Monday, June 22, 2015

In the 'news'

In the coffee shop- this morning,  I  opened a newspaper today to find, unexpectedly, that there was a familiar cover staring out at me from the centre of an article.

No Holding Back  was being used to illustrate an article ‘revealing’ that apparently Harlequin Mills& Boon novels now have   a ‘racy newlook’  and that this is apparently influenced by the success of the erotic novels  50 Shades of Grey etc.

Errr . . .

Well this might be sort of relevant if they hadn’t chosen a book of mine that came out in  1995 – and was re-released as a ‘Vintage’  M&B in 2012.   And if they’d been looking for an example of a raunchy cover, I’m sure a little effort could have unearthed  something rather less restrained, even in my own output since then.

The Sicilian’s Red-Hot Revenge for example, or Kept For Her Baby.  Though the first of those is almost ten years old; the second only two years  younger  - published back in 2009.

The other  ‘recent’ covers cited  - on books by Sandra Marton and Kelly Hunter  are a good five years old  with Not For Sale and  Flirting with Intent both dating from  2011. The only actual up to date cover – from this month – is a Blaze title  by Nancy Warren  -  in which – shock horror – the heroine‘s shirt has slipped to reveal her modest  white bra.    So, according to the Daily Mail this is new and raunchy and influenced by 50 Shades . . . Oh, for heaven’s sake
It doesn’t take two minutes’ research to turn up an article  that claims, in the same stunned tones, that Mills and Boon have become  ‘Millsand Boom Boom’! – This time, apparently ‘influenced’ by the popularity of Black Lace erotic novels.  The two articles could quite easily be transposed – all that’s needed is that the names of the editors quoted and the  books that are ‘influencing’ the writers  can be swapped about and Shades of Grey becomes  Black  Lace  - and there you go!  

Not a hope in hell of considering that Harlequin  M&B authors have been influencing other popular fiction authors as we hold on to a large amount of the  novel selling market  with books that have had a wide variety of tones, voices, levels of sensuality and stories  - and continue to do so.  In today’s article,  amongst the hugely dated covers of books from the 30s, 40s, 50s (show me any novel with a cover that hasn‘t dated when it’s over 50 years old!) there is the comment by Joanne Grant, Mills & Boon executive editor:

Mills & Boon has adapted to reflect society and popular culture. You can really chart the changes because we have a history lasting over 100 years. In the past, the sex itself wasn't so obvious on the page. It was implied, and there was lots of sensuality so you could imagine what had happened behind closed doors, but it wasn't explored on the page. Now there are no worries about that – we can be very open.

But as any reader of Mills & Boon knows this isn’t something we’ve just discovered – or have been pushed into by the ‘influence’ of 50 Shades.  It’s part of the natural growth and changes in our books – and so many many others to reflect to society in which we’re writing and in which our readers are reading.

Wouldn’t it be wonderful to find that the ‘news’ about the books we’re publishing might at least be contemporary and not a good five years old or more.  I’m not holding my breath.

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