Tuesday, December 02, 2014

Tuesday Talk Time - A Date With Kate

The Pink Heart Society are delighted to wish Kate Walker a Happy Writer-y Birthday!  Especially as she has a gift of her own for one lucky commenter...

Happy Birthday to me - as a writer that is!

I’m really happy to be writing this post today because the beginning of December  marks a very important date for me. The first week in December 2014 means that it is now  -eek – 30 years since I was published for the very first ever time  by Harlequin Mills  and  Boon. (I was a very very young baby author  - honest!)

Well, it was just ‘Mills and  Boon’ then  - or so I thought. I knew so little about the publishing business that I  thought I was just being published by the UK company, Mills & Boon and  that my books were only going to appear on the shelves in WH Smiths  here in the UK.  Back in 1984 the romance world was very different – and sometimes very much the same  as they way it is now. But one of the major differences was the way that information  spread – or, rather, didn't spread – around  from editors to writers, readers and  the world of the internet anywhere.

Well, for a start I didn't have any contact with the internet. I didn’t even have a computer! I had a typewriter. And I wouldn’t have been able to buy myself one for personal use (I shared the family typewriter with my DH who used it too- for preparing his teaching notes)  if it hadn't been for a lovely old man, an Irish  poet called Ewart Milne, who gave me the cost of a new typewriter all of my own.   Every book I wrote for some years was typed out, bundled up, sent by post to my editor  . . .it sounds positively prehistoric now!  I remember late afternoon dashes to the Post Office to get my manuscript into the post  and on its way to London.

So how different was the world of Mills and Boon 1984. Well –covers for one thing. I mean, take
a look at my very first ever cover for The Chalk Line.  My hero was described as having jet black hair . . . Err – not on the cover! The original cover of The Chalk Line had a very blond hero. I suppose they thought that because they'd put him in a snow scene - as there was in the book - that was enough!  Art details were rather less careful back then. The Chalk Line – the very first ever edition of it  - only came out in the UK, in the ‘library edition’  - the hardback edition – and it was never one sale in the paperback version anywhere. Not for some years.

Then there’s the fact that it was just  a  Mills and  Boon Romance. There was no special targeting. No  Presents. No Romance, or Cherish  - or whatever.  That didn’t come until later. And it explains why at the beginning of my career I had some books published in the Presents line in America. And some in the Romance line as well. If you look at my web site, you’ll see the early books are almost equally shared between the two lines.    It was not until later that my editor told me that the UK was following the division of the lines used in America.  I caused a problem there because I was published, and successful, in both line. But I had to choose – so I chose Presents. From 1995  when No Holding Back came out  I was always in Presents; I’ve been a happy Presents writer ever since.
What else was different?   No hero POV – no ebooks – no web sites. My web site was one of the first – but I’d been writing for years before I took the plunge. I followed the example of the wonderful Liz Fielding  and I’ve always been glad I did. 

My earlier heroes were mostly Brits, with their stiff upper lips. It wasn’t until 2000 that I wrote my first ever Greek Tycoon – in Constantine’s Revenge. Fourteen years ago!  And I think he was just a millionaire, not a billionaire!   I had no sheikh as a hero until 2002 in a book that ended up with the title  Desert Affair, even though it was largely set in London in a snowstorm.  And titles – there’s another way things have changed.  My first ten years or so, I  named my books and by and large that title was accepted – so I had  Rough DiamondBroken Silence, Captive Lover – and even Chase The Dawn.  ( I made up an ‘old’ saying for that book – ‘Even on the darkest night of your life you can always chase the dawn’!)

Then – around the time that Fiancée By Mistake was published  the titles started changing – buzzwords appeared and we all know where that led.  Even now I have some problems remembering  whether my Sicilian Husband was the brother of The Sicilian in The Sicilian’s Wife – or was that The Sicilian in The Sicilian’s Red-Hot Revenge?  Buzzwords seem to have come and gone . . . but never say never to the thought of them coming back again.  Incidentally, Fiancée By Mistake was also the first book where  I ever used the hero’s point of view.

When I started out,my books were very restrained, no wonder some of them went into Romance. But once the bedroom door was opened, things were much more interesting. Back in 1984 an author had to find good reasons for the heroine to say yes to the hero – now I need to find good reasons for her to say no!

One thing I’m glad to see the back of is the way that heroes  - and some heroines  - smoked in the earlier books. My first book to go to America  was  Game of Hazard – that came out in 1986. The hero in that story smoked like a chimney. I’d never write a hero like that any more. (I gave up smoking myself around that time,  so I wasn’t going to let a ‘hero’ still puff away.)

So now, this week, I’m celebrating the 30th anniversary of my very first published  book – and I’m looking forward to the publication of my  62nd  (Olivero’s Outrageous Proposal) coming in April and working on the next one with a handsome sheikh hero who first appeared as a difficult 19 year old in A Question of Honor (or Honour if you're in the UK.)

So what about you? How long have you been reading romances?  Can you remember the first romance author who got you hooked on the genre?  

To share the celebration for my '30th birthday' I have a copy of A Question of Honour to give away to one commenter.

I don't yet know what the UK cover of my next book will look like - but I can share the Harlequin Presents cover with you for the first time today. 

My latest releases are two reissues -  first there's Kept For Her Baby which is out in the 3 in 1 By Request  called Secret Love -Child.  

And coming up next, there's the reissue of The Konstantos Marriage Demand  again in a 3 in 1 collection - His Revenge Seduction.

And the 12 Point Guide To Writing Romance is now available on Kindle

You can catch up with all of Kate's news on her website  or on her blog.  You can also find her on her author page on Facebook.

I got Ruby the kitten to help me pick winners.  Being new to this skill - and because she's young and greedy - she picked two winners not one - so  would susan1375  and Robyn Richards please contact me  - kate AT kate-walker. com  to let me know your postal addresses so I can send the books on their way.


  1. Happy anniversary Kate! Loved this piece. And love your new cover!

  2. Hi Jen - and thank you! I'm still wondering how it got to be 30 years since The Chalk Line First came out, I'm glad you like the cover.

  3. Agree, it's a great cover - and like Jen, I loved reading this piece. :-)

  4. Thanks for coming by and reading Sharon, I'm glad you like the cover - though people have been asking if my hero has a beard! The answer is no - this one doesn't . . . The one I'm working on however . . . (at the beginning anyway)

  5. Happy anniversary, Kate. I love seeing all the old covers and looking at how romances have changed over the years. As a newer writers it's so inspiring to see someone who's had a long and fabulous career. I adore the old painted covers and have a little collection of vintage M&Bs from the 70-80s.

  6. Hi Stefanie - thank you. As an 'oldie' :-) I love seeing new writers achieve their dreams and be published. (It's even better when some of them have been at one of my courses or another.) Oh dear - though - that description of covers from the 70s-80s as 'vintage'! I have a collection of 'Vintage' covers too - but mine are from the 60s-70s! :-) A friend of my mother wrote for M&B then and she inspired me to try for publication.

  7. I'm pleased to say I've read The Chalk Line. I get confused about all your Sicilians too. Congratulations.

  8. May we ask who your mother's friend was who inspired you?

  9. HI Kate! Congrats on 30 years! I'm with Fi, I want to know who the writer was that inspired you! I have been reading Harlequins in the US since the late '70's and though I can't remember the author of my first one, some of my faves back then were Anne Mather, Betty Neels (of course!) Violet Winspear, Janet Dailey and Rebecca Stratton. LOVED reading the British authors and settings, as well as the various exotic locales. Thanks to the internet I now have an extensive '70's 'vintage' collection of both the Romance line and Presents.

  10. Hi Fiona! I'm honoured to think that you've actually read The Chalk Line. I've been wondering if there are any readers who have been 'with me' since the beginning. But maybe that was that paperback edition that was published some years later? That was 1991 or so I think. Those 'Sicilian ' titles can be confusing - can't they? Even as their creators I can't quite remember which her was in which book!

  11. Hello Robyn - to answer both you and Fiona together - my mother's friend was a lady called Marguerite Lees - but she also wrote as Margaret Baumann. I have some 'vintage' copies of her books - I must bring them out and perhaps post about them in my blog. Like you Robyn, I loved so many of those British authors and Anne Mather was one of the writers who re-inspired me to write for myself when I'd let my interest in M&B drop for a while. Thank you for coming by and for your congratulations.

    1. I have read Marguerite Lees! Eons ago of course.... :O Pretty cool your mother knew her!

  12. I have Marguerite Lees "Hospital at Night" on my current vintage TBR pile. I've read several of hers and enjoyed them. My very first author was Elizabeth Ashton with Crown of Willow.

  13. I first read your books to my grandmother when she was in hospital and I have been hooked ever since.

  14. Hello Susan - what a lovely thing to say - How kind of you to read to your grandmother (I'm hoping this was some of the earlier books - or maybe the rest of the ward didn't mind!) And it means a lot to me to know that you were hooked too. Thank you for letting me know.

  15. I got Ruby the kitten to help me pick winners. Being new to this skill - and because she's young and greedy - she picked two winners not one - so would susan1375 and Robyn Richards please contact me - kate AT kate-walker. com to let me know your postal addresses so I can send the books on their way.