My ‘call’ from Harlequin started in July 2013 and ended in January 2015! Let me explain…
I already had a few historical romances published with a small company, but I wanted to write a gothic romance, encompassing all the best elements of the tradition--brooding, atmosphere, setting as character, dark secrets--with some newer touches including increased edginess and sensuality.
I had no idea, when I started writing it, that Harlequin were looking for gothics. I’d finished writing and was just polishing my book, when, quite by chance, I read an interview with Malle Vallik at Harlequin, who said she wanted to see more gothic romances.
I submitted my book and sat back to wait the 12 to 14 weeks Harlequin said on their website was standard. Exactly a week after I submitted it, I was in work and checked my phone. I had two missed calls from an unknown number and a voicemail. I never gave Harlequin a thought.
The voicemail message started: ‘This is Malle Vallik, calling from Harlequin in Toronto about your submission which we loved …’ I had to listen to it about five times before it sank in.
That was the start of my career with Harlequin. I had five gothic romances published with Shivers, which was part of HarlequinE, the digital only line. Sadly, HarlequineE came to an end and I thought my time as a Harlequin author had ended with it.
Then a wonderful lady named Denise Zaza, who is one of the Harlequin Senior Editors, asked if I had considered writing paranormal romance. I hadn’t. I had always considered paranormal a difficult genre to write. Like science fiction, you have the freedom of world building, but within that you have a huge responsibility to your readers to get it right and make it work.
Anyway, Denise’s question got me thinking. Could I write paranormal? More importantly for me, could I write with a North American voice? Harlequin Nocturne, their paranormal line, may be set anywhere in the world, but I’ve read enough of them to know the voice is American. I’m English.
There’s only one way to find out if you can write something. Just write it. A few months later, Otherworld Protector, my first paranormal romance, was born. I submitted it to Harlequin Nocturne and began the lengthy waiting process all over again.
My second Harlequin ‘call’ wasn’t a call at all. It was an email, again just a week after submission. It was from Denise Zaza saying that she and Ann Leslie Tuttle, the Senior Editor who oversees the Nocturne line at Harlequin, both loved my ‘wonderful’ and ‘fascinating’ story. They wanted to offer me a three book contract. Yes, three. After I picked myself up off the floor, I naturally accepted!
I now have five books contracted in the Otherworld Series and also have a gothic Nocturne (gothic, my first love!) coming out in December 2016. I also have three books contracted with Harlequin Romantic Suspense.
Oh, and I have a six book series coming out with St Martin’s Press in 2017 in their digital only romance line SMP Swerve. Guess what? It’s paranormal. Turns out Denise was right. I can do paranormal!
I hope this long-winded call story highlights the roller-coaster that happens in this business. My story took me through the high of that first call from Malle to the low of HarlequinE coming to an end all the way back up again to my first contract with Nocturne and even higher again now I’m published with two Harlequin lines. The message is clear ‘never give up, no matter how bleak things may look’.
And on that subject…while I was writing Otherworld Protector, I was diagnosed with a brain tumour. I’m lucky. My tumour is low grade and slow growing. I tell people this story to give the message that you should go for your goals, no matter what life throws your way. Climb the mountain, run the marathon…write the book.
Claiming her felt like his destiny…but could prove to be his ultimate undoing.
Desperate to flee a horrific arranged marriage, Princess Tanzi turned to the only man who could help. Lorcan Malone, infamous necromancer, had vowed to come to her aid whenever she needed him. And even as they traveled from the mortal world into the fantastical Otherworld, Tanzi knew her true need ran deeper than just a rescue.
She was his enemy's daughter. A renegade like Lorcan had no business craving a Fae princess, one intended for a greater calling. Yet he was powerless to resist the pull to do more than protect Tanzi…