Today we're interviewing Sharon Kendrick who has, amazingly, written over one hundred books for Mills & Boon. We thought we'd catch up with Sharon to chat about her writing process.
To be honest, if feels a bit unreal – but pretty amazing! I’ve just finished book 103 and I was as hungry for that story as for the very first one I wrote.
When did you first start writing for Mills & Boon?
Gosh. Back in 1987. My son was a few months old and my daughter just 20 months. I used to write in the evenings when they’d gone to sleep (ha, ha). That first book was accepted without a single change, which hasn’t happened very often since!
What is your writing process? Do you plan first or just start writing?
I have done both but now I plan more. I try to get a really strong conflict worked out and a powerful opening. Then I get to know the hero and heroine as much as possible before I begin. You know, all the stuff you’re supposed to do! But it’s important to know (say) how your heroine used to spend Christmas, or what the hero likes best to eat. All those details (which you may never use) make them become real people to me, so that I know how they’d react to any given situation.
How long does it take you to write a complete first draft? How many drafts do you do?
I write four books a year for Harlequin Mills & Boon. Sometimes they write quickly, sometimes not. I only ever do one draft and when I’m happy with the story on the screen, I then print it out and correct it on the page – and am always astounded by how many glaring errors or inconsistencies I’ve missed.
Can you tell us a little about your average writing day?
I go over what I’ve written the day before (and sometimes I overwrite too much). Then I launch into the story – when I try to become each of the characters. I love it when they really start to “speak” to me – so that I’m just the conduit through which they can express themselves.
What are the best bits, worst bits and most surprising bits of being an author?
The best bits about being an author are:
- Being paid to do something I love.
- Having the freedom to work when I want and wear what I want.
- It gives you an entre into the world – few people can resist talking to you when they hear that you write books for a living. I could go on and on about the places I’ve seen and the fun and slightly crazy things I get asked to do – but I never forget how very lucky I am.
And the worst bits? Nothing worth mentioning – at a push I might say people’s sometimes naff insistence (and it’s usually a man) that their life story would make a good book!
I was good at writing stories at school and the teachers always used to read them out to the class, but I left school at sixteen and then had zillions of jobs. It was when I had my first child that I realised that life wasn’t a rehearsal and that’s when I started to write. Fortunately, I found my genre straight away.
What advice can you give to our readers who want to write for Mills & Boon?
The best advice I can give your readers is to decide which line they want to write for (I write for Modern/Presents) and then buy four or five books from that month’s list and read them all, to see what is currently selling. It also gives you a good idea of the variety within the line. Then I would work out a strong conflict, get to know your hero and heroine inside out. Maybe do a twelve-point plan of what should be in each chapter (ie. Chapter I is the meeting and the set-up of the story and Chapter XII is the reconciliation/ resolution etc). And then pour all your passion into it and….go!
Please tell us about your latest book
My latest book is called A Royal Vow of Convenience and it’s about a princess who has been very publicly jilted. To escape the humiliation Sophie runs away to work on a cattle farm in the middle of the Australian outback, using an assumed name. For the first time in her life she is being judged on who she is, rather than what she is and everything is going fine until an arrogant, alpha billionaire (with hang-ups!) flies in and starts to question who she is…and that’s when the fireworks start!
Thank you so much Sharon for taking time to answer our questions.
FIND OUT MORE ABOUT A ROYAL VOW OF CONVENIENCE
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