RNA awards lunch

Filed under: RNA, social life?

Oh, man, do I love the Romantic Novelists’ Association. Not only have they given me some of my best friends, and helped me hugely in my writing career, but they also really know how to throw a party.

After a frantic wardrobe consultation in the Starbucks across the street, Biddy and I strolled over the red carpet into the Kensington Garden Hotel yesterday morning to attend the RNA awards lunch. Because it was absolutely freezing, Biddy and I had to duck into the mirrored labyrinth of the ladies’ room to shed some layers and change into more suitable tights and shoes. Of course half the RNA, resourceful ladies that they are, were doing exactly the same thing. Mary Z, for example, turned up in perfectly ordinary clothes and then proceeded to pull the most gorgeous blue satin outfit out of her bag. I half-expected her to pull out a coat rack, a la Mary Poppins.

Then it was champagne all round in the foyer, meeting old friends and new ones, chatting with editors and my agent, and then we were called in to lunch. The tables were decorated with black candlabras and red and black ostrich feathers, but more impressive was the sight of a couple hundred romantic novelists dressed in their finest. This being the year of the Credit Crunch, conversations focused around the topic of how cheaply we got our outfits…two novelists, who shall remain nameless, found their fabulousness at Asda and Primark, a certain RVA VIP had picked up the most gorgeously sophisticated red shoes at M&S, and I personally was wearing a gold linen sale bargain.

Fortunately my agent was wearing an ivory silk blouse that probably cost millions and I believe my editor had just stepped off the catwalk in Milan.

The wine flowed and the food was delicious, and talking to other authors, I found to my great relief that a) every writer has lots of doubts and struggles, even if they are mega-bestsellers, and b) novelists will always admit that their spouses have a rough deal.

Then the awards were announced. The Romance Prize shortlist were all friends, and I was happy when the lovely India Grey was the winner (go read her speech on her blog). I have to admit that I hadn’t read the shortlist for the Romantic Novel award, but I was intrigued by all of them and I’m going to the library this weekend to pick up or order the lot of them, including East of the Sun by Julia Gregson, which won.

After the lunch, we made our way to the pub across the street where we took over the front room like a flock of beautifully-plumed wine-swilling exotic birds, and thence to dinner with Vicky, Gemma, Pia and a very nice Canadian woman who I realised very late on was Susanna Kearsley, one of the authors shortlisted for the main award. Caught the late train home and a taxi and poured myself into bed.

I might be a tiny little wee bit hungover today. Just a little bit. But it was worth it.

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  1. Lovely to see you, yesterday – looking VERY glam!

    I can highly recommend Judith Lennox’s book. And although I haven’t read Susanna Kearsley’s yet, I have read some of her backlist, and ‘The Shadowy Horses’ is a superb read.

  2. You did indeed look superly glamorous. I do love meeting up with everyone. Shame it can’t go on for the whole week, really.

  3. Dammit, I’ve got to make it next year! Sounds like a fab do. And I’m aaaall about the credit crunch glamour!

  4. It was wonderful to see as always – although I don’t recall that we managed more than a few words????

    Next time we will do better 🙂

    You were lovely gorgeous as always!


  5. Julie it was great to catch up on Tuesday and you were as lovely as always. If you had a hangover imagine what mine was like? Very sorry if I was sprouting loads of rubbish by the end, lunchtime drinking and moi clearly not a good mix. I really enjoyed our chat though and am delighted with my signed copy of Honey Trap.

    Strangely I woke up yesterday more motivated than I’ve been in a long time and I’m inspired to start an ms that was writing itself in my very sore head.

  6. I claim a place as accidental winner in the cheap outfit stakes. Talking to a friend yesterday, I realise I paid £10 for my top (Banbury Market)and £2 for my skirt (Next Warehouse). All because my expensive East ‘Awards Lunch’ outfit was just too flimsy to wear in the snow, and I had to grab something else in a hurry.

  7. I now have even more books to add to my tbr pile.

    The lunch was so well organized, as usual, and the food beautiful.

  8. The best thing about the credit-crunch glamour was that it was truly glamorous—nobody would ever guess that any novelist had spent less than hundreds on their outfits. You may have won, though, Jane…and rightly so, you looked fab and did a marvellous job organising. Thank you!

  9. Kate, you looked very elegant as usual and I’m glad you had a fab time. Thank you for the book recommendations! Congrats again for the shortlist.

    Jan I’d be up for an entire week at that hotel! 🙂

    Yes, Kate J, definitely come next year. It’s worth it.

  10. Liz, we were merely ships that pass in the night, but one day we’ll catch up again. Great pics on your blog.

    Carol, lunchtime drinking is a proud tradition of the RNA and I think you carried it through beautifully! Glad you’re inspired and it was good to see you.

    Debs, I saw your place card on the table but didn’t get a chance to catch up this time (see previous comment re. ships passing in night). Enjoy your reading!

  11. Hi, Julie!
    Glad you still thought I was nice even though I was in a bit of a wine-haze from lunch and had to really concentrate to keep from falling off my new high heels…

    Anyway, it was a pleasure meeting you as well. Just wish I’d realized who YOU were at the time, too — “Driving Him Wild” has been on my TBR list for a while now, I’ll definitely have to get round to it now!

  12. Hi Susanna! Nice to meet you online, too!

    Having trawled your website I’m very intrigued by several of your books and will have them in my sweaty hands soon!

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