Good morning and welcome to Crafting Your Career. Today, we continue our yearlong look into the various romance subgenres by spotlighting the medical subgenre. Author Janice Lynn and Harlequin Mills & Boon Assistant Editor Lucy Gilmour are here to share their thoughts on this sub-genre.
Janice and Lucy will both be stopping by to answer questions, so get ‘em ready.
Here’s Janice and Lucy!
Adrienne: How would you define this subgenre? What are the plot elements that make it part of the medical subgenre?
I would say that Medical romance is open to absolutely any medical specialty. Maternity, pediatrics and the hospital emergency room are always well-loved but we’ve had quite a few naturopaths (often teemed up against the most cynical of alpha hero doctors!) and other different occupations too.
What we really want to see are all those enduringly popular hooks in Medicals (Miracle babies, gorgeous paediatricians, midwifery) given a fresh and contemporary twist. For example, think of the advances that have been made in the medical world in the last ten years with practises such as IVF – isn’t there just a wealth of tales just waiting to be told?
We encourage a wide variety of settings, so let your imagination run wild. Use the setting wherever it may be to add flavor, but don’t let it take over. Again, just keep in mind that the essential ingredients of a Medical Romance are your characters, their internal emotional conflicts and that magic of watching the love story between the hero and heroine develop. After all, that’s why readers come to Harlequin!
Janice: Medical Romances are just that–romances with a strong medical element whether in setting or characterization or plot. Medical romances often combine all three elements, and certainly this makes for a stronger story.
For the Harlequin Medical line, there has to be medical scenes where the hero and heroine are taking care of someone. There is a lot of scope within the line as to occupations and scenarios, but the medical scenes with the two main characters interacting have to be there.
Adrienne: What subgenres do you feel are hot right now? What’s not?
Lucy: I don’t think there’s anything we’d say isn’t hot within Medicals – the beauty of the line is that it’s so varied – there’s something there for everyone! Medical TV dramas are enduringly popular, and we really try to tap into what readers love about them – heroes such as McDreamy & McSteamy in Grey’s Anatomy and George Clooney in ER are just some of my personal favorites!!!!
We’re open to stories that take whatever tone suits the author’s voice best, be it vibrant, funny, sexy, intense, heart-wrenching, exciting, uplifting, unexpected, warm, community-focussed… If you think about it, even within shows such as Scrubs, House or Nip/Tuck, different episodes can have very different tones – some are deeply heart-wrenching, and others fluffier, flirty and fun. As I’ve said above, there’s huge scope for variety within the line, which makes it so diverse and interesting to read. If you’ve got a great idea and have strong characters and interesting emotional conflict in place – go for it!
Janice: I’m not really sure on this. Twilight seems to be the biggest thing going currently, so I guess vampire stories are a hot subgenre. I’ve no idea what’s not hot. I know I’d love to see Romantic Comedies make a strong come-back as I love to read them and struggle to find new ones
Adrienne: Do you see any trends writers should avoid? Move toward?
Lucy: There are some specialties that will always be popular with our readers; surgeons (especially heart-surgeons – very romantic!), children’s & NICU doctors, midwives etc. – we’d love to see more of these, so have a think about what you can do with these themes that hasn’t already been done! And if there’s an area of medicine you’re particularly interested in then give it a go; as long as you’ve got an intelligent, compassionate heroine and a hero we’ll all be raving about in the editorial office then anything goes! It’s all about finding the romance, the emotion, the drama rather than the edgy realism of medical life – really it’s about the fantasy of a romance between a lovely, smart heroine falling in love with a drop-dead gorgeous doctor.
Janice: I don’t recommend writers move toward trends, unless it’s to write what they love and to write, write, write. As far as things to avoid, avoid trends that are detrimental to one’s muse, avoid trends that aren’t something you want to write but are doing so because you want to make a sale.
Adrienne: What do you like best about this subgenre? The least?
Lucy: Well, in terms of what I like least within the Medical line, sometimes we see too much focus on gory medical drama, or on hospital politics or the administrative ins and outs of running hospitals. Remember that first and foremost these are romances – just within a medical setting
Otherwise we see many of the same challenges as with many of our other series’ – character, conflict and clichés! At the heart of all great romances are two strong, appealing, sympathetic and three-dimensional characters. Emotional, character-driven conflict is the foundation of a satisfying romance - conflict spawns tension and excitement. Last but most definitely not least we want new authors to innovate, not imitate – throw those clichés out of the window!
And as for what I love love LOVE about Medicals – it’s got to be the heroes. All Harlequin heroes are super-sexy, but Medical heroes are dedicated, attractive, honourable, and human – men who will move mountains to save a life – the kind of man who we all dream of having on our side in an emergency. They are strong, intelligent and successful and respected. Oh, and deliciously gorgeous as well…!
Janice: The thing I like the most? The romance, of course. I love the falling in love journey couples go through in a romance novel and this is definitely true within this line. Some of the first romance novels I read were old doctor/nurse stories that were my grandmother’s. I’ve never quit loving that storyline. The thing I like the least.thinking.thinking.can’t think of anything at the moment. So far, I feel that I’ve had a lot of flexibility within the line to stretch my wings, so to speak. I think it’s a great Harlequin line to write for and would recommend it to anyone who loves Medical Romances.
Adrienne: How do you think this subgenre has changed in the last five years?
Lucy: Medical Romance definitely moves with the times…long gone are the days of being limited to doctor heroes and heroines who are only ever nurses. Now our heroines are every inch the professional match for the hero. Stong, independent heroines – another reason I love the Medical line!
Janice: I sold to the Medical Romance line in December 2006 and I’m not sure I can say how the line in general has changed during that time. For my writing specifically, I’d say my Medicals have grown more sensual and have more humor than my first few releases.
Adrienne: What advice do you have for writers trying to break into this genre/subgenre?
Lucy: Many of our Medical authors also write for other Harlequin series – Harlequin Presents and Harlequin Romance to name a few, which just goes to highlight that the heart of the story MUST be a romance.
As well as the highs and lows, warmth and passions of medical life, Medicals promises heart-racing romance, with the added bonus of pulse-raising medical drama that throws our heroes and heroines together…even when they might not want to be!
For the doctors, surgeons, nurses, paramedics and midwives between our pages, it’s all about overcoming the challenges and obstacles of finding love under pressure in the demanding world of modern medicine. Readers enjoy falling in love with top-notch docs and hot-shot surgeons from around the world, and experiencing love and life in the shoes of smart, caring and beautiful medical heroines. Our stories can be intensely passionate or warm and tender; if you want to write a scorchingly sexy tale – go right ahead…or if you’d prefer to keep it warm and sweet and tiptoe away as the bedroom door shuts, that’s absolutely fine too!
Ultimately we’re looking for a range of emotionally intense reads, from the traditional to the ground breaking and promise our readers contemporary romantic relationships – set against a compelling medical backdrop. In a nutshell, we want to give the women who pick up our stories a big read in a 50,000 word book!
Janice: Write. Submit. Write. Submit. Read the line (I’d recommend my books. ) Know what the line is looking for and what has to be there for the book to be a Medical. But mostly, write, submit, write, submit, and keep honing your craft.
Adrienne: Do you have any additional thoughts you would like to share?
Lucy: We’re often asked if you have to be a medical professional to write for the Medical line. And certainly the books include some medical drama as part of their promise in that it helps to firmly set the stories in the medical world and help us to learn more about the characters. But primarily it should be used to help drive the hero and heroine’s emotional conflict forward.
Some authors do come from a medical background, although increasingly many do not! The internet allows contact with the medical world and a wealth of personal experiences can all be utilized to help you achieve believable and realistic medical drama. Medical details should be kept to a minimum, we don’t need masses of medical drama, what there is should be both contemporary and correct. We are essentially looking for romance writers rather than medical professionals to write our stories.
It’s important to remember all medical drama is within the context of a romance – therefore we are not looking for a great deal of detail. Readers are looking for an escapist read rather than a medical textbook!
And finally, I’d just like to say that we’re most definitely looking for exciting new authors; from the US, Australia, the UK – or absolutely anywhere in the world – what we want are talented writers with unique, fresh voices who create compelling characters and fabulous stories that will keep readers turning the pages!
Janice: Just that I appreciate everyone stopping by and that if you’re looking for an idea of the vast range of writing styles within the Medical line, order this month’s. Each one of the authors with books for sale at http://www.eharlequin.com/ this month have very unique writing voices and our sensuality levels vary. That’s a really cool thing about the Medical line, you aren’t boxed in by sensuality level. The level can truly be dictated by the characters, plot, etc.
Thank you to Lucy and Janice for visiting with us today.
RU Crew, here is your chance to get answers regarding the medical subgenre. Go to it!
Join us on Wednesday when three men give us their opinions on the definition of manliness.
Bio:Lucy Gilmour is an Assistant Editor for Harlequin Mills & Boon and works in their London office.
Lucy joined Harlequin five years ago after finishing her classics degree and spending two glorious years working in the French Alps. She works across all of the UK acquired series giving her the chance to work with some of her favourite heroes – the Alpha males of Harlequin Presents and Harlequin Romance, devilishly handsome doctors of Harlequin Medicals and Harlequin Historical’s Regency Rakes!
Lucy dreamt of working for Harlequin since she spent her first-ever allowance of pocket money on a much treasured Presents at the age of thirteen. Reading (and editing!) romance is still utterly delightful – what could possibly be better than falling in love with a new hero every day?!
Bio: Award winning author Janice Lynn has a Master of Science degree in nursing from Vanderbilt University and works full-time as a family nurse practitioner in a small, rural town in the southern United States. Juggling the aspects of day to day life and her life-long dream of writing happily-ever-afters, Janice lives with her husband, their four children, their two dogs, twenty-two 4-H chickens, and a lot of unnamed dust bunnies that have moved in since she started her writing career.
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