FORMER pharmacist Dr Ray-Anne Lutener has found the right formula for a successful new career as a romantic writer.
Dr Lutener, who grew up in Alnwick in Northumberland, now writes full time for Harlequin Mills and Boon under the pen name of Nina Harrington.
Her most recent book, Blind Date Rivals, was published last month and she is working on novel number 10.
Dr Lutener graduated in pharmacy in 1979 at Sunderland University and returned 10 years later to lecture in the subject.
She then spent 13 years working as a scientist in the pharmaceutical industry before leaving to try her luck as a novelist.
“I wanted to realise my dream and focus on my writing with crime and romance my two favourite subjects,” said Dr Lutener, who went to Alnwick’s Our Lady’s Convent High School.
“I have always had a passion for books and was at Alnwick library every day as a child and as a teenager,” she said.
After six years without her work being published, she landed a contract with Mills and Boon in 2008.
Her first book Always the Bridesmaid was published in July 2009 and has been followed by titles including Hired: The Sassy Assistant, The Last Summer of Being Single and Her Moment in the Spotlight.
Dr Lutener’s books have now been translated into 17 languages and sell in 20 countries.
Tomorrow she will return to Sunderland once more to give a speech on her dramatic career change titled Potions to Passion at the annual Hope Winch Dinner at the Stadium of Light.
The event commemorates Hope Winch, who 90 years ago was appointed as the first full-time lecturer in pharmacy at Sunderland Technical College.
The Hope Winch Society is an association of ex-students and staff of Sunderland Schools for Pharmacy and Pharmacology, and the university’s largest alumni group.
Dr Lutener said: “After leaving the pharmaceutical industry I gave myself five years to learn the writing craft. I knew it wasn’t going to be easy but I was determined.
“The first time I saw one of my books on sale in Tesco, I was made up. The Mills and Boon romances are escapism and are feel-good fiction and an upbeat read.”
A contract to deliver a set number of books per year means a disciplined approach is necessary.
“Working in pharmacy helped with the discipline and you have to treat the writing as a job and be professional,” said Dr Lutener. You have to write a certain number of words each day to meet the deadline.
“My goal is to create stories filled with hope and love wrapped up in a warm smile.”