Glamour, champagne, pink balloons and sky-high heels – all the hallmarks of a fabulous Romantic Novelists’ Association party were firmly in evidence last night.
I was lucky enough to be invited to the RNA’s summer bash in London, where Sky News presenter Kay Burley was on hand to present the prestigious Romantic Novel of the Year award.
Kay, whose second book, Betrayal, is out next week, wore a chic, sleeveless dress and confessed that she was still learning her craft as a novelist. “Romance is so difficult to write,” she said, “especially if you have a teenage son who is embarrassed at everything you do.” She added that romantic fiction is one of the biggest-selling genres today and the minute she got home she was going to get all five shortlisted romantic novels on her Kindle. “It’s no surprise my name isn’t on the shortlist,” she quipped. “But there’s always next year.”
Kay whizzed through the five contenders – Christina Courtenay, Katie Fforde, Caroline Green, Jane Lovering and Rosie Thomas - at top speed and then declared the winner. It was debut author Jane Lovering, for Please Don’t Stop the Music. I reviewed Jane’s novel a week or so ago and it’s a pacy, snappily-written novel that boasts some great laugh-out-loud moments and some dark moments too. I warmed to Jane immediately when she scooped RNA’s romantic comedy novel prize a couple of months back and declared: “It’s taken me 25 years of writing to publish a book. If I can do it, anybody can. So go for it, girls!”
But no one looked more stunned than Jane (above) last night when she was announced as the Romantic Novel of the Year winner and Kay Burley presented her with her prize – a large glass trophy.
“Oh my God,” said Jane shakily, her bright red hair gleaming under the lights. “Don’t give me a big glass bowl. Me and a big glass bowl aren’t a good idea. If anyone had told me ten years ago in the middle of single parenthood and small children that I was going to win this award I would have wet myself. Quite frankly I still might!’”
Last night was a double celebration for Jane, a mother of five who works part-time as a science technician at a North Yorkshire secondary school. It was her daughter’s 16th birthday the same day and she was there to see her mum’s fantastic win. She must have been SO proud…
PS. As well as the Romantic Novel of the Year award, the party also saw the presentation of the RNA’s annual prize for the best in new writing. This year’s Joan Hessayon New Writers’ Scheme Award went to Evonne Wareham for Never Coming Home.
Please Don’t Stop the Music by Jane Lovering (Choc Lit, £7.99)
Never Coming Home by Evonne Wareham (Choc Lit, £7.99)