It is with great sadness that I start 2012 with the news that the illustrious and inimitable Penny Jordan has passed away.
She died on the last day of 2011, which, as one of her good friends India Grey pointed out, seems somewhat poetic. It was as Penny herself might have written about a character in one of her books.
Penny Jordan to me, was the quintessence of Mills and Boon. She was one of the first M&B authors I read and I couldn’t get enough of her books. Her name alone was enough to have me grabbing the book off the shelf and I would go away and devour it all too quickly and then look for the next one. No-one wrote male heroes like her. No-one wrote heroines like her. No-one wrote passion, conflict and heart stopping tension like her. No-one wrote happy endings like her. They were never too trite or schmaltzy. They were as intense, believable and emotionally felt as the entire book had been.
She single-handedly created a genre within Mills and Boon which was the Penny Jordan experience.
I spent many a prep time reading one of her books between the pages of my history or geography text book.
Perhaps on some subconscious level I was aware that her words and stories were planting the seeds of a future career with Mills and Boon?? She undoubtedly inspired me hugely, and many others.
But to most people, she was and is a much loved author. Someone who created fictional landscapes so real and tangible that the reader couldn’t help but come away feeling uplifted and enriched.
The first time I met her I felt like I should bow, or something, but she quickly made it very clear that she didn’t like to stand on any ceremony. She was utterly humble and disarming and so charming. Self deprecating to a fault.
I am so so thankful just to have met her, and to have been able to talk to her. And listen to her stories and wisdom. There was no sense of hierarchy with her even though she was who she was. Always, her advice was to remember that it’s all about the books and you have to try and write a better story each time, and never forget that you’re only as good as your last book.
Her legacy is astounding. She wrote not only for Mills and Boon but also for MIRA, Avon UK and HarperCollins. Since 1981, she wrote upwards of 188 books and sold countless millions worldwide.
Only last year she won a prestigious Life Achievement award from the Romantic Novelists Association in the UK.
The world of romance and the world in general will be a grayer place for her loss. I’m sending her family and friends and all those readers who loved her so much my deepest sympathies.
To paraphrase an Irish saying (Ní beidh a leithéid arís ann): There will not be her like again.
Penny Jordan, RIP.