Recently, BBC4 broadcast two programmes to mark the 100th anniversary of romance publishers Mills and Boon.
The first, Consuming Passion, was a drama charting the stories of three women affected by the Mills and Boon brand: co-founder Charles Boon’s wife Mary, 1970s writer Janet and modern day lecturer Kirstie. It was fascinating stuff, and Janet’s story was hilarious and poignant at the same time.
How to Write a Mills and Boon followed literary author Stella Duffy’s attempts to write romantic fiction for Mills and Boon. Stella proved to be a very engaging host. She wasn’t condescending to the genre and threw herself into the challenge, stifling her writing voice in order to meet the M&B criteria. She talked to editors, M&B authors (both established and aspiring), and avid romance readers and, by the end of the programme, she had produced a synopsis and three chapters that the M&B editor liked. How To Write a Mills and Boon proved that writing romantic fiction is a tough challenge and that romantic novels are enduringly popular!