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The moment her editor read the opening line of Joanna’s partial manuscript – her first ever submission to Harlequin Mills and Boon – she knew she had someone special on her hands. Joanna brought the Viking world so vividly to life, and knew how to sweep the reader away. When it came to revising the story, she was so professional, enthusiastic and dedicated, and her hard work paid off when she finally achieved her dream of becoming a Mills and Boon author. It was an amazing moment when we could make the call and tell her we wanted to buy her book. Her editor can still remember how delighted – and rather stunned – Joanna sounded! Her debut novel The Viking’s Defiant Bride was published in February 2009 and was a great success, with comparisons made to Kathleen E. Woodiwiss.
Joanna not only wrote for Mills and Boon Historical Romance, she also wrote poetry, and articles for her local magazine, Reflections. She was keen to encourage other aspiring writers, and frequently held workshops and gave talks. She travelled extensively throughout her life, which sparked off so many ideas and no doubt brought added depth and insight to her atmospheric settings. She was quite the daredevil, even once going zip-lining through the forests of St Lucia as a birthday treat! She had a wonderful sense of humour, and her passion for her subject matter always shone through, which made working with her so enjoyable.
Joanna worked hard to hone her craft, tirelessly tackling revisions and taking on editorial guidance. The acceptance of a book was celebrated with a glass of rioja and some chocolate! Joanna’s breadth of knowledge meant that she could turn her hand to a number of different time periods, including Viking, Medieval and Regency. Her tenth book, Defiant in the Viking’s Bed is to be published in October this year. This is the first in Joanna’s new Viking trilogy, and she was having so much fun returning to the period that she loved so dearly.
We are all immensely proud of her achievements, including a nomination for her fabulous second book, The Wayward Governess, in the Romantic Novelists’ Association Pure Passion Awards 2011, where she was so thrilled to be shortlisted for the History Prize alongside one of her writing heroines, Elizabeth Chadwick. Shortly before her passing, Joanna also won the 2013 Golden Quill Award for her novella, Christmas at Oakhurst Manor, which was a wonderful boost to her during her illness. This is yet another example of just how much potential she had, and how much more she had to give.
Joanna’s loss has shocked and devastated us all, and she is deeply missed. We are proud to have known such a special, talented and vibrant person, and to have published her stories. We take some comfort in knowing that Joanna has left a great legacy in her books, and that she will continue to bring so much pleasure to those who read her wonderful stories.