Thursday, April 19, 2007


Kate Walker has been writing for Harlequin Presents Mills & Boon Modern Romance since 1984. During that time she has had 50 novels published, many of them best-sellers, spending weeks on the Waldenbooks Top Ten Bestseller list, and with three new titles contracted for 2007/8. She is also the author of the award-winning 12 Point Guide to Writing Romance (Studymates 2004).

Tessa has asked me to write about things that are new and changes. And here I am brain dead from just wrestling my latest hero to the deadline. Right now the thought of NEW panics me. I know that any minute now my editor is going to say 'And what's your new story about?' And I'm going to have to say . . .I have no idea! Help! But I also know - I should do after over 50 books - that an idea will come. And it will probably start out as a tried and true Presents-style, seed of an idea -a 'secret baby' or a 'marriage of convenience' (haven't done one of those for a while) or revenge (no - that's the next one . . .) And then - and here's the important bit, and the way that makes this fit with Tessa's theme - I'll take a long hard look at that idea and see how I can change it to make it new.

Lets' face facts here - writing romance means that there are only so many plots - and permutations of plots - that we authors can use to fill out books. So it's very hard to make each book feel new and read differently from everything else that has gone before. There aren't so very many new plots but there are thousands and thousands of new characters. And they all have new lives and new love stories - and those stories make new books. That's the way I've always approached my writing. I'm telling people's - my characters' - stories. And so when people ask me how do I keep getting new ideas, how do I make things fresh and new each time, the answer's simple. It's because I 'meet' a new hero and a heroine. And their story is one I've never told before. Look at my two latest titles - two linked books, the Sicilian Brothers duo. Both my heroes are (obviously) the same nationality. They come from the same family. They're close to the same age. They work in the same business together. But their stories are not the same. Nor are their heroines - and that's what makes the story. In Sicilian Husband, Blackmailed Bride it's how Guido met Amber and what happened next. And when Vito's story (The Sicilian's Red-Hot Revenge) comes out - that very special 50th book - in July then he'll meet someone else and it will be a very different story from his brother's. It will be new - because the characters have changed.

But new and change also makes me think about the way I've seen this business develop over the past 20+ years that I've been writing. And that's one of the reasons why I'm so delighted to be here, celebrating the publication of Tessa's very first - and brand new - book. I love seeing new authors come up in this business. I love the fresh blood, fresh eyes they bring to a genre that has been going for far longer than I've been writing - Mills and Boon is celebrating it's 100th birthday in 2008 - and it's come a long long way from the very first romance stories that were published way back in 2008. And that's because of the authors who have been part of this company and who have written the stories that each new generation of readers wanted to get their hands on and read and enjoy. Without that change, those new writers, the romance industry would stagnate and shrivel - with new authors and the changes in the genre they bring, it's a living, growing, vibrant business,attracting more and more readers and writers every day.

Congratulations Tessa - I'm thrilled to be here celebrating your brand new book with you. I hope it marks the start of a wonderful career in writing romance for you. And I know that one day you'll look back and see just how things have changed in the time you've been writing. That's what I love about this genre - and it's what keeps me writing. So now excuse me - I have to go and meet the new hero and heroine whose story I'm going to tell in my 53rd book. My editor is cracking her whip over me - no change there then!

Tessa says: Add a commment and be in to win a signed copy of SICILIAN HUSBAND BLACKMAILED BRIDE and one of Kate's VERY special bookbags with a fabulous Kate Walker Pen-I've got one of those pens, I keep it as a good luck charm!



Blogger Annie West said...

Kate, your post made me wonder - are there any of the traditional romance plots (secret baby, office romance, revenge etc - you know them better than I do!) that you haven't used at some time? I would assume that you must have covered most of them. I'm amazed at your productivity.


2:58 AM  
Blogger Maureen said...

It really is the characters that make the story special for me. Meeting characters that I like and want to know keep me reading romances.

3:01 AM  
Blogger Tessa Radley said...

Welcome Kate!

Thanks for the lovely congratulations and well wishes. Congratalations on the 50th book you're about to have published. That's a mind-boggling milestone for me right now.

Now...about that 50th book, don't you think you need a BLOG PARTY? :)


3:57 AM  
Blogger misty wright said...

Hey Kate! It's been a long time, how are you? It seems you are still going strong. :) I love your books!!


4:24 AM  
Blogger Kate Walker said...

Hi everyone. Tessa tells me I can pick my winner when I've had 24 hours - so there's plenty of time to post a comment and hope to win.

Annie - what a fascinating question! You've really made me think. Now I'm going to have to go away and consider. Hmm - I can see a blog post on my own blog coming up . . . Office romance - not done that much . . . I am going to have to think

Watch this space!!

5:41 AM  
Blogger Kate Walker said...

Hi Maureen
It is the characters that matter isn't it - after all a romance is about the relationship between two people so if they don't appeal then the book isn't going to work. I always start with my characters and let the plot flow from them. They tell me the story - I just write it down!

5:42 AM  
Blogger Kate Walker said...

Hi Tessa

I'm so glad to be here - thank you for inviting me. I'm so pleased to be celebrating the birth of your very first 'baby' - but then each book feels likethat fir me. Even after those 50 titles, I still see each new one as a new'birth' - just as scary and worrying as the first.

Good luck with this and I hope it's the start of a great writing career

And yes, you're right about that Blog Party - must plan one. . .

5:44 AM  
Blogger Kate Walker said...

Misty, my dear how truly lovely to see you here! I've missed you. How are you doing?
I'm fine - busy as can be - but fine - and I'm so happy to 'see' you here.

Thank you for loving my books - do you still do reviewing?



5:46 AM  
Blogger Tammy said...

Hi Kate, 50 books is A LOT, wow!!! I had no idea you had written that many.

5:58 AM  
Blogger CrystalG said...

Great post Kate. I always love your characters. They are so vibrant and I am drawn into their world.

6:10 AM  
Blogger Stacy S said...

Congtrats on your 50th book. I love to read judt about anything.

6:23 AM  
Blogger Ali said...

Kate, just want to say Congratulations on your upcoming 50th release! Any special celebrations?

7:04 AM  
Blogger traveler said...

Congratulations on your 50th Book. Your characters are unique and special. Love your books.

7:05 AM  
Blogger robynl said...

a big congrats on your 50th!!!
Even if the plot is somewhat familiar with other books the characters are new and I live along with the characters when I read the book.

7:49 AM  
Blogger Lynne Marshall said...

Dear Kate,

As a new author to Mills and Boon who is working on her fifth book, I am in awe of your productivity! What a wonderful career you've had, and just think of the over one-hundred heroes and heroines you've created!

You've inspired me to get cracking on my WIP and to quit whining about, "what am I supposed to write now?" LOL.

Sincerest regards,

8:00 AM  
Blogger traveler said...

Wonderful to hear about your 50th book. The characters individuality makes the story attractive to me.

10:28 AM  
Blogger principessa said...

Your 50th book is an awesome milestone. Congrats. Love your compelling and appealing characters.

10:30 AM  
Blogger Lois said...

Wow. . . 50 books. . . I can't even imagine one, not that I'm writing one because I'm not. LOL But geez, it's just a really big Wow. :) I guess it doesn't really or totally get easier after that many. . . I'm sure certain aspects are, but not everything. :)


10:47 AM  
Blogger Kate Walker said...

Made it back! Just don't tell my editor I'm chatting!

Hi Tammy - do you know I really can;t quite believe in those 50 titles myself - till I see them all on my shelves. It's because I just concentrate on the one I;m writing. But I remember once, years ago, setting myself a one year plan - and then a five year plan and it went'Write my 10th book' 'Write my 25th book' - I never dared to loko at the possibility of 50!

11:13 AM  
Blogger pearl said...

Congrats on your success. Your books are universal and I enjoy their stories and the characters that are fascinating.

11:16 AM  
Blogger Anna Campbell said...

Kate, 50 books deserves a huge congratulations! Isn't amazing to have our Tessa on the verge of a brilliant career and you looking back over one? I smile whenever I see you on something like this by the way - do you remember shepherding me around the 2004 RNA conference as one of your 'virgins'? You were so amazingly kind and supportive to your stray Aussie V, I still remember that with gratitude. Keep writing! And congratulations again!

11:49 AM  
Blogger Kate Walker said...

Crystal - you couldn't really say anything nicer than that to me. Such a compliment to think that you think my characters are vibrant - and that they draw you into their world. That's just what I'm aiming for and it feels wonderful to know that I've succeeded.

12:20 PM  
Blogger Kate Walker said...

Hi Stacy

You're like me - I like to read just about anything too. The trouble is that writing means I don;t get enough time to read as much as I'd like

12:21 PM  
Blogger Kate Walker said...

Hi Ali - and thank you too. Special celebrations - you bet! I have all sorts of things planned - from a real life party to - yes, Tessa persuaded me - a blog party - and special contests so my readers can join in and win too. If you check out my blog and my web site in the next couple of months you'll be able to find out what's happening.

I plan on having fun - you don;t get to 50 every day!

12:24 PM  
Blogger Kate Walker said...

Traveler - thank you so much. As I've said, I work from my characters so knowing that they are special makes me smile so much

12:25 PM  
Blogger Kate Walker said...

Robyn - that's exactly the point isn;t it? The basic story may be one that;s been told before - but never with those 2 particular characters - and that's what makes it special. And it's what keeps my interest too.

12:26 PM  
Blogger Kate Walker said...

Hi Lynne - and congratulations to you on your four books- don't worry - the first 50 are the hardest! ;-)

Good luck with number five - hmm - now what book of mine would that have been?

Just checked - that would be Broken Silence in - eeek! 1987!! 20 years ago.If anyone can tell me the name of the hero in that book I'll give you a special prize.

12:30 PM  
Blogger Kate Walker said...

Principessa - welcome - and thank you. It's made my day to come here and find so many people talking about my characters - that's such a compliment.

12:32 PM  
Blogger tetewa said...

Wow 50 books where do you find the time? What is something you like to do on your free time when not writing? Congrats on 50!

12:32 PM  
Blogger Kate Walker said...

Hi Lois

You're so right - it doesn't get a lot easier - in fact in some ways it does get harder - you keep thinking 'but I wrote that back in 1989 ...' or whenever. One thing is that when you think you're never ever going to finish or you're stuck, you do know that in the past it all worked out - so you know if you stick at it that you will get there.

But I'm always, always nervous when I send off a new story to my editor - there's no guarantee of success and you can always be rejected - it's that thought that keeps me on my toes.

12:35 PM  
Blogger Kate Walker said...

Hi Pearl - thank you for that great compliment - I think that's the reason for the success of romance writing, isn't it? Everyone can understand falling in love and so the stories become universal. And it gives me such a thrill to know that my characters peak to so many readers all across the world. It's a wonderful feeling to know I speak this 'international' language and readers everywher can enjoy the books.

12:38 PM  
Blogger Kate Walker said...

Anna my dear how lovely to 'see' you here!
Hey - I'm not just looking back - I'm looking forward too! What's the next milestone I can aim for?? I have the 50th title coming out in July (June in UK) but I have already written another 2 since then.

I'm hearing so much about your book too - can't wait to get my hands on a copy. Congratulations to you on your success again.

And I loved having you as an Aussie 'virgin'! You were as welcoming to me when I came to Sydney - I do wish I could come back but not this year - sadly

12:42 PM  
Blogger Kate Walker said...

tetwa - free time - what's that?

Well, I wish I could read more. And I love films and the theatre. And travel. Once upon a time I used to enjoy embroidery and I have a table cloth that I embroidered when I had time to do that sort of thing.

Now I'm more likely to collapse in a chair and watch a DVD!

12:45 PM  
Blogger Kate Walker said...

Have I caught up?

It's the evening here in the UK - but keep posting and I'll pick a winner in the morning.

Well, no - I don't pick the winners- my cat Sid does that. I put all the names of the posters on pieces of paper and put a cat treat on the top and the one Sid eats first is the winner.

So I'll get him busy choosing as soon as I've had breakfast tomorrow.

If you want to see Sid then there's a pic of him on my blog - or on the contest page on my web site

See you all tomorrow

12:48 PM  
Blogger Annie West said...

Kate, great news that you've decided on a blog party: what fun. Good on you, Tessa for the fabulous idea!


1:55 PM  
Blogger Cherie J said...

Congratulations on your 50th book! What an amazing achievement! I agree with Maureen, the characters are what can make or break a book for me. I expect the hero and heroine to have flaws or they won't seem real but of they have too many flaws I may lose respect for them. I guess it is a fine balance that has to be maintained.

2:07 PM  
Blogger Kimberly L said...

Hi Kate. I like reading about characters that keep you wanting to read and not put the book down. I also like reading some books that spill over into the next book.
Congrats on your 50 books. Do you get real involved in your characters when you write about them?

4:18 PM  
Blogger anne said...

What a wonderful success. Your 50th books is something special to celebrate and to be proud about. Your books have brought me pleasure and the settings and characters are so well portrayed.

4:42 PM  
Blogger Helen Kirkman said...

Hello Kate
Lovely to see you on Tessa's blog and congrats on book 50!

You write great characters and we've been blogging here about how that draws us into the story. I still treasure my signed copy of "The Spaniard's Inconvenient Wife" and, like Tessa, my lucky Kate Walker pen.

Your Sicilian brothers sound interesting. Can't wait for Book 50 to hit the shelves :-)


6:27 PM  
Blogger Kate Walker said...

Hi Cherie - I'm with you on loving flawed characters - I remember a proverb (I think it's Jewish ) that only God makes perfection and I love both writing and reading flawed characters. But yes, the more flawed they are the more convincing the author has to make them - so that they stay heroes or heroines and not become people you can't respect.

A writer has to give a flawed character very strong reasosn for being that way or they lose all the readers' sympathy

3:05 AM  
Blogger Kate Walker said...

Hi Kimberley - do I get invloved? Oh do I! I have to fall in love with my hero when I'm writing and it's always such a wrench to leave him when I get to the end - I have to take a break between novels or I feel I'm being unfaithful if I write about someone else!

If you like reading books that spill over into the next one, I hope you'll enjoy my Sicilian Brothers duo - Characters who appear in the first one appear in the second - and their story is told then.

3:09 AM  
Blogger Kate Walker said...

Anne, thank you so much - what wonderful compliments. You know, sometimes people knock romance writing and it angers me - I love to feel that my books have given readers pleasure and that they've enjoyed the experience of reading them. There's nothing wrong with that - in fact after weeks like this last one, where there has been so much terrible news, I'm really honoured to be in the business of bringing people enjoyment and relaxation

3:12 AM  
Blogger Kate Walker said...

Helen! How lovely to be able to 'talk' to you again. I remember our meeting in NZ so very clearly and I too treasure my signed copy of your brilliant book Forbidden. That is securely on my Keeper shelf - if only for the cover! That back! :-O

Congratulatons on your continued success and if you're ever visiting York again do let me know



3:15 AM  
Blogger Kate Walker said...

Thank you all for visiting and commenting. Sid the cat has chosen the winner of my contest and Tessa will be announcing that soon


3:17 AM  
Blogger Ali said...

Kate, I've already made note to check your blog and site... can't wait to see what you've got planned :) Joined your newsletter, too.

10:37 AM  
Blogger Helenk said...

Wow 50 books Kate. That is really awe-inspiring. And here's to 50 more!

10:55 PM  

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