Monday, February 04, 2008

The RNA Awards Lunch (long post!)

It's late, I'm not long home from London (the train was late) and I'm a bit wired, so I've made myself a cup of tea... and as I know a few people are dying to hear what happened...

What an amazing weekend.

The journey to London was fine (especially as I got to read Julia Williams’ lovely debut, Pastures New) and had a lovely meal out that evening with my best friend and another of our oldest friends from university.

Monday dawned bright and sunny, and I headed in to town. Met up with my fellow Modern Heat author Heidi Rice for coffee at St Pancras (waves to Heidi - thank you for the coffee), then off to Kensington to find the hotel. Met lovely Roger Sanderson on the high street and then Ray-Anne; and the second we walked in (on the red carpet)... Wow! As one of the shortlisted authors I was suddenly very busy doing photo calls and interviews. Met up with loads of people I knew - lovely in particular to see Jan again - and all the hugs and congrats on the shortlisting were so very much appreciated.

It was lovely to see my fellow shortlisters too - Liz Fielding, Fiona Harper and Julie Cohen (I'll post Julie's pic a little further down the page ... well, you'll see why when you get there). Lucy Gordon somehow managed to escape my camera lens!

Saw my lovely editor Sheila and my wonderful agent Dot. Then in for lunch - and all the shortlisted authors had the most beautiful deep red single rose with a very sweet message from Catherine Jones, the RNA chair. That was such a lovely, thoughtful touch.

The staff all had very smart uniforms and white gloves, and the way they came into the dining room was sheer pageantry.

Lunch was scrummy. Now, I thought either Lucy Gordon or Liz Fielding would win... But just in case there were more photos afterwards (and because I am very clumsy and prone to spilling things) I decided to pass on the tomato and cumin soup. The guinea fowl was lovely, as was the mulled wine soufflé with plum ice cream.

And then it was time for the winners of the Romance Prize to be announced. Trisha Ashley was the chair of judges and told us what they thought of the shortlisted books. They described Breakfast at Giovanni’s as ‘warm and engaging’, which pleased me hugely. The judges said their decision was unanimous and I was getting ready to applaud the winner... and then Trisha mentioned the word ‘warm’ again. Followed by ‘realistic ending’.

Now, this is what my editor and agent always say about my books. Warm with a 'real life' feel.

And even as I was thinking, ‘no, it can’t be,’ Trisha announced that the winner of the Romance Prize 2008 was...

Kate Hardy.

It took a few moments to sink in. (As you can see from the pic below… - me saying to my lovely ed Sheila, did they really say me? , Karin Stoecker and Liz Fielding)

I remember welling up. I don’t remember getting on the stage and Trisha handing me the Betty Neels rosebowl.

But then it was me and the microphone. Making a speech.

I did manage to thank my wonderful editor and agent and my husband and the judges. I wasn’t expecting to win so I hadn’t prepared a speech. I really should also have thanked the RNA, certain authors who took me under their wing when I was a newly published M&B author (Liz Fielding, Jenny Haddon and Kate Walker), my mum (who always said I’d make it and I wish I could share this with her in person as well as spirit), my fellow shortlisted authors and my readers (without whom I wouldn't be here). So I’m saying thank you now and apologising for my poor manners.

I was just so proud and so thrilled that the words wouldn’t come out properly - they did come straight from the heart, though. I remember people clapping, and people came up to me afterwards to say they had a lump in their throat or I’d reduced them to tears (ha, Kate Hardy’s trademark weepie strikes again).

Helen Lederer made a fabulous speech (she was witty and sweet and judged the length perfectly rather than rambling – judging by this standard, her book will be v enjoyable), and the Romantic Novel of the Year Award went to Freya North, who made a gorgeous speech.

And then it was more photographs and interviews, and when the journalists realised I hadn’t had a chance to tell Gerry and the kids, they persuaded me to ring him. Gerry was driving the kids home from school, so I spoke to son, who relayed the message and there were all these screams and cheers from husband and kids... Just fantastic.

I got a chance to share a hug with my wonderful, supportive agent. (Apparently my speech made her cry. But she deserves her share of the glory and I was jolly well going to make sure she got it.)

And with my fellow shortlisted author Julie Cohen (now you can see why I didn't post this one earlier - would've given the game away a bit).

Thank you to everyone who came up to me and congratulated me. And to the RNA. (And to all the nice people in the pub afterwards who bought me drinks, and the guy with the guitar who came up and shook my hand - very appropriate, given what my lovely Giovanni does for a living.)

Then I met Fi, had something to eat at Liverpool Street, then caught the train home. In London, people tend to avoid your eye on the tube. But I think they saw the rose and the helium balloons and the wide smile on my face and judged correctly that I was celebrating - and they all smiled back at me.

It's been such a very special day. Up there with my wedding and the days my children were born and the day my first M&B was accepted. And it's my proudest career achievement to date.

Thank you.


Robyn Grady said...

Oh, Kate, what a wonderful night! Thanks for sharing. I'll be smiling all day for you. Congratulations again!
Robbie x

carol marinelli said...

You've made me cry just reading that!!! Well done you!
You're star
Carol xxx

Natalie Anderson said...

All smiles here too - wonderful news Kate!!! And thanks for the pics and write-up - it looks fabulous :)

Yay you!

Natasha said...

Congratulations!!! Just wish I'd been there to give you a hug.

Lynne Marshall said...

Now you've gone and made me cry! I am so grateful to you for sharing the afternoon so thoroughly on your blog. Since I'm all the way in California, I really feel left out!

So happy for you, Kate! Congratulations.

Katie_S said...

Congratulations! You deserve it - Breakfast at Giovanni's was a great read! Well done! And I'm chuffed because I managed to pick up a 2nd hand copy of A Baby of Her Own today! Cheers, Katie

Fiona Lowe said...

Kate! Kate! Kate!

what a fabbo report, I felt like I was there. I'm alternating between squealing with joy and a quiet tear cos I know how much this all means to you.

Fiona xx

Amanda Ashby said...

Kate, now I feel all teary!!!! I'm sending major congratulations over from NZ and am soooooo happy for you. Also, I just wanted to say how great you looked in all the photos - your hair is lovely that length.

Jenna Bayley-Burke said...

Congrats, hon!

And you know...I think taking the RNA prize on the train is the utmost in personal promotion. Forget leaving your books places, just carry that thing around!

Christina Phillips said...

Aw Kate, huge congrats! What lovely photos and you look gorgeous. Wish I could've been there to give you a hug!

Trish Morey said...

Wow, what a fabulous day, thanks for sharing, I'm grinning from ear to ear.

Congratulations Kate! Enjoy your win!

Anne McAllister said...

Fabulous news, Kate. Soooo happy for you. Can hardly wait to read Giovanni.

Michelle Styles said...

Totally impressed that you managed the photos and everything.
It is a well deserved win. Breafast at Giovannis is a lovely book and my copy is well read. It is a warm book with lots of heart.

Nicolette said...

Congratulations, Kate! The award was totally deserved, it's such a great book! Well done. I particularly liked the photo of you saying "is it me? Me?" That's beautiful.

Amy Andrews said...

I'm with the cryers. Your blog made me very weepy!!
Such a great acievement Kate. Well done you.
Here's to many more successes with your fabulous books.

Liz Fielding said...

Fabulous, fabulous day, (((Kate))) and a perfect result. Lumps in throats and tears all round.

Ray-Anne said...

I was so thrilled to be there to see you accept the award.
Stunning! Many congratulations. Ray-Anne

Nell said...

Hugs and congratulations!!! Love the report and it's very wierd standing up there with all those people looking at you. I can't remember a word of my speech except thinking I must remember to thank the RNA and the judges so I know how disconnected that feeing is. So happy for you and so well deserved!

Brigid Coady said...

Congratulations Kate! I'm glad I got a chance to hug you yesterday. Thanks for the photos so I saw what I missed.
And thank you for my autographed copy of Breakfast at Giovanni's!!
Biddy xxx

Sue said...

Wow, Kate, you've made me feel like I was there, thank you!

MEGA congratulations, I'm so thrilled for you. I adored the gorgeous Giovanni and loved everything about the book. I'm so happy for you that the story received the credit it deserved.

Thanks for sharing the fabulous photos - you all looked amazing!

Lots of love,

Shirley said...

Many congratulations, Kate. I'm absolutely thrilled for you. (And I'm welling up just reading about it. :o))
One for the turkeys, eh?

Nicola Marsh said...

Huge, huge, HUGE congrats, Kate!!!
I'm so thrilled for you.
And thanks for a fab report...brought a lump to my throat reading it.
Enjoy your very special award :)
Nic x

Phillipa said...

Kate, I've enjoyed reading your post so much. Many many congratulations. P x

Rachel said...

Dear Kate,
lovely happy tears here for you! Congratulations, it is a wonderful book and you looked absolutley wonderful yesterday. I want those pearls...
Lots of love,

Maggie Kingsley said...

What can I say that everyone else hasn't? I've been champing at the bit for the last few days, unable to phone or email anyone 'cos my phone went down in the blizzards of last weekend but I am so, *so* proud of you, and your mum would have been the proudest of all. Enjoy your success. Tell everyone and anyone you meet about what you've won. It truly couldn't have happened to a a nicer person and you deserve it!
Maggie Kingsley

Anonymous said...

Pat says:

I've said it a couple of times already - but can't say it enough!

Well done, huge congratulations and you really do deserve it.


Diane said...

Fabulous news - and the best you could have received on top of the rotten year you've already had. I would have added my congratulations yesterday to the others, but I wanted to let you have your formal announcement first. Well done, love. x

India said...

You're a star!

(and your hair looked gorgeous!)


Kate Hardy said...

Thanks, everyone. I don't think I've quite taken it in, yet. I'm alternately smiling my head off and crying and the dog thinks I've gone mad - I'm just so happy and so thrilled and this really is a dream come true.

Margaret McDonagh said...

Kate, I am just bursting with happiness for you! It is such brilliant news and you so deserve this special moment, especially after the difficult weeks you have been through. You've brought so much pleasure to so many readers through your books, myself included, and on top of that you are a wonderfully generous and thoughtful friend.

Many, many congratulations. Enjoy every moment.

Mags xx

Fiona Harper said...

If making me well up on the day wasn't bad enough, now you've made me go all misty reading your blog! Bad girl! (But really fab girl, really - hee hee.) Well done again!

Portia Da Costa said...

Congratulations on your win! It couldn't happen to a nicer and more deserving author. :)

Sounds like it was a lovely day all round too.

carolwarham said...

Many congratulations, loved reading the post and seeing the pics

BKB said...

Congrats, Kate. You deserve it. You're books are absolutely wonderful.


Lou Gagliardi said...

Congratulations Kate! I am so happy to hear you won. I have my toes and fingers crossed after I found out that you were shortlisted

Donna Alward said...

Well, you didn't just reduce the room to tears but me as well.

Congratulations again, Kate. You SO deserve the accolades and I couldn't be happier. I only wish I could have been there!

Lucy Diamond said...

WOW! Well done, Kate. Brilliant news - oh, what a great post, I loved reading this!
Many congratulations.

Kate Hewitt said...

So lovely and beautiful!!! Thanks for giving us all the details.

Kate Hewitt

Trish said...

I'll say it yet again hun HUGE CONGRATS and really really couldnt have happened to a nicer person!!!

Hoping to be able to give you a hug in person in a couple of days!!!

Gazillions of H's & K's

Saskia Walker said...

Many, many congratulations, Kate!!!

Anonymous said...

Congratulations Kate. Really looking forward to reading it when it comes out in the States.


You looked lovely by the way!

Colin said...

Congratulations Kate!! What fantastic news!!

Judy Jarvie said...

Fantastic news Kate and huge congratulations. Thanks for such a lovely account of a truly special day. You deserved very bit of it. j

Kate Hardy said...

OK – now I’m going to say thank you properly for the comments and apologies but it’s going to read like an Oscar list (but it’s a lot more sincere as I’m not a luvvie)/

So hugs and thank you to:

Robbie (bless you for still being awake when I was overexcited and bursting to tell the MX girls the news), Carol (you’re a star too), Nat (and YOU write fast with twice as many children, half the age of mine), Natasha (we’ll do the hug in September), Lynne (you have to come over to AMBA in September one year), Katie (hope you enjoy Baby – the one that started it all), Fiona (squeal away, hon), Amanda (and thanks for the thumbs-up on Dougal), Jenna (it was wrapped up safely, honest), Christina (me too), Trish (one of these days – and hey, the pearls were lucky – remember the Broome conversation?), Anne (end of this month…), Michelle (you’re lovely), Nicolette (thanks, and I was that surprised!), Amy (yours make me cry too), Liz (was so lovely to see you), Ray-Anne (great to meet you on a red carpet – now how cool is that?), Nell (yes, ISN’T it weird?!), Biddy (so pleased I got to see you too – enjoy the book), Sue (and thanks for the lovely review you gave Gio), Shirley (yep, definitely something to scare the turkeys of doubt away), Nic (really appreciated), Pip (shame I didn’t get to meet you – maybe at the conference), Rach (thanks, and I can tell you the website… they do pink and lavender ones as well), Maggie (oy, you’ve made me well up again), Pat (and you were the first to meet him!), Diane (big hugs back to you), India (and thank you for the pep talk on my SuperDougal day), Mags (and so are you), Fiona (and it was so good to see you – and your lovely Radley bag *g* - now what else can I be a bad influence about?), Wendy (thanks, hon – and you were the one who introduced me to Dot so thank you very much for that), Carol (thanks and hugs), Barbara (you’ve made my day – so glad you enjoy them), Lou (you’re such a sweetie!), Donna (I wish you’d been there, too!), Lucy (big hugs), Kate H (I’m going to have to revert to calling myself Scary Kate, aren’t it? *g*), Trish (as with Natasha, hang on till September then it’s with interest!), Saskia (big hugs), Chris (thanks, I hope you enjoy it too), Colin (hugs), Judy (thanks so much).