read in a 50,000 word book!
What sort of medical settings are you looking for? A&E/ER? Maternity? pediatrics? Would you be interested in other medical type professions? Naturopaths, physical therapists, chiropractors, researchers, dentists for example?
I would say that we’re open to absolutely any medical specialty. Maternity, paediatrics and the hospital emergency room are always well-loved but we’ve had quite a few naturopaths (often teamed up against the most cynical of alpha hero doctors!) and other different occupations too.
What we really want to see are all those enduringly popular hooks in Medicals (Miracle babies, gorgeous paediatricians, midwifery) given a fresh and contemporary twist. For example, think of the advances that have been made in the medical world in the last ten years with practises such as IVF – isn’t there just a wealth of tales just waiting to be told?
There are some specialties that will always be popular with our readers; surgeons (especially heart-surgeons – very romantic!), children’s & NICU doctors, midwives etc. – we’d love to see more of these, so have a think about what you can do with these themes that hasn’t already been done! And if there’s an area of medicine you’re particularly interesting in then give it a go; as long as you’ve got an intelligent, compassionate heroine and a hero we’ll all be raving about in the editorial office then anything goes! It’s all about finding the romance, the emotion, the drama rather than the edgy realism of medical life – really it’s about the fantasy of a romance between a lovely, smart heroine falling in love with a drop-dead gorgeous doctor.
Can the books be set anywhere in the world?
Of course - absolutely anywhere! We encourage a wide variety of settings, so let your imagination run wild. Use the setting wherever it may be to add flavour, but don’t let it take over. Again, just keep in mind that the essential ingredients of a Medical Romance are your characters, their internal emotional conflicts and that magic of watching the love story between the hero and heroine develop. After all, that’s why readers come to Harlequin Mills & Boon!
The medical detail always seems so precise. Do you have to have a medical background to write the books?
Certainly the books include some medical drama as part of their promise in that it helps to firmly set the stories in the medical world and help us to learn more about the characters. But primarily it should be used to help drive the hero and heroine’s emotional conflict forward.
Some authors do come from a medical background, although increasingly many do not! The internet allows contact with the medical world and a wealth of personal experiences can all be utilized to help you achieve believable and realistic medical drama. Medical details should be kept to a minimum, we don’t need masses of medical drama, what there is should be both contemporary and correct. We are essentially looking for romance writers rather than medical professionals to write our stories.
It’s important to remember all medical drama is within the context of a romance – therefore we are not looking for a great deal of detail. Readers are looking for an escapist read rather than a medical textbook!
What is the biggest mistake you see aspiring authors making?
Within Medicals sometimes we see too much focus on gory medical drama, or on hospital politics or the administrative ins and outs of running GP practices. Remember that first and foremost these are romances – just in a medical setting
Otherwise we see many of the same challenges as with many of our other series’ - character, conflict and clichés! At the heart of all great romances are two strong, appealing, sympathetic and three-dimensional characters. Emotional, character-driven conflict is the foundation of a satisfying romance - conflict spawns tension and excitement. Last but most definitely not least we want new authors to innovate, not imitate – throw those clichés out of the window!
Is there always a medical conflict that plays out along with the internal conflict of the characters?
It can work well to follow one or more patients through the course of the story but medical and emotional conflicts don’t have to run parallel. Just always make sure that even during your medical scenes you’re twisting and pushing your hero and heroine’s conflicts.
Does the Medical line have room for a story more Scrubs than Private Practice? (lighter stories)
We’re open to stories that take whatever tone suits the author’s voice best, be it vibrant, funny, sexy, intense, heart-wrenching, exciting, uplifting, unexpected, warm, community-focussed… If you think about it, even within shows such as Scrubs and Private Practice, different episodes can have very different tones – some are deeply heart-wrenching, and others fluffier, flirty and fun. As I’ve said above, there’s huge scope for variety within the line, which makes it so diverse and interesting to read. If you’ve got a great idea and have strong characters and interesting emotional conflict in place – go for it!
Medical TV shows are enjoying renewed popularity in the US. Are there any plans to have the Medical line go into retail as well as being available as Direct and as ebooks?
Who doesn’t love medical TV shows – McDreamy in Grey’s Anatomy and George Clooney in ER are just some of my personal favorites! If any of these delicious doctors (or others we haven’t mentioned from House or Nip/Tuck…or I know McDreamy v McSteamy has been heatedly debated on the PHS before!) then Medical Romance is definitely the place for you!
What are you looking for in the upcoming pitch session?
We’re most definitely looking for exciting new authors; from the US, Australia, the UK – or absolutely anywhere in the world – what we want are talented writers with unique, fresh voices who create compelling characters and fabulous stories that will keep readers turning the pages!
Thank you so much for having me here at the Pink Heart Society. I absolutely love Medical romances so it’s been a real pleasure to chat about them with you all.
We always love to hear from Medical readers or aspiring medical authors – what are your favourite things about Medical romances? Or are there any questions you’d like to ask that I haven’t covered here?
Wow, Lucy, THANKS for all that great info! Ok guys, now's your chance to ask Lucy any questions you might have, and also check out the links below for more information about Medicals and the upcoming pitch session at eharlequin!
FOR INFO ON THE EDITOR PITCH SESSION COMING IN MARCH: