From the editor
ROSEMARY Neill’s wonderful piece about romance writing coming out of the closet (it starts on page 5) brought back warm memories. Like so many others I once fancied I could win a share of that lucrative market and set about reading as many Mills & Boon books as I could. I also put away a few Barbara Cartland novels — now there was a successful author! (Which reminds me: brilliant Clive James’s description of Dame Barbara’s maquillage has never been bettered. ‘‘Twin miracles of mascara, Barbara Cartland’s eyes look like the corpses of two small crows that had crashed into a chalk cliff.’’ Perfect.) Anyhoo, my friends and I could see there was a formula; it was just a matter of inserting into it a couple of attractive characters and a wisp of plot. Handsome but taciturn country doctor who has suffered some past romantic pain, new schoolteacher in town, that sort of thing. If we simply applied ourselves we, too, could make some serious money. Of course we achieved no such goal, or at least I didn’t. Possibly some friends did under an assumed name, there being at that time a bit of shame attached to this genre. Perhaps romance writing will never get literary cred, but these days most people respect earning power so authors are starting to put their heads above the parapet. Good on them. Truth to tell, this romance writing lark isn’t as easy as it looks. If it were, everyone would be doing it. I simply didn’t have the level of determination required and undoubtedly didn’t have a talent for fiction. Still don’t, which is why I’m a journalist. So hats off to these folk who will never win the Miles Franklin, or the Booker, or the Pulitzer, but who know their market and keep it entertained. There are worse things to do.