Wednesday, December 08, 2010

Writer's Wednesday Call Story -- Vicki Essex

At Pink Heart Society, we love a call story and new Harlequin Super author Vicki Essex has a great one!

Lots of romance authors will say they owe their inspiration to hot guys; I’m probably one of the few who can say I owe my first published book to hot, sweaty guys.

See, the idea for what would be my first published book came to me while watching an Ultimate Fighting Championship match with some girlfriends.
“You should write a mixed martial arts romance,” my friend Denise said as she drooled over our favorite fighter, UFC welterweight champion Georges St-Pierre. I'd been writing for a couple of years, and after a handful of rejections I was struggling to come up with something new, something I could really sink my teeth into. On top of that, I discovered mixed martial arts and romance novels had something in common: I was constantly defending the sport’s legitimacy, popularity and success, almost as frequently as I had to champion the romance genre’s validity to those who dismissed either or both as being “trashy” and “low brow.”
Well, that just made me even more determined to write and sell this book and prove the naysayers wrong.
I wrote the first three chapters while on vacation in Las Vegas, home to the UFC's headquarters. The locale must have inspired me because six months later, my manuscript was done—the fastest book I'd ever churned out. And I knew I had a winner. I sent it off to Harlequin and held my breath.
Months later, I sat down with Victoria Curran, senior editor for Harlequin Superomance. With patience and tact, she pointed out the flaws in my story and what I should work on. It wouldn’t require a complete rewrite, but it was going to be a lot of work revising. A lot.
I consoled myself with a night of binge drinking and pizza scarfing. But once the hangover had cleared and I’d had a week to think it over, I got to work, completely changing the third act.
A few months later, my manuscript made the finals in the Toronto Romance Writers Golden Opportunity Contest. I felt like I was on the right track. And I owed the TRW a lot for being on that right track—they’d given me much needed support and encouragement since I joined three years ago.
Then, just before the Labour Day Weekend, I was called into Victoria Curran's office once more.
I steeled myself for the worst, anticipating yet another night with a large deluxe pizza and a bottle of cheap merlot to ease my heartache.
Victoria, steely eyed, leaned forward, her face a study in sobriety. “We want to buy your book.”
“ARE YOU SERIOUS?” I think I blew a few eardrums with that shriek.

I was ecstatic. I was floored. I was disbelieving. I think some days I’m still in shock. Me, a published author? I think someone must’ve clocked me good and I haven’t woken up yet.

Maybe those hot, sweaty guys did more than inspire me.

Vicki Essex has worked at Harlequin Enterprises for more than four years. Her first book, Her Son's Hero, will be available from Harlequin Superromance July 2011.
 Visit her at


  1. I love this call story, Vicki! So happy for you. :) Not many authors get their call in person. How fabulous.

  2. So well deserved, Vicki! How nerve-wracking was it working in the same building as the editor who considered your manuscript? And there I was, thinking that simply waiting for an email or phone call was tough. ;)

  3. Great call story! Can't imagine being told in person, I was a basket case just having my editor on the other end of the phone! Soraya

  4. Wow! Waiting is nerve wracking, but to have to meet the editor face to face to get the news...
    You are one brave lady. Congratulations! Loved your call story. Can't wait to read your book.

  5. Very unusual to get news (of any sort) in person like that. Congrats on doing the rewrite because they ARE a lot of work. Often times, our work is made even better by the people who "pester" us the most. Congrats to you Vicki!!