Tuesday, 3 January 2012


By now I’m sure that many of you will have heard of the death of Penny Jordan. She slipped quietly away in the last few hours of the old year, enveloped in the love of her family, knowing – thanks to her wonderful sister, who kept in touch with her friends throughout – how very much she was adored and admired and I’m very glad about that. But I’m still utterly devastated that she’s gone.

Quite simply she’s the reason I’m here, doing what I’m doing. Without her I’d still be messing up people’s furniture orders in Laura Ashley, failing to work the till, feeling unfulfilled and frustrated and taking it out on my family. I'd still believe that the only skills I had (daydreaming and putting words together) were utterly unmarketable. Penny didn't give me a career exactly, but she gave me something far more valuable - the confidence to strive for one myself, and the self-belief that I could achieve things I'd always written off as being far beyond my reach. She made my world bigger and brighter, and she made me able to lift my head up and look at it properly.

I've often referred to her as my Fairy Godmother, such was the transformative effect she had on my life. She called herself my 'writing mum', which doesn't do justice to her shimmering glamour but is equally fitting. She was the first person I told when I got 'the call'. She was the person I talked to when I needed advice on anything from contracts to career direction, the one I shared champagne and chocolates with (at my kitchen table at 10 in the morning) when I won the RNA Romance Prize, the person to whom I dedicated my first book. It was Penny who inspired, instructed and informed my writing more than anyone else, who made me feel shy and awe-struck by her effortless elegance, her humour, humility and capacity for sheer hard work, and who gave endlessly without ever taking anything in return.

I will miss her more than I can begin to say.


Rachel said...

Sending hugs and kind thoughts your way.

scarlet wilson said...

Big hugs India xxx

wannabe a writer said...

Hi India

I remember meeting her with yourself at Chester library and she seemed like a really lovely person. My thoughts are with you and her family at this sad time. The writing world will be a poorer place without her.


Jan Jones said...

Also sad here, India. I do hope, at the end, she knew how many people loved her.

India said...

Bless you Rach and Scarlet, and thanks for the hugs. Hugs always welcome here (especially when it's so darned COLD.) Back at you both. xxx

Wow Linda - you were there? That was the first 'official event' I ever did - tagging along with Penny, of course, as my first book hadn't even come out. That was just one of the many ways she guided and helped me, and I learned from just watching her. Thank you for your thoughts for her family. She's going to be so much missed.

*hugs Jan* I think she did. Her sister was tireless and so generous in passing on messages. And such was Penny's intuitive power I'm sure she would have felt it too. But still so SAD.

Jan Jones said...

Me too. Desperately so. :(

Trenda said...

I'm so very sorry, India. Hugs and warm thoughts coming to you from across the pond.

xx Trenda

Kristy Price said...

I'm so sorry to hear such sad news India. Penny was a wonderful writer. The first book I read of hers was Silver - I was in my first year at University - and it had a real impact on me. I absolutely loved it and have loved her work since.

I'm sending my hugs too on this cold and stormy day.

Lots of love

Julie said...

When I read the news that Penny Jordan had passed away, I was shocked, stunned and so sad. Her books have been a part of my life for so long. I'd loved her Caroline Courtneys, devoured every single Penny Jordan M&B I could get my hands on and bought, loved and enjoyed her women's fiction titles and the Annie Groves sagas. She was a wonderful storyteller who has given millions of people so much pleasure. The world of romantic fiction has lost a legend, but the legacy she left behind will bring us comfort and continue to leave us enthralled for many more years to come. Rest in peace, Penny.

Sending warm hugs to you, India. You and Penny's family and friends are in my thoughts and prayers.


Susie Vereker said...

I remember Penny telling me what a good writer she thought you were.
It's so hard to believe she isn't here any more.

Sharon Kendrick said...

This is the most beautiful and moving tribute to Penny and thank you for writing it. I share your sorrow, India - and yet it still feels so strange, as if it can't possibly be true.
Your friendship with her was very special and what you've written makes me realise how endlessly patient she was. I was always ringing her for advice and she would always say something which cheered me up - never sounding for a moment as if she needed cheering up herself. I can't believe I'll never hear her saying "Hel-LOW" in that warm and distinctive way she had.
I will miss her more than words can ever say - but even as I write that I can hear her saying "oh, don't talk such rubbish!"
So I guess the best thing to do is to remember all the lovely and funny and special things about her - and keep her memory alive that way.
Love and hugs to you.
Sharon xxxx

Abby Green said...

Sending you a big fat hug, she'll still be with you, you know. In your ear with that gorgeous Lancashire accent, saying 'you don't need me to tell you this!'
xx Abby

India said...

I'm terribly grateful to you all for your kindness - thank you so much for the comments and hugs and thoughts, and for sharing the sadness. It's always wonderful to hear which of her books made a particular impression. There are still so many that I haven't read, and Silver is one of them Kristy. It's something to look forward to.

Julie, that was so beautifully put and you're absolutely right - she has left behind an astonishing and wonderful legacy, and it's wonderful to be able to carry on hearing her voice in her books. This Christmas I've been reading her latest Annie Groves, 'Home for Christmas.' It's been a great comfort.

Susie, it's incredibly kind of you to say that - THANK YOU. I know what you mean about not believing she's gone. Part of me wants to keep on feeling that way.

Oh Sharon, I know - and she would have rationalised that patience by saying that she was the oldest child in her family and so it came naturally to her to take responsibility. I've got to admit 'Don't talk such rubbish' has made me smile - that's EXACTLY what she would have said - I can hear it now. I will remember her every day that I sit at my computer and start to write. 'You've just got to keep going'; that's what she used to say. 'Write the best books you can.'

India said...

Ha Abby - crossed post, but how's that for great minds thinking alike! xxxx

CC MacKenzie said...

I honestly do not know what to say, India.

Her work stands as a legacy to her family and her readers. I adored her alpha males, her heroines who were truly heroic and her emotional conflicts that always hit the spot.

None of us can possibly know how much she meant to you.

But what's so amazing to me is that she'll continue to inspire and exist through her writing. And also in yours, because everything she ever told you will still be there in your work. When I imagine her, I hear her saying never give up and don't overthink it. You told me that at a workshop in Nantwich, and I bet Penny spoke those words to you.

Every day you sit in front of your keyboard you honour her, India. With every book you sell you honour her. But you honour her even more by simply being yourself and being the very best writer you can be.

I've been thinking of you for days since I heard the news and how heartbreaking it must be to lose your mentor.

She was a wonderful woman who recognised and developed talent. So go forth and prosper, she'd be chuffed to bits.


Julie Cohen said...

So sad.

But what a beautiful gift she gave you. And you gave it back to her in return. She told me once that she loved nothing better than to see a promising writer succeed.

Many hugs and love

Julie xx

Sarah Morgan said...

Sending you hugs India. It's terribly sad. I'm sure Penny had so much pleasure from watching you develop into the wonderful writer that you are.

Sophie Pembroke said...

So very sad to hear the news of such a huge loss - especially to you, and her family. Thinking of you.

Carole said...

So very sad. I will always remember Penny as a wonderfully warm person, whose endless enthusiasm encouraged those in her writing group to believe in themselves. She will be missed.

Catherine J said...

Such sad news. Such a beautiful tribute. Thinking of you. Condolences.


Amanda Ashby said...

I'm still so devastated about Penny's death. It's been a few years since I saw her last but she has always been my inspiration not just in writing but in how one should live their life. Plus, she made the best tiramsu in the whole entire world.

lidia said...

India, your tribute to Penny is very special for the simple reason that she was a very special person in your life. That is very clearly shown from your loving words in her memory.

I know that I will really miss seeing her name on new HPs. However, she leaves a legacy of fabulous books that she's written. She will never be forgotten.

Sending many HUGS your way.

India said...

Christine, that's such an incredibly lovely post and absolutely true. I'm glad that you mentioned the workshop, because as you know that 'teaching' thing really isn't my strong point, but the only thing I think I might be able to pass on is what Penny gave to me - the belief that dreams can become reality. Thanks for your insight and your kindness.

Thank you Julie. You also have that special gift for nurturing and inspiring new writers. It's a magical quality.

Sarah, that's so kind. She was always so encouraging. I know how proud she was of Susan Stephens' incredible success as she initially mentored her too.

Thank you for your comments Sophie and Catherine. I'm sure Penny's family will be touched by the thoughts and messages from all over the romance community. xx

Carole, it was the time and encouragement she gave that was so valuable, wasn't it? We were lucky to have had the chance to know her.

Amanda - I'd forgotten about the tiramisu, but yes! Gosh, I remember those parties. She had talked so much and so enthusiastically about you and kept saying 'you'll LOVE Amanda'. Of course, she was right, and that was another of her gifts - to bring people together. (And now I'm missing you and wanting tiramisu. Wah!)

Lidia, the hug is very much appreciated - and returned, as I know that you'll miss Penny's voice in her books. It's comforting to be reminded of her legacy though. Thank you.

Caroline said...

Posting late - sorry - but (((hugs))). She was a lovely lady. Caroline x

India said...

Thanks for coming at all Caroline - the hugs are very much appreciated. She was a truly inspiring person. xx