It’s a week of love and lust at the Wheeler Centre this week. To celebrate – in addition to the fine roster of events they’re offering – they selected an excerpt from Kill Your Darlings Issue Two. Back in 1993, Ruth Starke won the national Woman’s Day/Mills & Boon ‘write-a-romance’ competition. Plucked from a pile of 4000 stories, hers was the one that caught the eye of the formidable editors at that wildly successful and picky publishing house. Ruth won accommodation at a five-star hotel ‘and about a litre of Elizabeth Taylor’s Passion’. On top of that, she secured a lunch meeting with senior Mills & Boon editorial staff.

With scandalised pleasure I cast my eye over the luncheon menu of one of London’s top restaurants, Stephen Bull of Mayfair. A bottle of Australian wine, which cost a few dollars at home, was the equivalent of $60; few main courses were under $50. ‘Order whatever you want,’ encouraged the senior editor, beckoning to the supercilious waiter with a rather flaky French accent. ‘This is our treat.’ The English professor, who had been eking out a sabbatical in grotty quarters in Finsbury Park when I called and asked if he’d like to have a free lunch in Mayfair, needed no encouragement. Nor did I: my last meal of any distinction had been served by Singapore Airlines. Double-baked cheese souffle, fried sweetbreads, fillets of red mullet and sardines, lobster risotto, summer vegetable salad, green grapes in caramel sauce, a stupendous creation of chocolate, whipped cream, chestnut puree and meringue… The total bill must have been eye-popping. Not that anyone cared. It was a cheerful meal and we all got steadily drunk. Insider information passed across the table, along with the condiments and the wine.

Issue Two Kill Your Darlings is available for purchase here or from any of our stockists.