| Barbara Taylor Bradford poses with her Bichon Frise in her New York apartment. (Reuters)
New York, Nov. 24 (Reuters): Shadows grow long over the East River on a chilly autumn evening as romance novelist Barbara Taylor Bradford dims the lights of her sumptuous Manhattan apartment.
She gestures to a massive neon Pepsi Cola sign shining brightly from the opposite bank of the East River into her windows, chuckling: “That is my bit of pop art.”
In her library with a mantel decorated with English Minton china, the author of A Woman of Substance and other novels settles into a divan and outlines plans for a new book featuring her most famous character, Emma Harte, to be delivered to publishers in December.
Her latest book, Living Romantically Every Day, a guide to kindling and maintaining romance, was published this month, but there is no time to rest on her laurels.
That book is, Taylor Bradford says, a guide for women on “how can I do something to spoil him'” It includes recipes from meals featured in her various fiction books, a top 10 list of romantic films as well as a primer on caviar.
“It is not a book you are going to pick up and read from page one. It’s a kind of a helper,” Taylor Bradford said in an interview.
The book draws on her 40-year marriage to film producer Robert Bradford. “If a woman works and she comes home at night and feels like I do when I’ve sat here at that typewriter, she doesn’t have to rack her brain. People are overtired. You go blank sometimes,” she said.
Fortunately for her readers, going blank is not a problem for Bradford when she sits down to write. In a roughly 23-year career, she has published 18 books that have sold 70 million copies in 90 countries and 39 languages.
Women are her main audience, but she does get some fan mail from men. Her characters often are successful businesswomen with a taste for romance. In stories filled with plot twists, her characters must overcome obstacles to win love.
Most of her novels are hefty tomes and the upcoming Emma Harte book will possibly run to some 600 pages.
The Harte character made its debut in 1979 with Bradford’s first novel, A Woman of Substance, the chronicle of a tenacious Yorkshirewoman’s rise from poverty and her success as a businesswoman.
While she died in one of Taylor Bradford’s books, the new Harte story — tentatively titled Emma’s Secret — will look at chapters of the character’s life that not have been closely detailed in previous works, specifically during World War II Britain.
“I have had a lot of demand from readers,” said Taylor Bradford. “They have written: ‘You’ve killed Emma. A big mistake. Why did you do that' Why did you do this' You should not have done that. You have to bring her back!’”