Romance, Historical, Contemporary, Paranormal, Young Adult, Book reviews, industry news, and commentary from a reader's point of view

Remembering Kate Duffy

Last Sunday, Kate Duffy passed away.   She was a pioneer in the industry.   She founded a number of authors and published some of the favorites of romance readers.   In 2001, the Brava line was launched with Bertrice Small’s Intrigued.   Today, erotic romance is nearly passe.   It’s worth remembering her just one more time.   Sue Grimshaw reached out to the industry and gathered a number of memories.   It’s a lovely tribute.

Hilary Sares pointed out:

In a way, Kate Duffy isn’t gone and never will be. To paraphrase a famous epitaph for someone else who was equally talented, if you would visit her memorial, walk into any bookstore. And start  at the romance, mystery, and fantasy shelves.

Why don’t we remember Kate by recommending one of “her” books; either a book by an author she edited or a book in a line she founded:

  • Authors (e.g. Jude Deveraux, Julie Garwood, HelenKay Dimon, Alison Kent, Jill Shalvis, Bonnie Vanak, Lori Foster, Jacqueline Frank, Heather Graham, Judith McNaught, MaryJo Putney)
  • Lines: Simon & Schuster Silhouette, Pocket Tapestry historicals, Harlequin Worldwide Library, Kensington Brava

Jane Litte is the founder of Dear Author, a lawyer, and a lover of pencil skirts. She self publishes NA and contemporaries (and publishes with Berkley and Montlake) and spends her downtime reading romances and writing about them. Her TBR pile is much larger than the one shown in the picture and not as pretty. You can reach Jane by email at jane @ dearauthor dot com


  1. Bev
    Oct 04, 2009 @ 07:37:48

    I had heard about Kate Duffy long before I met her. My mother worked for Harlequin when they bought the Silhouette lines from Simon & Schuster. Everyone who met Kate could say this about her: she was direct, she was talented, she was a great editor, she knew romance and she had a HUGE heart.

    I met Kate in 2007 at the M&M conference. She was bewildered as to why a pitchee left the pitch session in tears because she HAD asked for the manuscript IF it was rejected by another NY house. We commiserated and got to talking. After all the things I’d heard about Kate from other writers, I was delighted to find her as pleasant and talkative as she was. At that time I had my first manuscript in with Hilary Sares and she assured me Hilary would get back to me but if she didn’t in 3 mos, “here’s my card. Drop me an email in October.” Kate was true to her word. Hilary bought that manuscript the following year.

    My mom and I were shocked and saddened at her passing. I knew she was ill but everyone said she would be back, better than ever. God keep you always, Kate.

  2. Sandy James
    Oct 04, 2009 @ 08:22:17

    I wonder how many authors like me wished we could be Kate Duffy’s latest “discovery.” Even though I hadn’t met her personally, I mourned her passing, both as an author and as a reader.

    I remember waiting for my first editor appointment in Dallas and being close enough to watch her in action. I was utterly terrified of talking to an editor, but by watching how personable and kind she was to authors, I immediately shed my fear. I was hoping one day to be able to pitch to her, even if I didn’t have something she was looking for, simply to get to meet her face to face.

    I would be glad to honor her by naming a book she helped reach store shelves, but there are simply too many by too many fantastic romance writers.

    My thoughts and prayers go out to all the people who felt her loss on a personal level and to all the people whose lives Kate Duffy touched.

  3. Amanda
    Oct 04, 2009 @ 08:57:27

    I’m another one who heard about Kate Duffy long before I met her. But when I pitched to her at Moonlight and Magnolias (I was there with you Bev in 2007) she was so personable. And when we established that we were both fans of Anne Perry’s Monk and Latterly series our bond was established.

    I was a nervous pitcher then and had to look at my notes but she was so encouraging and loved the concept for my book and requested the full. She gave me her card and told me that if I didn’t hear from her after three months to call and ask for a status report.

    So I went home, polished my manuscript and sent it off. When three months had passed I called, which made me nervous but I figured I’d leave a message on voicemail and that would be that. I almost passed out when Kate Duffy herself answered the phone. I had my spiel worked out but forgot it as soon as I heard her voice. “Um….Kate?” I asked, my voice tiny. “I submitted my manuscript to you after Moonlight and Magnolias and you said to call…” Even though she had told me to call I felt like I was about to get in big trouble for daring to phone an editor. But she was perfectly lovely. Asked for my name and the title and told me to hold for a few minutes. I did, and she came back and said to expect something in the next two weeks.

    True to her promise, the rejection came in the mail a week later. But it was an encouraging one, with shrewd comments about the plot and characters. And I came away from the whole experience feeling positive and upbeat. We weren’t best friends, and I was one of hundreds of aspiring authors she talked to every year. But she made that experience special. And that takes talent and personality, and simple kindness.

    It makes me sad to think that I won’t spot her across the room at RWA again or see her generous offers of full critiques or breakfasts or roadtrips on the Brenda Novak auction listing. It makes me sadder to realize that she won’t be out there discovering fabulous new authors and offering her unique perspective to the industry at large.

    Rest in peace, Kate. And may you have all the wonderful books you want, and time enough to read them.

  4. Jessa Slade
    Oct 05, 2009 @ 02:19:02

    Oh, trying to choose a book of “hers” to recommend… Since WHITNEY, MY LOVE is directly responsible for my love of romance, I suppose I’ll start with that one. I didn’t know her personally, but she changed my life through the authors and books she championed. Thank you, Kate.

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