Sunday, December 21, 2008

Looking for writers from India

I know that I get a lot of visitors to this blog from India, specially since HMB started publishing regularly in that country. So I thought that some of you might be interested in this article that appeared in The Times yesterday.

Mills & Boon's steamy passage to India to woo authors

Prepare to be romanced as never before: the women of India – the land that brought you the Kama Sutra and countless Bollywood depictions of all-conquering love – are being wooed to write for Mills & Boon.

The world’s most prolific romance publisher, which sells four books a second, has just begun its largest search for fresh literary talent, and has chosen to hunt in the subcontinent for the first time. It is the climax of one of the longest and most breathless unions in publishing.

Starry-eyed Indian readers have sighed over imported Mills & Boon books since the days of the Raj. Indian bookshop shelves groan under the weight of titles such as the recent Virgin Slave, Barbarian King. The 100-year-old British company began printing in the country this year to fill the growing demand.

“Look at the basic Bollywood plot,” Andrew Go, the head of the publisher’s Indian operations, said. “Boy meets girl, obstacle, happy ending. It’s incredibly emotionally charged, with lots of conflict. Who can possibly be better equipped to write Mills & Boon than the Indians?”

As if to prove that the course of true love really never does run smoothly, there have been concerns that Mills & Boon’s raunchier offerings are too steamy for a conservative country where the expression of sexual intimacy remains taboo.

Novels in its racy Blaze series, which promises readers “sexual adventures and fantasy journeys” and includes titles such as Just a Little Sex and The Last Virgin, have been held back from Indian audiences.

To unearth more suitable fare, Mills & Boon has established the Passions Writing Contest. The aim, the company says, is to “discover the world’s next big romance author” – an Indian writer who can hit the amorous heights achieved by the Mills & Boon legend Debbie Macomber, the dyslexic American whose 150 stories have sold more than 60 million copies.

Entrants must write a 2,000-word short story. The winning tale will be published and its author coached for a year to produce a novel. She – Mills & Boon assumes that the victor will be a woman – will also receive a laptop computer and diamond jewellery.

“This is the land that built the Taj Mahal, the greatest-ever monument to love. There are lovers everywhere in India. It represents a massively exciting pool of fresh talent,” Mr Go said.
India could also prove extremely lucrative. Literacy rates are rising and an increase in disposable income in recent years, particularly among women, mean that more people are buying books. Mills & Boon, whose books cost 99 rupees (about £1.40), also believes that it will profit from the global economic downturn as readers search for cheap escapism.

The company, which sells more than 200 million books a year, offers aspiring writers a plotting rulebook. The guidelines for its India competition follow the same pattern and suggest that although the publisher is searching for new talent it is not keen to break new literary ground.

The short stories may be set anywhere – “Rome, Paris, Mumbai, London or any other romantic location” – the rubric states, “but should have the capacity to capture the hearts and minds of readers across the world”. It adds: “All entries must have an Indian element to the story, either through the location, character or other devices. As with all Mills & Boon novels, all submissions should have a happy ending.”

If you're interested, you can also find more details with rules for entry and some tips on writing on the Mills & Boon India site


Nature Nut /JJ Loch said...

Kate, what fantastic news!!! I loved reading about this. :D

Happy Holidays, dear favorite author and friend!!!

You have touched many hearts in 2008.

Hugs, Nancy/JJ

Meenakshi said...

Great News...

though the only concern being, am one of the last ones to know; that leaves me with less than a month to prepare my manuscipt.

still, better late than never. :)



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