Sunday, February 10, 2008

Celebrating the Centenary

Most of my life as a writer of romance is spent, like today, sitting at home, at my desk, wearing comfortable clothes, no makeup, a kitten chewing my toes.

But at other times, life actually becomes the sort of thing that people seem to expect when they hear that I'm an author and they imagine glamorous parties in elegant settings in big cities with lots glasses of champagne served by handsome and charming men looking rakish in evening dress, black ties untied and hung loose around their necks.

Oh yes, and long-stemmed red roses too. Mustn't forget the roses. . .

But I don't expect that in amongst those images would be one of the bright pink 'flamingoes' - ie ladies on stilts, dressed in feathers who greeted us on arrival at the Wallace Collection Manchester Square on Thursday night. The elegant building was lit up outside, decorated with pink - and the 'flamingoes' there to welcome us. They were in fact the Bolli Darling Fabulous Flamingoes and they created just the right atmosphere of fantasy as the Babe Magnet and I arrived at the party to celebrate Mills & Boon's Centenary year.

Inside the Wallace collection it was all very pink. Pink decor, pink lighting, pink candy floss, even pink champagne being handed arround in elegant glasses. And all the authors and editors were elegant too. I chatted to a journalist from Best magazine while we were serenaded by a tenor named Atilla and handsome young men wandered through the crowd, handing over long-stemmed red roses to every lady there. If you check out Liz Fielding's blog you'll see that she managed to monopolise more than her fair share of these 'butlers' She obviously had a very enjoyable evening. (She also has some more great photos of the night.)

There were speeches, first from Alan Titchmarsh, who is a celebrity gardener and a novelist himself - so he knew both about the books and the roses we had been given. On the topic of the books, he praised Mills and Boon authors for having the courage to write about one of the most complicated and difficult subjects - love , (And the advice about the roses was to cut two inches off the stem and put them in water when we got back home - that would revive them, he assured us - and he was right).

Guy Hallowes the MD of Harlequin Mills and Boon held up a unique book - the first copy of the first book ever published by the company after it was founded in 1908. This was Arrows from The Dark by Sophie Cole and it was signed of the flyleaf by both Gerald Mills and Charles Boon.

The final speech was by Donna Hayes, the CEO of Harlequin Enterprises who had flown over from Toronto for the party. She spoke of how important the UK editorial of Mills & Boon was to Harlequin as a whole. Some 30 years ago, Harelquinhad started acquiring books in North America, but M&B editorial still accounts for nearly 50% of worldwide sales and authors and includes the leading series.

The speeches were rounded off by a rousing chorus of Happy Birthday to Mills & Boon and the rest of the evening was devoted to relaxing, enjoying the wine and champagne, choosing whether to enjy the treats offered - canap├ęs, mini ice creams, cakes with the M&B centenary logo in icing on the top, strawberries dipped in chocolate . . .or just more wine or more champagne. And we talked and talked and talked . . .

I caught up with so many of my friends that the names read like a roll call of M&B authors - Michelle Reid of course, Sara Craven, Carole Mortimer, Jacqueline Baird, Sharon Kendrick, Susan Stephens, Liz Fielding, Jessica Hart, Abby Green, Trish Wylie, Natasha Oakley, India Grey, Sophie Weston, Chantelle Shaw, Natalie Rivers, Fiona Harper . . . . . .

And I chatted with editors - I met up with my new editor (well - re-met up with her - she was my editor back in 2002), my previous editor who has now moved on to a new job within the company. I met brand new member s of the editorial team and editors who have been with the company longer than I have, including the wonderful, intelligent editor with brilliant great taste who discovered my very first manuscript languishing in the 'slush pile' and started my whoe career off. (Thank you again Lesley!)

And thank you again - because it was from this editor that I heard some great, exciting news about a wonderful and unexpected publishing devlopment that is coming up for me later this year. I'll tell you more about that when I have all the details, but it made my night and kept me smiling for the rest of the evening.

Even when the glittering party finally came to end, and with aching throats from talking so much, aching face muscles from smiling so much and aching, aching feet, we finally colected our special goodie bags - pink and white of course - we headed out into the London night.

But of course M&B authors couldn't let the party stop there and so the Babe Magnet and I found ourselves in the bar of Abby Green's hotel, continuing the celebrations longer into the night with Abby, Trish Wylie, Natasha Oakley, India Grey and Fiona Harper.

It was a wonderful party - a great celebration of a wonderful anniversary for a hugely successful company that has been part of the UK publishing scene for those 100 years.

So Happy Birthday Mills and Boon - congratulations on the centenary - and here's to the next 100 years!

PS Those goodie bags - as the Babe Magnet and I both got one, when we got home and examined the contents, it was to find that we had duplicates of most things. So I plan on sharing some of the goodies with my readers in a couple of quick contests over the next week - so watch this space.

But don't forget that the Here Come The Grooms contest is still running all month, with details here or by clicking on the Here Come The Grooms link on this post.


Nicolette said...

Sounds great. Wish I could have been there. I would especially have liked to listen to, and meet, Alan Titchmarsh.

(BTW, still waiting)

liz fenwick said...

Kate, it sounds like it was a fabulous evening. Thanks for sharing :-)

Judith said...

What a fantastic celebration, Kate.

Can hardly wait to hear your exciting news!!

Judith in Canada


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