Sorry to hear from one of my writing friends that Robert Hale, publisher has closed. I have very fond memories of being published by them and can honestly say that if it hadn't been for them I would never have made it as a writer.
My first book was published by them in 1981, three weeks before my daughter was born. I was thirty and so excited. I found a copy of it in Chilton library a couple of years back and it was the copy I had given to my husband. I could have cried. He has been dead for twenty seven years. How it got there I have no idea but it was the most wonderful time of my life when I was being published by them, I had a lovely husband and a little girl. We lived in the country and the house had a paddock and I remember when they sent the letter saying they were going to publish my book I ran round and round the paddock screaming,
'I'm a writer, I'm a writer.' It was the fulfilment of my dreams. I'd wanted to publish a book all my life. They gave me a hundred and fifty pounds for it and nothing was ever the same again. Talk about making a woman's dreams come true.
I made a lot of mistakes but they put up with me and if I misunderstood John Hale would write me polite letters. I did make the mistake of telling them about one book that I didn't want to alter it and then I got desperate and offered to alter it but they wouldn't take it. I was never that precious again!
They published twenty books and I learned a lot. The first ones were awful, dreadful historicals in the main but somebody must have read them. The libraries, God save those that are left, where would I ever have been without the libraries. Since then I've written and written through despair and grief and huge loss and happy times watching my little girl grow up and although I have done other things with my life my writing saved me from ever having to do work I didn't want to do. I didn't have to go out into the snow to work, I was always there for the sports days and the school garden parties. I was always there for my kiddie and my animals. It was the perfect job for a stay at home single mother.
They published fourteen Rainbow Romances and six short dreadful historicals. I did my apprenticeship with them.
I used to get letters from Betty Weston, lovely letters telling me that she had sold one of my books to France or to Germany or Italy and as a paperback for Woman's Library stories. I still have copies of all these. Her letters meant we could go on holiday or afford a better Christmas. Times were tough but I felt I was really contributing. I would walk the dogs up the old dismantled railway line to the village of Ramshaw and sort out my writing problems.
When my husband died I was in the middle of writing a Rainbow Romance. I can remember a year later, when we were living in a caravan in Weardale, sitting down at my portable typewriter and finishing it and after that I wrote my first big book for Hodder and I found an agent and moved on. There were no more Rainbow Romances but Robert Hale had done it for me and I will always remain very grateful to them for giving me the chance and fulfilling my dreams.