|From Diane Gaston's blog|
Several authors who knew her well agreed to write a few words in appreciation.
From India Grey Harlequin Presents Author:
On December 31st the romance world didn’t just say goodbye to 2011, but also to one of the biggest, brightest and most beloved stars in its galaxy. Penny Jordan had been privately holding her own against cancer for a long time, even when she knew it was a fight she wasn’t going to win. She finally submitted to it last week, with the grace and dignity that were the cornerstones of her character.
It’s impossible to know where to begin to sum up her life and her achievements as she was so many things to so many people, and she accomplished so much. In that respect the figures speak for themselves – in the 32 years since her first novel Duchess in Disguise was published under the pseudonym Caroline Courtney, she wrote over 200 novels under 5 different pen names and sold in excess of 100 million copies across the world. (Gosh. I wonder how many hours of reading pleasure that equals?)
Numbers like that don’t stack up by themselves: Penny was jaw-droppingly hard-working and the romantic imagination that enabled her to create her glorious stories was coupled with a steely professionalism. In 1985 alone she had 17 books published, written on an old typewriter balanced on a card table in the sitting room of the home she shared with her husband, Steve. (She said he always used to be able to tell when she was writing a sex scene as the clicking of her fingers on the keys would become even more frantic.)
The essence of Penny the person is harder to encapsulate. It would be impossible to talk about her without mentioning elegance and glamour – both of which she had in effortless spades – but if she could hear me say that she’d wave a dismissive hand and tell me not to talk rubbish. Because the second thing you noticed about her was that she was incredibly down to earth. Given how phenomenally successful and well-loved she was, she could have been forgiven for being just a tiny-weeny bit complacent, deep down. But she wasn’t, not one bit. There was an undercurrent of insecurity and vulnerability in her that was as endearing as it was incomprehensible. Her success only made her more conscious of her responsibility to her readers, and she had a genuine and generous desire to share it with others. She devoted considerable amounts of time and energy to encouraging and mentoring aspiring authors, as Susan Stephens and I – amongst many others – can gratefully attest. Like a modern-day Fairy Godmother, she changed things for the better.
|Beth Kendrick admiring one of Penny's fabulous shoes|
During even the toughest times in her own life her capacity for hard work didn’t desert her – perhaps it even kept her going. But not only did she keep writing, she also managed to keep on top of the market (and the bestseller lists) by adapting her stories and her characters to suit the mood of the times. She did this quite naturally – by reading newspapers and magazines voraciously, collecting snippets to spin into stories. She did it by people-watching – whether it was on the elegant Via dei Tornabuoni in her beloved Florence, or in a coffee shop in the small Cheshire market town where she lived – and just by engaging in conversation, both in real life and online, which she did with irrepressible interest. She adored fashion and could shop for Britain (especially with the Mses Stephens or Kendrick as her partners in crime!) and her love of clothes and shoes and jewellery echoes through her books.
|From Lucy Monroe's photo album|
Sandra Martin Harlequin Presents:
We've lost a wonderful writer and a true friend. If you knew Penny through her books, you probably imagine her as feminine, beautiful, elegant, determined and strong. That's exactly what she was like in person. Penny never let life defeat her. She kept to that to the end, by leaving this world with amazing dignity and grace.
Michelle Styles Harlequin Historical author:
Penny Jordan has been a huge influence on me. First of all I loved her books and they provided an escape from university reading, work and then a lifeline to home when I first moved to the UK. It may seem strange as she was from the UK but Harlequin (Mills and Boon) made those first few months bearable as they were familiar. Later when I lay sick in hospital with gall stones, a lady in the next bed told me you couldn't go wrong with A Penny Jordan and I knew the sort of books I wanted to write books you could turn to in times of trouble or need and somehow find the strength to carry on after escaping. Still later, I got to know Penny via several yahoo loops and even had the pleasure of meeting her on occasion. She was unfailingly kind and patient. In short she was the sort of author any young author could look up to. She set a very high standard and her like will not be seen again. I feel very honoured to have known her.
Please feel free to add any personal thoughts or remembrances of Penny.