Scarlet Wilson

Scarlet Wilson

Novels Now is pleased to have a visit from the RONA nominated medical writer

Scarlet Wilson

Scarlet is a fellow Scottish based writer beavering away at parenting, the day job and writing first class Medicals for HM&B. I was very impressed by Scarlet’s two nominations in the short category, but having heard her speak at the Penrith RNA conference last year, not surprised. I asked Scarlet a few questions and here’s what she said in reply:

I first met Anne as part of the Scottish contingent at the RNA conference in London in 2010. It was my first time at a RNA conference and I was terrified. I didn’t know anyone and had travelled down on the train from Scotland by myself in the hope of meeting some like-minded individuals. Some wise person had decided to put all the Scottish ladies in one corridor and boy, did we have fun. I’ve never seen so many women consume so much wine in such a short space of time. I knew I’d found some kindred spirits!

Qu 1) Congratulations on your places in the Shortlist, Scarlet. I’m sure you’re too modest to bring it up, but it must be unusual to secure two places on the same shortlist, isn’t it?

I’d love to pretend it’s only ever happened to me, but actually one of my fellow nominees – Fiona Harper was nominated twice in 2009. I’m just so glad to see medicals on the shortlist, because the line I write for isn’t quite as popular as some of the other lines. Last year Kate Hardy was shortlisted with another medical, so it’s great to see recognition for the line that I love.

Qu 2) How long were you writing full length before you were contracted by HM&B? Do you have any insights for the aspiring HM&B writer?

I wrote my first really awful Mills and Boon when I was 17. It was called Hidden Love and got a form rejection. I didn’t start writing again until 2009. I joined the New Writers Scheme via the RNA and got myself two critique partners via the Harlequin boards. The story I sold was my second attempt at the New Writers Scheme, and by that point I’d been writing for 18 months. (My first attempt has since been rewritten and is released in February – An Inescapable Temptation a.k.a. the cruise ship story!)

Qu 3) How has your life changed since you were contracted to write a specific number of novels a year, rather than writing as and when?

I’m fairly disiplined and write 1000 words every day – usually at lunch time. If I keep doing that it keeps me on track. I’m not the type of girl to pull an all-nighter to meet a deadline. So far, I’ve always submitted my contracted books early. 1000 words isn’t actually that much and it’s manageable along with working fulltime and having two sons who have actitivities on every night of the week. I enjoy writing, I don’t think I’ll be able to manage any more than 4 books a year in amongst other things, so I’m quite happy crawling along here like a tortoise!

Qu 4) Is it more or less fraught to be under contract? Do the ideas flow, or does the deadline freeze?

I haven’t had brain freeze yet. And if I get it now I’ll blame you!! I always know what the next story is going to be. Sometimes I get a little stuck around the middle. I always know how my story will start and how it will end. How I get there is sometimes a little fuzzy. If I’m stuck I brainstorm with my critique partner Rachael. If she gives me a few sentences or thoughts that’s all I need. I also pitch things back and forth to my editor Carly. She always knows the general story idea and looks at a partial, giving me a few suggestions, before I complete the full book.

Qu 5) Has your new career impacted on relations with your colleagues in the day job? Do they worry about appearing, heavily disguised of course, in the next opus? (As fellow writers, we all know individuals are unlikely to be sufficiently interesting to secure imortality in our prose, but it is a preoccupation some encounter. )

The trouble with working in the health service is that everyone thinks they should be in your next book. And claiming all the profits! My colleagues are supportive and also know their secrets are safe with me! I actually have a much more vivid imagination, their stories are tame in comparison to what I put in my books. I’ve also yet to meet a George Clooney or Patrick Dempsey in my workplace – that’s why I write fiction!

Thank you so much for sharing these insights, Scarlet. Fingers still crossed until the results.

Scarlet’s blog is here

Scarlet’s nominated books are Her Christmas Eve Diamond and From West Wing to Maternity Wing



Great Excitement in  UK romance circles today with the announcement of the 30 book category shortlist for the RONAS. The Ronas are the annual awards of the Romantic Novelists’ Association. Winners of each category will be announced on 26th February at a glittering evening in London. Richard and Judy will be making the announcements. The overall winner of the Romantic Book of the Year Award comes later, on 16th May.

NOVELS NOW is particularly excited about this year’s Ronas because one of our writing pals,


has secured not one, but two nominations in the short romance or series category. Scarlet writes for Medical HM&B and her nominated books are: West Wing to Maternity Wing and Her Christmas Eve Diamond

Novels Now has all fingers crossed, Scarlet.

Information about the RONAS can be found here:

Creating That World

Whatever the genre or period or culture you write about, you’re absorbed in creating that world for the time it takes to write your novel and then again when publicising it.

Creating that world is a complex weaving of things that are blindingly obvious and things that are so subtle, you won’t be aware you’ve done it and your readers certainly won’t.

I’m currently writing historicals set in the early nineteenth century. They could be called Regencies, although the WIP is set in Edinburgh in 1826 by which time George was King in his own right. Creating that world has had many strands.

The Actual History – useful secondary sources

First up, there are the actual history books. When I began Uni in the late sixties, I had to read a book called The First Four Georges by JH Plumb. It remains on my shelf as a ready and easy source of dates. I’ve also got others, many others, and anyone writing in an earlier time will have their own favourites.

Creating the World, however, is so much more than knowing the facts The wonderful Mrs Hurst Dancing by Diana Sperling b1791 and text by Gordon Mingay, is a collection of drawings made in the period of that world I’m creating. It shows the activities of the leisured classes. What they were doing to enjoy themselves, who participated and what they wore are set out. My writing space is festooned with postcards I’ve bought when visiting various museums and preserved mansion houses. How does a neck cloth actually sit around the male neck? Well, there it is in the wonderful Family Scene, artist unknown, of 1815-20. Likewise the carriage: I’ve had nothing to do with horses, but there are pictures of carriages and curricles showing how the horses were harnessed – and how the heroines had to hang on for dear life.

Costume collections are also an inspiration. The wonderful national collection held by the Royal Museum of Scotland at Shambellie House in Dumfries and Galloway has taught me so much about the presentation of the female form. I enjoyed a hilarious visit with some writing friends when we established just how restricting a corset would be. Some of us couldn’t even get into one. I haven’t ever seeen a Dark Ages dress, but they look so much more restricting with the long sleeves and wimples. For the writer, the point is not in ooing and ahhing over the colour, quality and cut, but in absorbing what the wearer could and could not do. Why do so many Regencies have their heroines dressing in men’s clothes at moments of crisis after all?

Here’s a photo I took in Sicily of some Roman girls. Just to remind us that we need to

Roman Girls

Roman Girls

use context for understanding. It would be a mistake, I believe, to think all women wore bikinis in the early centuries.

Contemporary Writings

Last week, the Scotsman newspaper ran an article by Stuart Kelly about the Scottish contemporaries of Jane Austen. He listed Susan Ferrier and Mary Brunton as examples and quoted form the writings of Sir Walter Scott who was a great admirer of Austen and also of Ferrier.

When I found Ferrier’s novel, Marriage, I started reading with no particular expectations, but it is a lovely book full of human foibles and humour. Bare-chested Scotsmen are absent and the castles are as dark and damp as one knows they must have been. She’s writing at the time I’m writing into and her work gives me insight. I haven’t read Mary Brunton, an Orkadian, but I look forward to sourcing it.

Literary Criticism

Jane Austen is a wonderful mine of information, but as a consumate writer, her information isn’t always on the surface. That brings me to a book I’ve recently read by John Mullan called What Matters in Austen? Twenty Crucial Puzzles Solved.

Professor Mullan has spent many years teaching JA and his book might be said to cover the blindingly obvious. Certainly the information is in the novels and we could all read it for ourselves. However, I know I sometimes need the blindingly obvious pointed out as I’ve absorbed it with the words. Therefore I’ve never wondered how ‘I knew that’.

What Matters in Austen is full of teased out information needed by the romantic novelist hoping to work in the Austen period. The chapter  on the right and the wrong way to propose is particularly illuminating, but the book is full of goodies.

A few of the ways I use to Create That World.

Book Review


Christy McKellen’s first romance, Her New Worst Enemy, gets off to a page turning start with a quirky, slightly ditzy heroine. Don’t we love them? And a tall handsome hero. They’ve got much in their favour too.

Ellie is not quite in recovery from being dumped by The Rat, Paul, and Gideon is not at all in recovery from being abandoned as a child by his grandparents and older sister. So far, so what happens next to keep you reading Her New Worst Enemy?

Lots, and I mean lots, of intriguing and inventive action in the bedroom, the kitchen, the shower… All in the best possible taste, folks. Christy’s style and language are attractive too making the book a fast paced, modern read. I had it on my kindle and London to Edinburgh whistled past in no time.

Christy has a secondary plot threaded throughout which keeps the principle one moving as the H & H approach the problem from different standpoints and we get not one, but two happy endings.

Great first novel from Christy McKellen and Crimson Romance. I look forward to future treats.

One stage behind me

Sent off the final copy edits this morning together with a Blurb form for Mariah’s Marriage. It’s been an interesting experience and I’ve learned a lot about what’s good in my writing and what remains problematic. Still making the transition from playwright because I conceal too much. It’s really imortant to remember that sub-text is teased out by a good actor and director. The reader only has their eyes and what the novelist puts on the page.
Back to the WIP tomorrow while I wait for the Lines Ed.


Hi and Welcome to Novels Now.

Novels Now is my new blog. It’s dedicated to the novel. Write them – read them – enjoy them – dissect them. It’ll be great to hear from you too.

I’ve been moving into the writing of novels through the New Members’ Scheme of the Romantic Novelists’ Association over the last five or so years. That’s not as long from joining to publication as it is for everyone in the scheme and not as short as for some. We’re all different.

My first novel, MARIAH’S MARRIAGEis coming soon, May 2013, from MuseItUp of Canada. It’s a romance set in the early 19th century when skirts were long, bonnets de rigeur and the horse ruled the road.

Hitch your skirts, tie your bonnet strings and jump into my gig. We’re off.