The Riskies are very happy to welcome Linda Fildew, Senior Editor at Harlequin Historicals! We invited her here to dish about what they’re looking for in new manuscripts, plus some great upcoming titles to watch for in the bookstores. Linda will also be popping in to answer your questions! One commenter will win signed copies of books from Diane and Amanda (Diane will give one book of the winner’s choice from her backlist, seen on her website; Amanda will give one hot-off-the-press copy of her January ’09 book High Seas Stowaway!)
Riskies: Welcome to Risky Regencies! Tell us about the Harlequin Historical program. How many books do you publish each month? What time periods does the line encompass?
Linda Fildew: Thank you for inviting me and the Historical Team onto your blog site! We’re looking forward to answering as many questions as we can.
I am the Senior Editor for Harlequin’s Historical Romance line with responsibilities for acquiring and scheduling the books which appear in both North America’s Harlequin Historical and UK’s Mills and Boon Historical lines. Harlequin is a global company, so keeping in mind what has worldwide appeal is an important part of the acquisition process.
We publish 72 original historical books a year and encourage time periods from Ancient Civilizations–such as Greece, Rome, and Egypt–up to and including the Second World War. We like to offer readers variety in settings, although the Regency period is a key seller and remains ever-popular. Westerns, of course, are particularly popular with North American readers.
We have a 6-book program in both NA and UK–4 at retail and 2 at Reader Service (Direct to Consumer) in North America, 5 at retail and 1 at Reader Service in the UK. All books are available on eHarlequin.com or millsandboon.co.uk. Every current title is also available as an ebook download and we are continually adding to our ebook backlist.
RR: What are some upcoming books we should look for?
LF: We have some wonderful books I’d suggest you look for this month! To get you in the Christmas mood, we have a real cracker from Christine Merrill–The Mistletoe Wager. This Regency is packed full of warm wit and sensuality as an estranged couple get snowed in at a festive house party.
Cheryl St. John is guaranteed to stir hearts with her rugged Western hero in Her Montana Man. Protecting people runs through Jonas Black’s blood, and Eliza Jane Sutherland is one woman who needs his strong arms around her.
Another sexy hero can be found in Deb Marlowe’s Regency An Improper Aristocrat. The scandalous son of a disgraced mother, can the Earl of Treyford learn to be the true gentleman that Miss Latimer deserves?
And something a bit different is Michelle Style’s Viking Warrior, Unwilling Wife. We do find that readers love these strong alpha male heroes–honorable and true, he is attractive because you know he will do everything in his power to protect and care for the heroine. It wasn’t the threat of conquest that shook Sela to the core. It was the way her heart responded to the proud face and chiseled body of Vikar Hrutson, jaarl, leader of the invading force–and Sela’s ex-husband! A month full of variety, I hope you agree, packed with that all-vital emotional intensity.
And looking ahead we have more splendid books coming in 2009! Here’s a taster of just a few:
Bronwyn Scott’s The Viscount Claims His Bride is in January. This is linked to her Undone ebook (more on this exciting new program later) where Viscount St. Just has returned home from war and needs now to woo back the woman he left behind.
Outlaws, even innocent ones, just can’t risk doctor’s visits. But Quinn Rowlan desperately needs a nurse for his injured brother. Kidnapping is the only answer. Except Quinn snatches the wrong woman! Kate Bridges’s Wanted in Alaska will steal your heart this February.
In March, we’ve something a little different for Harlequin Historical, with Nicola Cornick’s Kidnapped: His Innocent Mistress which is written in the first person. The emotion is heightened in this sensual tale where the heroine finds herself embarking on an adventure, and is ruined by the wicked Mr. Sinclair!
In April, we are proud to launch debut author Ann Lethbridge with her sensual Regency The Rake’s Inherited Courtesan. We are always looking to take on new talented authors (6 so far in 2008) and do encourage submissions (more on this later!)
Coming in May is a special treat. Three Regency authors who are good friends–well known to the Risky Regencies!–have combined in a wonderful project. The Diamonds of Welbourne Manor is an anthology of three linked short stories featuring three scandalous sisters. Set in a sumptuous villa on the Thames, the family house parties are notorious. Love and mayhem are the order of the day! Sit back and enjoy. The Diamonds of Welbourne Manor is part of Harlequin’s year-long 2009 celebration for its 60th anniversary. (Riskies note: this is the anthology of Diane, Amanda, and Deb Marlowe!!)
There are many more treats in store, so do, please, keep updated on the books we are publishing in Harlequin Historical.
RR: That all sounds wonderful! And you have a new program, too. Tell us more about the “Undone” stories.
LF: Undone is an exciting new venture for Harlequin Historical! Launched November 1, 2008, these short, sexy, scandalous stories appear in ebook format. Available from eharlequin and other ebook distributors. The length is between 10 and 15,000 words, and we encourage submissions for any time period. We’ve widened our horizons and are also encouraging paranormal and time travel stories. We are looking for a high level of sensuality that flows naturally out of the plotline. There should be a strong emotional basis to the heightened attraction–it’s vital the reader can believe in the intense emotion driving the characters as their relationship develops. These stories should be hot, sexy, and subtly explicit without the lovemaking being vulgar or gratuitous. Full guidelines are on eHarlequin’s website. We launched with 4 Undones and will continue with 1 a month. For any aspiring writers who have been daunted by the idea of writing an historical of over 70,000 words, the shorter Undones might now give you the opportunity you’ve been looking for.
Building on the increasing popularity of sensual books in the marketplace, we are also introducing Undone into full-length Harlequin Historical at Retail–one book a quarter–where we are highlighting particularly sensual, provocative storylines. Our first one is Amanda McCabe’s High Seas Stowaway in January ’09, which neatly follows on from her ebook Undone (Shipwrecked and Seduced) in November.
RR: What are some stories you would love to see that haven’t come your way yet? What do you love to see in stories?
LF: I’ll answer this back to front, if I may! What I love to see is a storyline where you can tell the author is in love with her characters. There’s a depth to their personalities which shows that the writer has got to know them intimately and understands what motivates and drives them. It’s how the hero and heroine interact that is key to a good historical romance. The authentic background is important, but it’s the developing relationship between your main protagonists that is key. Take the reader into their world and hold them there with good pacing, natural dialogue, intense emotion, and a strong storyline.
Stories I would love to see? Well, we are encouraging some time travel and paranormal in our Undone ebook stories. If these work well then we could look to bring these different elements into Harlequin Historical itself. We’ve published some Gothic Regencies and a Halloween anthology so we are venturing forth in this area. I’ve yet to see ancient Greek or Egyptian settings. The story would have to be very strong for us to consider it, but we are always open to submissions.
RR: What are the biggest mistakes you see aspiring authors make? What about your own authors?
LF: The biggest mistake–both unpublished and published authors can fall into this trap–is to get carried away by the historical events so that the romance gets moved to the sidelines. I completely understand it must be tempting to use all that research detail, and it is essential research is done to make the book as authentic as possible, but the trick comes in knowing what to put in the story and what to leave out! The main focus of the story should be the relationship.
LF: I came to publishing because of a love of books, and I’ve been at Harlequin Mills and Boon all my working life. Quite amazing, I know! I joined just before Mills and Boon launched its historical program, then called Masquerade, and was part of the team which got this off the ground. I still have a photo of myself dressed in Regency costume at the launch party! I’ve worked in a number of editorial acquisition roles on the contemporary side of the business, and am most happy to be back now with my first love, Historicals.
There is no “typical” day at the office, which is good because each day presents its own delights and challenges. Most days emails are checked first thing to see what manuscripts have been submitted and what author, overseas, marketing queries have been raised. We have weekly historical team meetings to discuss work in progress and weekly general editorial meetings where we consider the books being put forth for acquisition. There are UK and NA art meetings to look at packaging in both markets, and much careful consideration does go in the whole package from the cover art to title to blurb copy–all must work together to create a buy-me book. For me, the most pleasure I get from the job comes from the author relationships I’ve developed over the years. I’m fortunate in having a truly delightful group of authors with whom to work–assessing the first draft, discussing the revisions, developing winning cover copy and ultimately seeing the books on the shelves. I greatly respect each and every author’s creative ability and take pleasure from the fact that the editor/author collaborative effort produces a book that will be read and enjoyed around the world.
LF: For full-length manuscripts, we’d ask to see the first three chapters and a 1-2 page synopsis of your complete story. These should come to our UK address which is on our website. We now also accept queries or submissions by email and these should be sent, as a Word document attachment, to email@example.com
Submissions for ebook Undone should be complete manuscripts only and should be submitted electronically–no partials or queries, please. Submissions should be sent as Word-compatible attachment. Submissions should also follow standard formatting guidelines and should be double-spaced and typed in a clear, legible font on numbered pages. Author name and title should appear as a header or footer on each page. The Historical Undone email address is firstname.lastname@example.org
Thank you so much, Linda, for taking time out of your (very busy) day to visit us here!