Awards bring a happy ending for writers of love
COLLECTIVELY, they have sold so many millions of books that no-one knows precisely where to start counting. Yet some believe they are the JackVettrianos of the publishing world
Rosamunde Pilcher, Lady Mary Stewart and Lucilla Andrews were yesterday honoured with lifetime achievement awards at a lunch at the Scottish Parliament at Holyrood.
The awards for the three Scottish authors, all octogenarians, marks the start of a campaign by the Romantic Novelists Association (RNA) to fight the denigration of socalled “women’s fiction”.
Ms Pilcher, whose novels the Shell Seekers, September and Winter Solstice all went to No 1 on the NewYork Times best-seller list, told her audience of writers and aspiring writers: “I have been in this business for 65 years. This awful word ‘romantic’ has been hanging round our necks like a big weight.
“I think what goes through the books we write is kindness, it’s giving love, it’s tolerant love, it’s not vicious love.
“Our books can in fact ease life along – and it’s a pretty gruesome life we live in just now. If we can go on being life enhancing and make people laugh and cry then I don’t thinkwe have anything to bother about.”
LucillaAndrews, famous for the dozens of best-selling medical stories she wrote from 1954 to 1996, was not able to attend as she was in hospital after a fall.
Lady Mary, who during the same period wrote 20 hugely successful novels such as MadamWill you Talk?, Nine Coaches Waiting and This Rough Magic, was also unable to travel from her home in Argyllshire.
The chairman of the RNA , Jenny Haddon, said the three authors were an inspiration to many. They had contributed to the gaiety of nations and the invisible account of the balance of payments formore than 50 years.
Mrs Haddon, an international bankerwho herself has written up to 40 novels for Mills and Boon, said: “Mary Stewart was on the NewYork Times best-seller list 14 times. Martin Amis eat your heart out.”
Katie Fforde, who has written 12 well-known novels, said: “We are the Jack Vettriano of the fiction world. People buy our books in the millions but the establishment sneers at us.”
Herviews were echoed by Maggie Craig, a respected writer of historical Scottish fiction, who said there was too much snobbery about romantic fiction and authors were fed up of being told they were inferior.
“It’s the Scottish cringe about love stories. Crime stories are nowrespectable, but why is it OKto murder people but not enjoy stories about people who fancy each other?”
Roger Sanderson, who has written 39 books for Mills and Boon under his wife’s name Gill, said: “We are bringing pleasure to people and there are few higher aims.”
PILCHER: Easing life along.