On Thursday at 11:30, there is a radio programme about Mills and Boon entitled Guilty Pleasures. There will be a play again feature and I believe people can listen via the internet from anywhere in the world.
The presenter, I believe, has done a lot of research and interviewed lots of readers, editors etc, but the blurb for the programme shows what a mountain one has to climb, particularly when dealing with preconceptions.
For example, it mentions Helen Fielding was once rejected by M&B. I am not sure if this is a great crime. Simply, because someone later becomes a popular writer does that mean their earlier work should have automatically been published. I know I am profoundly grateful that my early work wasn't published. I needed time to allow my voice to grow and mature.
It bothers me that from the outset they are focussing on people who did not make it. Why not focus on those who got their start with HM&B -- such as Rosemunde Pilcher? Lucilla Andrews? Both Rosemunde Pilcher and Lucilla Andrews spawned novel genres. Or on the other side of the Atlantic --Nora Roberts, Linda Howard, Jennifer Cruisie, Sandra Brown, Debbie Macomber -- to name but a few. Nora Roberts is considered to be one of the 50 most influential people in the US according to Time Magazine.
I am also bothered by the title -- guilty. Why should anyone feel guilty about reading? Since when is reading a sin? Why shouldn't people read things they enjoy? Why should people simply read things that other people deem hold some sort of virtue?
I love the fact that I get readers who write in to tell me that they are suddenly excited about history after reading one of my books.
Why does no one mention what a great export M&B books are? Over the years, they have enticed many a woman (including me) into wanting to visit the UK. They provide a positive view of the UK and other locations. Because they are exported to over 109 different countries, they help with the balance of trade.
Anyway, I shall listen to the programme but quite probably with gritted teeth.