Last week was quite a week.
On Monday, I went up to London to attend the RNA’s Romantic Novel of the Year Lunch which took place on Tuesday at the Royal Garden Hotel in Kensington. It was a great event and thoroughly enjoyable for everyone who was there.
In spite of the weather and the travel difficulties, the room was full and buzzing with excitement. Last year, the tables had been decorated with balloons and streamers, straining for the ceiling. This year, there were scented candles floating lazily in large glass bowls, and arrangements of red and black ostrich feathers in matt black candelabra, looking like exotic head-dresses at some rather off-beat ball.
There were video screens, too, where we saw the covers of all the short-listed books and heard their titles and stories as we waited for the moment when the winners were announced. First, the winner of the Romance Prize — India Grey, for Mistress: Hired for the Billionaire’s Pleasure. Then, the winner of the Romantic Novel of the Year — Julia Gregson, for East of the Sun. You can see the winning authors, and read more about them, and the other finalists, on the RNA’s website here.
The RNA — which celebrates its 50th birthday in 2010 — has also inaugurated a Lifetime Achievement Award. The first recipient of the engraved star trophy was Judy Piatkus, a publisher who really believes in romantic fiction, and who gave many RNA members their start in publishing. If the audience’s reaction was anything to go by, her award was hugely popular.
Many historical authors were at the lunch. Among others, I saw Louise Allen, Anne Herries, Carol Townend, Mary Nichols, and Elizabeth Bailey, who also does a fantastic job as the RNA’s volunteer press officer. If you’ve seen newspaper articles about the award, raising the profile of romantic fiction, Liz probably had a hand in them.
And when I eventually arrived home, late on Wednesday, a box of author copies was waiting for me — the US edition of His Reluctant Mistress, which will be published in North America in April and in the UK in June. I will admit to having taken some out and stroked them. It doesn’t matter how many books I write, it’s still a thrill to receive real, printed copies and to know that the book will actually be out there for readers, I hope, to enjoy.