I am absolutely thrilled to be kicking off my series of interviews with the winners of the Romantic Novelists’ Association’s 2021 Romantic Novel Awards by welcoming the marvellous Kate Hardy to the blog.
Kate, congratulations on winning the Liberta Books Shorter Romantic Novel Award in the Romantic Novel Awards 2021 with your novel A Will, A Wish and A Wedding and thank you very much for agreeing to appear on my blog during the entry period for the 2022 awards.
Thank you very much for having me!
You were clearly very emotional when your name was announced as the winner on the night of the awards. Have you come back down to earth yet? Just how much does winning this award mean to you?
I’m just about back down to earth now 🙂 Winning the award means everything — I think most of the writers I know doubt themselves, and I’ve had a few months recently where really I’ve doubted myself. Winning the award reassures me that I’m doing something right!
You have been writing books for Mills and Boon for twenty years and this is your 90th novel. It is a huge achievement to have sustained a career for that length of time. Why do you love being a Mills and Boon author?
Thank you for the compliment. I love writing M&Bs because they’re the kind of books that make the world a brighter place and give people an escape and a bit of belief in happy endings — this last eighteen months in particular, I think we’ve all needed that. A letter a reader sent me some years ago was the real icing on the cake for me; she said that when she’s having a rough day, she reads one of my books because she knows she’ll end it feeling that the world is a good place again. Being able to do that for someone is just wonderful.
It is a tough discipline for a writer to fully develop a romantic story arc within the confines of the lower word count demanded by this type of novel. What draws you to the format of the shorter novel and how do you stop yourself rambling on (asking for a friend!)?
I like the challenge! Though I do moan about it sometimes (when my editor makes me kill off most of my secondary characters, cough cough). To stop yourself rambling: keep the descriptions short, keep secondary characters to a minimum, and remember that the book is all about the emotional journey of your characters — if what you’ve written doesn’t move that journey forwards, then it needs cutting!
You are clearly a success story in this genre, one that is sometimes looked down upon by people who have never attempted to write in it, but I know those who have tried say it is not as easy as you make it look, and there are strict requirements needed for a successful Mills and Book title. Do you have any tips for anyone who would love to write for this publisher?
Quite often, the people who sneer about M&Bs haven’t actually read one, so they’re missing out on a treat! M&Bs are short novels with a strong character arc — our characters definitely learn to grow and compromise during the book — and a happy ending (that’s it as far as the strict requirements go). If you want to write one, I’d recommend that you read a few of the most recent books in each line (True Love, Medical, Modern and Historical are the main UK lines) and work out which line you enjoy reading most: that’s the type your voice is likely to fit best. You need a conflict that can be sustained for a whole book (if the hero and heroine can solve it just by talking, the conflict’s not strong enough). Start the book at a point of change and introduce the conflict; dig deeply into the characters’ motivations; give us a point where we think it’s not going to work out; and then show us the characters changing so they can resolve their conflict and reach a happy ending.
Could you tell me a little bit about A Will, A Wish and A Wedding and how the idea for this award-winning novel came about?
It started with a trip to Norwich Castle Museum when I was very small. Margaret Fontaine was a Victorian lepidopterist and her collection used to be showcased in the museum – I particularly loved the blue butterflies. Originally the book was going to be a bit of a ghost story, but my editor said no; we compromised with the idea of matchmaking from beyond the grave, and I got to write about my butterflies! So my lepidopterist heroine Alice is left a house that she could make into an education centre and butterfly house. (I had a lot of fun doing the research — locally in Norfolk, in exactly the places I mention in the book, and then talking my best friend into a research trip to the Horniman Butterfly House is London.) I wanted the hero to be able to bring something to the project as well (hence being an architect), but I also wanted him to be very suspicious of the heroine. When Hugo and Alice start to work together, they realise that they’ve got completely the wrong idea about each other. Hence the will, a wish… and you’ll have to read it to find out how the wedding fits in! (The proposal is definitely a bit different…)
I have seen this book referred to in some reviews as ‘eco-romance.’ Is this a new genre we will be seeing more of? Is it something you deliberately set out to write? Are you blazing a trail here and will we see more of it from you?
The book’s primarily about love, though there is an eco background with the rewilding project. I’m not sure it’s a new genre; it’s maybe more likely that, over the last few months of lockdown, we’ve all become a bit more aware of our surroundings and maybe we’re seeing that in what we read.
What is coming up from you next in your writing? Do you have a new book coming out soon?
I have a duet out in August: Second Chance with her Guarded GP and Baby Miracle for the ER Doc. It’s about twin brothers; one of them needs a kidney transplant, and the other gives his brother a kidney. It means the end of an engagement for the GP, and the daredevil emergency doctor is forced to do the one thing that’s a real four-letter word for him: rest. But while they recuperate from the operation they meet a nurse practitioner and an emergency doctor who change everything.
Thank you so much for answering my questions, Kate, it’s been an absolute pleasure.
Kate’s award-winning book, A Will, A Wish and a Wedding is available now and you can buy a copy here.
Watch out for my reviews of all the 2021 RONA award-winning novels coming later in the summer.
Will an unexpected legacy…
…lead to wedding bells?
When Hugo Grey’s aunt leaves her house to Alice Walters – a complete stranger! — he is baffled. Especially as the will states Hugo must help Alice convert it into a butterfly centre! He and Alice clash over everything, except his attraction to the captivatingly feisty butterfly expert which is hard to ignore…
About the Author
Kate Hardy is an award-winning author of more than 90 books for Harlequin Mills & Boon. She’s won the RNA Liberta Books Shorter Fiction Awards three times (formerly Romance Prize and RoNA Rose): for ‘A Will, a Wish and a Wedding’ (2021), ‘Bound By a Baby’ (2014) and ‘Breakfast at Giovanni’s’ (2008).
She lives in Norwich in the east of England with her husband, two children, two springer spaniels (Archie and Dexter), and too many books to count. She’s a bit of a nerd who loves music, the theatre, ballet, history and cooking, and adores anything Italian. She loves doing research, particularly if it’s hands-on and means experimenting with cooking. Reviewers say that her books are full of warmth, heart and charm – and also that you’ll learn something new and interesting from them!
Connect with Kate:
Facebook: Kate Hardy Author