I should probably start by saying I’m not sixty years old – this is a different sixty I’m celebrating. So please forgive me for being a bit self-indulgent. (And blame my editor. She’s the one who said I had to do something about it. Which is why there’s a Facebook party going on today as well – there will be a link so, please go and say hello to my lovely author friends!
The story starts back in 2000, when I had a newborn and a very lively toddler, and I really, really wanted to write for Mills and Boon. I’d tried in my twenties and got nowhere (ahem – I now realise that a long letter encouraging you is, um, something you should pay attention to rather than assume it means ‘go away and stop annoying us’ – but back then I was a little more clueless).
And then, a couple of days before Christmas, Chloe was six weeks old and coughing. I was writing an article for one of the baby magazines on bronchiolitis and wondering, am I being paranoid or is she showing all the symptoms of bronchiolitis rather than just a nasty cold? I had a bad feeling about it, so I took her to see my GP – who immediately wrote a letter and handed it to me, and told me to take her straight to hospital.
So. One baby in hospital with bronchiolitis, on oxygen therapy, for a whole week, and this included her first Christmas. One panicky mum who knew too much for comfort. And the only way I could get through it was to sit at her bedside and start writing my first Medical romance.
My agent loved it, Mills and Boon loved it, and A BABY OF HER OWN was accepted on Chloe’s first birthday and published on her second birthday (and Ottakar’s in Norwich gave me a fabulous launch party – you can’t see them in this pic, but there were balloons and flowers and I felt like a total superstar!).
I had to get a new name – because I was writing medical non-fiction, my editor wanted a split between my fiction and non-fiction. She asked me fro ‘something classic and English’. So I sat down with Chloe’s godmothers. Thomas Hardy was my specialist subject in the third year, and the most popular name in our year was Kate. So I became Kate Hardy.
And I was thrilled to discover that my books were translated into foreign languages! (Here’s the very first one with all its translations – English hardback and paperback, French, Japanese, English reprint, Italian, Finnish and Swedish.)
One of the best thrills was having a Manga (Japenese cartoon edition). This is THE DOCTOR’S ROYAL LOVE CHILD – and I love the fact that they kept Dragan’s glasses, and the dog!
Over the years I’ve made some wonderful friends (some of whom are sadly no longer with us – I particularly miss Medical authors Maggie Kingsley, Margaret McDonagh and Sheila Danton). Some of the friends are worldwide, and the nicest thing is that if I meet one of my author mates from New Zealand (waves to Louisa George, my blog twin) or Australia (waves to Amy Andrews and Carol Marinelli) for the very first time, they’re as lovely in person as they are online. (I’m not ignoring the US contingent here. I’m meeting Barbara Wallace in London this Thursday with some of the Cherish authors, and I know it’s going to be as great as when we met up with Michelle Douglas all the way from Aus last year.) I really can’t believe how lucky I am to count such talented people as my friends – they’re not just my colleagues, and there aren’t many jobs where you can say that.
In fact… here are some of the Med authors at the Meridien last month. (LTR Scarlet Wilson, Caroline Anderson, Kate Hardy, Louisa George.)
I’ve also had some wonderful editors – here I am with Senior Medicals Editor Sheila Hodgson in 2006 at the Savoy in London, when I was first shortlisted for the RNA Romance Prize with my Medical Romance WHERE THE HEART IS.
In fact, I still have same wonderful editor (but because I write for two lines, I have two editors) – this is in the Meridien in London last month with Charlotte Mursell and Sheila Hodgson.
The whole point of this was sixty – and this week my sixtieth Mills and Boon is being released! IT STARTED WITH NO STRINGS is set in a tropical medicine department, and it’s also known as ‘Plague Squirrels’ because of a certain medical case. (Certain people – who had better remain nameless – egged me on hugely. There might have been speculation about whether my editor’s revision letter would start with ‘lose the squirrel’. But, y’know, authors need to have fun as well…)
Sixty books published in 12 years – where has the time gone?
A lot of my author mates are coming to celebrate with me in a worldwide party on Facebook on Monday 6 October (thank you, Lynne, for getting my dates right!) – the link is here, so please come over and talk to us. There are books on offer, and other things as well… ;)
But, most important, thank you to my readers, my editors and my fellow writers for making the last sixty books (and twelve years) so fantastic. I really appreciate you all.