Jane Holland grew up in a house of writers. Her mother was bestselling Mills and Boon author Charlotte Lamb, her sister also penned romances, and her father was a journalist and biographer. Small wonder she became a writer herself! Starting off in poetry, historical fiction and thrillers, she’s now proud to be following in her mother’s footsteps writing romance for Harlequin. A mum of five, she loves tramping the Cornish coast, and often writes with a cat on her lap.
Harlequin: Tell us about yourself. Our readers want to know!
Jane Holland: I’m a wanna-be hermit who loves solitude, lives in her PJs and wishes she only ever ventured forth to forage for food. But having five kids put paid to that. Once I’m out of the house, I like to get my daily step count up, do writing sprints in a local café, or record TikTok videos (which my kids beg me not to post).
H: Why did you want to become a romance writer?
JH: My mum was Charlotte Lamb, a legendary Mills and Boon writer back in the day. I grew up reading her book proofs, aged nine, and moved on to devour her vast library of romance titles. The greatest gift she gave me was the unquestioning assumption that ‘mums write novels’. So, on becoming a young mum myself, it never occurred to me that motherhood might clash with my ambitions to be a writer. Romance was always my go-to comfort read. To me, series romance is a huge canvas, full of light and colour and passion, and I’ve always wanted to play and experiment there, among the greats.
H: What were the big steps in your journey to becoming a published author?
JH: I wrote my first attempt at a Mills & Boon romance at university instead of going to lectures, and spent the next five years bombarding them with manuscripts – all rejected. I’d always written poetry, and won an award from the Society of Authors, getting my first poetry collection published as I hit thirty. My first novel was published soon after, set in the world of women’s snooker, as I’d played pro snooker in my 20s. But it wasn’t where I wanted to be as a writer. Some years after my mother passed away, I was taken on by her agent, who suggested I try my hand at Tudor fiction, and that was my big break, placing a historical trilogy with Random House. Over the next ten years, I wrote dozens of historicals, romances and even thrillers. But I never gave up that early dream of following in my mother’s footsteps by writing series fiction for Harlequin Mills and Boon, and kept subbing to them over the years, mainly Regency romances. Then I was reading a Harlequin Presents one day during lockdown and suddenly realised I should have been submitting to the classic line I’d first read as a child, that HP was my natural home, with its powerful heroes and feisty heroines. And it worked!
H: What advice would you offer aspiring writers?
JH: Always finish what you start and plan your books in advance. My biggest hurdle to publication was constantly rewriting the same manuscripts or abandoning novels partway through. Writing is hard work and accepting that is half the battle. If ‘pantser’ writing isn’t getting you published, plan your book ahead of writing it and follow that plan in a methodical, linear way from start to finish. Ignore the inner critic telling you it’s rubbish. Books never want to be written. You need to force them out into the world through sheer will power. Good luck!
H: What did you do when you got the call from Harlequin?
JH: I was working at home as usual, and my agent emailed to say I’d been offered a deal with Harlequin Mills and Boon. I was totally ecstatic and fired off emails to my husband and my grown-up kids, and to several writer friends, sharing the happy news. Then I had cake. A lot of cake! To be writing for Harlequin is a dream come true, and although it’s been a long road, I’ve finally made it!
Now let’s hear from the editor, Emma Marnell:
When Jane came to the Presents Team’s attention we were blown away by her wonderful settings, her strong, empathetic heroine and her powerful Greek hero. Prepare to be captivated by the emotional moments between her characters, and the intensity Jane writes with. She has a remarkable ability to turn friction into divine flirtation… You’ll have to read her debut to find out more, coming later this year!