In Memoriam: Carolyn Nichols

Romance has lost one of its pioneers, as Carolyn Nichols, legendary editor, passed away last week at age 78.

In the early ‘80s, Carolyn founded two imprints that helped change the landscape of the romance industry, “Second Chance at Love” at Berkley/Jove and “Loveswept” at Bantam, which published its first novel, Sandra Brown’s Heaven’s Price, in 1983.

Carolyn helped usher in a more modern era of romance, championing the single-title format and, as The Washington Post reported, more mature heroines. She is quoted as saying the novels in the “Second Chance at Love” line were “inching forward into the 20th century. They take into account that not every woman is able to identify with a trembling, 18-year-old virgin."

“I really think Loveswept changed the landscape of romance,” best-selling author Theresa Weir said in a 2012 interview on the Wonk-O-Mance blog, attributing this “breath of fresh air” to Carolyn.

“They removed the boundaries,” she said. “They encouraged writers to color outside the lines. The books were fresh and fun and fast and daring.”

Throughout her publishing career, Carolyn worked with such luminary authors as Iris Johansen, Nora Roberts, Danielle Steel, Kay Hooper, Tami Hoag, Janet Evanovich, Mary Kay McComas, Kristin Hannah, and Carla Neggers. She retired from NAL as Vice President and Executive Director, Editorial in 2001.

Outside of publishing, Carolyn was a political activist, writer, producer, model, and researcher.

In lieu of flowers, she requested contributions be sent for a scholarship established in her name at the Alvin Ailey Dance Company of New York for young dancers. Please donate to: “Carolyn McKnight Nichols Scholarship Fund,” Alvin Ailey Dance Theater Foundation, Attn: Marceen Lovelace, Joan Weill Center for Dance, 405 West 55th St. New York, NY 10019, or call 212-405-9033.

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