Norfolk author's book named one of the 'sweetest' and 'sexiest' in the UK
- Credit: Kate Hardy
Norfolk romantic novelist Pam Brooks, who writes as Kate Hardy, has just won a major national prize with her 90th Mills and Boon novel.
Pam began writing medical romances for Mills and Boon 20 years ago, while her baby daughter was ill in hospital.
Chloe is now studying English at university and Norfolk butterflies helped inspire the latest prizewinning Kate Hardy novel.
In A Will, a Wish and a Wedding, architect hero Hugo is shocked to discover his aunt has left her house to a butterfly expert and expected him to help turn it into a butterfly centre.
This month the book was named overall winner of the Romantic Novelists’ Association (RNA) shorter romantic novel award. The judges described A Will, A Wish and a Wedding as “Everything you could possibly want from a romance - sweet, sexy, captivating and a book that makes you laugh and cry.”
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Pam said: “I’m absolutely thrilled to bits - especially it was for my 90th book, in my 20th year of being an Mills and Boon author, and 25 years of being in the RNA. That makes it feel even more special.”
It’s not the first time she has won major prizes for her writing. She won the RNA romance prize for her 25th Mills and Boon novel, Breakfast at Giovanni’s and she has also been presented with a national literary prize by dancer Darcey Bussell, which delighted the ballet-loving author.
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Pam, who lives with her husband in Costessey, near Norwich, is well known for including interests and passions in her books and most have lots of music, history and cookery references, and many have scenes set in Norfolk. This latest prizewinning novel combined two childhood fascinations – romantic stories and butterflies.
Pam has written stories for as long as she can remember and knew she wanted to write romances with happy endings after falling in love with Mills and Boon novels at the age of 12. She has been intrigued by the cases of butterflies at Norwich Castle Museum for even longer. They were collected by Norfolk explorer and butterfly expert Margaret Fountaine, who inspired Pam to include a female Victorian butterfly collector as part of the backdrop of her latest novel.
Margaret Fountaine spent much of her life travelling the world, collecting, breeding, painting and publishing scientific papers about butterflies. When she died in 1940 her collection of 22,000 butterflies was given to Norwich Castle Museum.
Pam’s research for A Will, A Wish and A Wedding also involved going to see butterflies at Warham Camp, near Wells-next-the-Sea and Wheatfen Broad, near Norwich. “At Warham there were the common blues (that was magical), and a gatekeeper seemed to lead the way down the track to the gateway. There were ringlets and painted ladies as well,” said Pam. “At Wheatfen I was hoping for Swallowtails but didn’t pick the right week! There were absolutely tons of peacocks. I’ve never seen so many in one place. There were commas and silver-washed fritillaries, too.”
She was also thrilled to discover – and include in the novel – facts such as butterfly skeletons are transparent, they see ultraviolet patterns that humans can’t on flower petals and their body temperature needs to be 30 degrees centigrade before they can fly.
Pam started out as an accountant in Norwich before moving into marketing and then becoming a full-time writer. She has written more than 130 books, including local history books as well as romance and other fiction. Together they have been translated into more than 20 languages and sold more than seven million copies around the world.
“I want to give readers a place where they can take time out, and come out the other side feeling refreshed. I once had a letter from a reader saying that my books really helped her through a tough time and made her remember that the world is a good place, and that’s stayed with me.
“I love writing romances because I believe that love can change even the darkest moments.”
This week her latest book, Surprise Heir for the Princess, is published – look out for some familiar locations including Wells-next-the-Sea, Overstrand and Holt. “It’s a modern twist on Roman Holiday - how can a princess disappear for a few days in a world where everyone can upload things on their phone and it’s instantly across the whole world?” said Pam.
Another romantic novelist with Norfolk links was shortlisted for a Romantic Novelists' Association prize this month. Liz Hurley grew up in the county and says her first novel, A New Life for Ariana Byrne, is a love letter to Norfolk. It was a finalist for the Katie Fforde Debut Romantic Novel Award.
Read more: Bestselling Norfolk author Rachel Hore also has a new book out this spring