Best Romance Novelist (2001)

Lorna Michaels, a.k.a. Thelma Zirklebach

Thelma Zirklebach looks like a sweet little lady who would pinch your cheek and ask you about your older brother. She's a speech pathologist who works a lot with children, is a member of Mensa and is all around a nice lady to talk to. You'd never know she writes smut novels. She's written Harlequin Temptations, Harlequin super-romances with titles like The Reluctant Hunk, and she just sold her 11th novel to Silhouette Intimate Moments. Her pen name comes from her children's first names. "They've always said they were going to change their names," she says. "But so far they haven't." Most of her novels take place in Houston or elsewhere in Texas. A decade ago, she wrote Harlequin's first Jewish heroine in Season of Light, a story about a woman on a business trip to her hometown who reunites with her family and the man she once loved. She also resolves a bunch of issues about the baby she gave up for adoption. "It's a Hanukkah story," Thelma says. "I just love happy endings. Things don't always turn out perfectly in real life. So it's nice to be involved in fantasy, where everything does turn out and everyone does live happily ever after."


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