So, on Thursday 22nd May the Romantic Novelists’ Association Joan Hessayon Award for New Writers was presented at their Summer Party in London. You may remember I’ve interviewed some of the contenders for the award over the past few weeks – and that I’m a contender myself, too, through my first novel, The Silk Romance :)
I live in Yorkshire in the north of England, on the edge of the moors, but on Thursday morning I swapped my dog-walking wellies for a pair of high heels and set off on the train for London. I was really excited about meeting all the other contenders in real life, and not just on cyber space, and about getting to talk writing and romance for a whole evening with people whose eyes won’t start glazing over :)
Ten minutes before the train pulled into King’s Cross, the heavens opened in a massive thunderstorm. Of course they did – it’s a summer party in England! I heard later that the Shard (a skyscraper near Tower Bridge) was actually struck by lightning, but at the time I was more concerned about preserving my hairdo than getting scorched. Luckily by the time we got the tube to our hotel the rain had stopped. (It’s possible to travel all round London on the Underground without ever surfacing onto the street, so at least that’s one way to avoid the downpours.)
The venue for the party was the Royal Overseas Club near St James’s Park, and when we set out for the walk from our hotel the skies had brightened. We had a gorgeous walk, as you can see from this photo:
And here’s the official photo of all the contenders. Can you guess which one I am?
Pia Fenton, who writes romance novels as Christina Courtenay, and is chair of the RNA, presented the award. Pia gave a short resume of all seventeen of our novels, describing The Silk Romance as ‘a thrilling read’. I can’t tell you how excited I was to hear my own novel described that way by Pia, and in front of the whole audience of editors, publishers and established authors.
Eventually the prize was awarded to the brilliant Jo Thomas, for her novel The Oyster-Catcher, a heart-warming romance with the west of Ireland as a setting. I’ve read Jo’s novel and thought it was a fabulous read, and not only that when I finally met Jo on Thursday she was absolutely delightful. Her next novel is set in an olive grove, and I’m really looking forward to release. You can find out more about Jo and her award-winning novel in this article in The Bookseller.
The whole evening was fun from start to finish, and besides making new friends I had the chance to discover some useful information through networking. I’ve mentioned before how hard it is sometimes for writers to be sitting at home alone all day, trying to motivate themselves, and trying to stay positive when faced with umpteen rejections and self-doubt. One of the things I’ve loved about being in the RNA is the renewed enthusiasm I always feel whenever I meet up with any of the fellow members. Not to mention the hangover :) It was a fab party – and now back to writing my next novel!