Harlequin Mills & Boon Medical Romance Novels

Remembering Margaret Barker

We’re taking some time today to remember a wonderful author and friend.  Margaret Barker, author of over 60 titles for Harlequin/Mills and Boon Medical Romance, passed away earlier this year.  Writers Kate Hardy and Caroline Anderson, and Senior Editor Sheila Hodgson share their memories of Margaret, and Kate has also shared three photographs (Kate is the lady behind the lens in the first two).

Caroline Anderson

caroline and margaret
Margaret and Caroline

I first met Margaret in the early 1990s as my first book hit the shelves, after I’d been asked to do an interview on local radio with Mary Lyons, who had been writing romances for Mills & Boon for some time.  It was a hilarious interview, and afterwards Mary invited me to lunch in Colchester with another author, Margaret Barker, who also wrote Medicals.  It was a fabulous lunch, and Margaret then invited me to her house for an author ‘do’.  What a great introduction to life as a real author!  We had a marvellous lunch cooked for us by Margaret’s charming husband John, and it was a great day.  I saw Margaret frequently after that, at theirs, or at Mills & Boon functions, and it was always a joy to see her and John who often accompanied her.  On one occasion Margaret and I did a library talk somewhere near St Albans.  We dragged our husbands along, too, which of course involved lunch as well, which I began to realise seems to be a feature of author get-togethers!

Margaret came to London every year for our annual Author lunch, usually accompanied by John until his untimely death in 2006, and then she continued to come alone, still every bit as vibrant and elegant and funny as ever.  Then bit by bit she herself became more frail, until her osteoporosis was so bad she was unable to make the journey alone.

She had countless fractures but brushed them aside and carried on, and it never dimmed her spirit, she never lost her sense of humour, her charm, her wicked twinkle, her elegance or glamour.  She’ll be sorely missed, not least by her large and very close family of whom she was always so proud.

Rest in peace, my friend, and give my love to John.  I’m glad you’re together again at last.

Sheila Hodgson

margaret, sheila, caroline
Margaret, Sheila and Caroline

I was Margaret Barker’s editor for many years, and she was always a lady of style and glamour, the soul of any party, spirited, a little naughty (loved bubbles) but always so wonderfully genuine and charming with it.  But it was just part of the wonderful exuberance and joy of life that was essentially Margaret.  She approached every turn with positivity and grace.  She was never afraid of doing something different, she loved travel, lived in France, and did everything from nursing, teaching, writing and was also a mother of three, her family, including her many grandchildren were at the heart of everything for Margaret.

I remember she used to love to meet me for lunch at the Royal Overseas League, where she would relish chatting about her next storyline, she would jump on every idea we discussed and make it into something wonderful. And I’ll never forget the first time I met her after the death of her husband, she talked about him with such love, and such joy but she also was looking forward to what came next, her next book, her next venture, she particularly touched me that day.  And she never allowed any health issue of her own to stop her from doing anything.  Margaret always found a way.

She was such a wonderful lady, you couldn’t help but smile and laugh in her presence, and her belief that everything would turn out fine and that there was always more of life to be enjoyed was an inspiration, both to me, and of course it was the essence of her romance writing.  I will miss her hugely, and I know that her readers will too.

Kate Hardy

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Kate, Sheila Danton, Jennifer Taylor, Caroline, Roger Sanderson and Margaret.

I first met Margaret Barker in the late 1990s at an East Anglia RNA lunch. She was the first M&B author I’d ever met and she was INCREDIBLY glamorous! Very charming, very funny, and great company. She used to head the RNA chapter back then, and persuaded me to organise a couple of lunches. I do remember her trying to persuade me to take over the RNA chapter – but I had to decline as I’d discovered earlier that week I was expecting my youngest.

She was always a delight to be with at M&B and RNA lunches, full of wonderful tales of her travels in India, and she was always very kind. She always greeted me with a hug (a gentle one in later years when her osteoporosis took hold) – and to be honest the M&B author lunch this year is going to put a lump in my throat because it won’t feel the same without her and Sara Craven.

When I think of diamonds and champagne, I’ll always think of Margaret Barker, with a very big smile.

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Harlequin Mills & Boon Medical Romance Novels, Travels Around the World

Fall in Love with Medical Romance this Summer!

After a week of beautiful days filled with sunshine here in London there is only one thing on the minds of the Medical Romance team—summer holidays! From sandy beaches in exotic locations to city breaks in bustling capitals east and west to cosy country getaways here on the British Isles there’s been no end of discussion about how to make the most of the long days, warm nights and bright promise the summer season brings.

So, what is your trusty Medical Romance Editorial Team up to this summer?

Laura:

Though I’ve just returned from a week in Paris with a sojourn to the Loire Valley to go chateau-hopping (because why not?!) I’m already busy planning my next great adventure…to California for the RWA conference! It’s my first visit to the west coast and so I’m planning to make the most of it and will be enjoying the conference—and the opportunity to visit with some of my North American authors. Yay!—before heading off on a two-week road-trip up the Pacific Coast Highway. The wind in the hair, the sun on my skin—I can already feel the sense of total bliss!

Laura in the Loire Valley
Laura in the Loire Valley
Laura Outside the Louvre
Laura outside The Louvre

Sheila:

I’ve also just been to France—it’s on our doorstep and yet a world away. It’s a place where many of our Medical readers live, French ladies just love our authors’ romances and so I feel completely at home! In May good weather is never guaranteed, so we simply drove south until we hit some sunshine and found ourselves amidst the old world charm of Bordeaux and the delights of the Dordogne. What a place to feast on natural beauty and bounty – of course we had to visit the wine route! This summer I’m looking forward to the Romance Writers of America Conference, with the lovely Laura and some other colleagues, and catching up with both authors and readers around the world. Beyond that, well who knows, the Mediterranean is too good to miss in the summer, and my mind always turns to those gorgeous Italian doctor heroes that our authors write about – so Italy is next on my hit list!

Sheila’s French Getaway
Sheila’s French Getaway
Sheila’s French Getaway

Tilda:

 My first trip of the summer may not get me any stamps on my passport (or a tan, if that were even possible), but it is getting me excited for what lies ahead! First I’m heading to Somerset for the hilly countryside and hopefully some lazing in a hot tub (even if it’s raining). But the main event of my summer is a week in Cyprus, the sunny isle whose name I’ve only just learned to spell…and I couldn’t be more excited about my first holiday there! Naturally my bikini is already purchased, but I’ll still be torn between decadent days in the pool and trying to watch as much of the Olympics as humanly possible…

 

London in the Sunshine
London in the sunshine

There’s no doubt that all this jet-setting is going to be brilliant inspiration—the possibilities for where we’ll set our next miniseries are endless! And, of course, we aren’t the only ones who are getting that itch to travel! Our Medical Romance authors will also be on the move which means we get the pleasure of seeing some of them here in London. In fact, we’ve already welcomed both Amy Andrews and Fiona McArthur to Romance HQ when they’ve been in town visiting from Australia! And there’s no doubt we’re looking forward to gathering with our authors at RWA in San Diego and meeting hopeful Medical authors too 🙂

Flowers in St James's Park London
Flowers in St James’s Park, London

Tokyo, South America, Africa, Australia, New York, London, New Zealand….the list of amazing settings in Medical Romance goes on and on! And even if you aren’t going away you know you can still be whisked away to exotic worlds because there are six entirely different gripping Medical Romances set in diverse, enticing cities and locales around the globe out every month! So whether you are lying on a beach or lounging in the garden, let our authors whisk you away to somewhere wonderful with a hot doc!

So, now that you know our plans we’re dying to know where this summer will find you and your favourite Medical Romance. Let us know in the comments below!

Harlequin Mills & Boon Medical Romance Novels

Behind the Scenes with the Harlequin Medical Romance Team!

Hi Medical Romance readers! I’m Tilda, the Editorial Assistant for the Harlequin/Mills & Boon Medical Romance team. This is my first post for Love is the Best Medicine and I’m excited to give you all a whirlwind tour behind the scenes with the Medical Romance editorial team! I hope it gives you an interesting insight into our role in helping bring the authors’ wonderful work to you all. And if you have any questions for me, please just ask.

Laura McCallen, Sheila Hodgson and Tilda McDonald—the Medical Romance team

As you all know, our wonderful authors are the beating heart of Medical Romance. The editors eagerly await the magical moment when any of their authors’ brand new manuscripts arrive! But what happens to a story then, to take the book from first draft all the way to the reader? Read on for a special sneak peek behind the scenes with the Medical Romance editorial team…

9 am—Emails and Tea!

After a speedy trip to the kitchen for a mug of tea, the first thing on a Medical Romance editor’s mind is their inbox, to sort out the day ahead. The calendar is usually packed full, but what we’re really hoping for is a lovely new manuscript waiting for us to read!

10 am—Covers

We kick off today’s meetings with an art briefing. This is the Medical Romance team’s chance to see the beautiful selection of covers the art department have pulled together for the month, and decide how best to package each book! Then it’s on to the next month, when we brief the art team on the new books. Here we think about a variety of elements—sensuality levels, themes, the season, poses that best reflect the title and (of course!) what the hero and heroine look like. Every story is unique, and we want a cover that reflects what makes each book so special!

11 am—Reading

If there’s a manuscript waiting, this is when we find a corner to curl up in and start to read. While reading, we keep in mind how to help the author polish the first draft into the final gem, to make the most of every story’s potential!

March 2016 Covers

The March 2016 Medical Romance line-up—look at those lovely covers!

1 pm—Titling

This is a highlight of our day—the whole team gets to know the month’s books, and brainstorms the best possible titles. We look for diversity in each line-up and have fun challenging ourselves here. Sometimes our suggestions get a little off-the-wall but we try and share even the craziest ones as there’s no knowing what will strike inspiration in someone else on the team.

2 pm—Prelims

In case you’re wondering, ‘prelims’ are the preliminary materials in each book (author notes, dedications, concept pages, extracts, praise…and, though not part of the prelims, we also look at the back cover copy at this point, so that we have a full view of how everything is tying in together). Each book’s editor sends us their prelims and back cover copy, and the team meets to look at each in turn. As with the images, every blurb should be unique and reflect everything that’s exciting about the book, and tie in with the title, image and extract! Some stories can be harder than others to capture in such a small number of words, but we won’t quit until each blurb is perfect.

3 pm—Letters and Line-edits

With our meetings finished, the team scatters to finish off manuscripts, and start writing back to the author. We can’t wait to tell them everything we loved about their book, and any suggestions we have to make it even more brilliant! Sometimes we follow up with a phone call (but this is often just an excuse for a chat!) If we have a final draft of a manuscript, we’ll use this time to do a line-by-line edit to ensure that every sentence sparkles, being careful not to change the author’s voice or meaning, of course, in any way.

4 pm—Reading (again!)

Of course, another task we make time for each day is to read new submissions from aspiring authors. There isn’t a better way to finish the day than to discover an exciting new talent to join our lovely Medical Romance authors!

We hope you’ve learned something new about how Harlequin Medical Romances come to life! Let us know if you have any comments or questions below 🙂