I’m so pleased that today’s guest can make it. She also attended my very first party – the launch for my first Medical Romance, A Baby of Her Own, at Ottakars (now Waterstones) in Norwich back in November 2002. It was well above and beyond the call of duty, because it was a stormy day and some of the roads were closed and the trains were delayed… and she also couldn’t get home to London that night as all the trains were cancelled. Naturally, when she asked me to recommend a hotel, the answer was, ‘You’re coming home with us!’ My daughter (then just about two) remembers her as ‘the lady with lovely hair’.
Jenny Haddon has been the chair of the RNA for the last couple of years, and when I first met her in person she was in an organising role. (Yes, you know what's going to come next.) She was the organiser of the Mills and Boon author lunch, and very kindly took me under her wing when I was a bit overawed. (Sitting me next to Kate Walker was an excellent move... as you'll hear later.)
Jenny’s great company. She’s very, VERY clever (an Oxford graduate but you have to stick pins in her to make her admit it: she has no airs and graces. Oh, and she floored Jeremy Paxman on University Challenge, so an awful lot of people will love her forever for that), as well as erudite and charming. She’s a real champion of romance and she argues her case brilliantly. (See http://www.jennyhaddon.com/otellme.html if you want to know more.) She writes lovely romances for M&B as Sophie Weston (and she pushes boundaries, too). She’s co-written a guide to punctuation for adults who want to know why as well as where to put the damn things, Getting the Point. She’s also the person who bought me the feather boa Sarah Morgan referred to… because she overheard me saying that I’d always wanted one. It just arrived in the post, no fuss, with the most lovely little note – because Jenny’s one of these people who notices things and does something about it. And I’m proud to call her one of my friends.
So here’s Jenny Haddon:
I first met Kate Hardy on the Romantic Novelists’ Association’s cyber chapter, when she set a fiendish quiz for a charity fund raiser. I realised then that she was a woman of wide interests and absolutely no restraint – just the recipe for a successful writer.
But even so, her first book, A Baby of Her Own, blew me away. It had everything: a strong intrinsic and multi-layered conflict between hero and heroine, great characters, utterly believable world, page turnability by the bucket load and that Extra Something.
It’s really difficult to say what the Extra Something is but, by golly, you know it when you see it. I did when the heroine, Jodie, gets her courage together and risks telling Sam that she loves him and thinks he loves her: ‘Unless that was just –‘ her voice wobbled ‘-- wishful thinking.’ Realising that they have to talk somewhere where they won’t be interrupted, Sam agrees to have dinner at her place. And then Jodie gets into a flat panic about cooking.
Oh yes, I thought, there it is. The Extra Something. Our human ability to brave the big stuff and collapse over trivialities. Been there, done that.
The smack of real life, which makes the happy ending so satisfying – that’s what Kate’s novels have had, right from that first one. And they just get better and better. So I’m really looking forward to Breakfast at Giovanni’s.
Happy 25th Kate. And many more.
GIVEAWAY: Jenny’s giving away a duo about two step sisters, The Millionaire’s Daughter and The Bridesmaid’s Secret and a short story collection, Sexy Shorts for Christmas. (There’s also a free read on her website - and I really recommend this)
GIVEAWAY QUESTION: What do you think is that Extra Something in the work of your favourite writers?