Love in the time of reality
Mills and Boon is a constantly evolving genre, contends Clare
Somerville, head of retail UK and India.
From romance to bestseller fiction, young adult novels to erotic
literature, non-fiction to fantasy, Mills and Boon has published
passionate love stories under every category for over a century now.
Harlequin Mills and Boon has over the last year begun to re-invent the
genre again, this time to adapt to the globalised world. Two Mills and
Boon novels with Indian characters set in Indian society have been
published recently: Milan Vohra’s “The love Asanby” and journalist
Aastha Atray’s “Monsoon Bride”. Both were chosen as winners of Harlequin
Mills and Boon’s online writing competition, Passions.
LOVE OF IT Clare Somerville Picture by Ramesh Sharma
There have always been extreme reactions to Mills and Boon novels;
some love them while others love to hate them. Some like to lose
themselves in the fairytale endings while there are some who complain
about the hackneyed plots and stilted characters. Clare Somerville, head
of retail of Harelquin Mills and Boon UK and India, doesn’t agree with
the latter opinion: “Mills and Boon is in a permanent state of
evolution. The novels reflect on the aspirations of today’s woman; their
place in society, education and careers. The novels are true to the
prevalent social and sexual mores,” says Clare.
The Passions writing competition that is on till January 31 will
reward the Mills and Boon stories from India with a published version of
their stories. “The writer must have an individual and authentic voice.
There has to be a happy ending. We are looking for writers who can craft
believable characters, making the novel replete with a lot of sexual and
emotional tension. It’s got to ring true and the novel must take the
reader on an emotional rollercoaster, with plenty of
‘heart-in-the-mouth’ moments,” says Clare of the sort of submissions
they are looking for.
But if the characters are to be believable and the plot credible, it
ought to be borne in mind that love in the real world sometimes has
unhappy endings. Women and men make wrong choices and couples betray one
another. But Clare defends Mills and Boon, saying: “The convention of
the genre is to have happy endings. But there is so much variety in the
stories. Though the endings are always happy, there is conflict and
uncertainty on the romantic journey.”
Clare also argues that the authors of Mills and Boon are writers of a
high standards from different professional backgrounds. “We have
received submissions from Indian men as well. Most of the participants
are highly literate and educated.”
There are statistics to prove the popularity of Mills and Boon, but
Clare speaks of many incidents when she’s received personal feedback
from readers. “A lot of women tell me how much they love them. Once, at
a discussion on Mills and Boon, there was a mad rush for limited number
of books that were on display, which shows how well-loved the genre is,”
says Clare who was born in Calcutta in 1950 and has worked in the
publishing industry all her life.
When asked which of the genders are capable of deep love, Clare first
excuses herself for making generalisations and then proceeds: “Women are
much more ready to give their all whereas men categorise their lives
much more effectively.
- The Hindu