Listening to: Bach
Reading: Sharon Penman, The Sunne in Splendour
Back from Chichester, where I had a fabulous time. Thanks to lovely Jan Jones for organising such a wonderful event. I feel really energised, full of ideas, and raring to go - but I must admit that right now I'm also completely knackered after a weekend of way too much talking and very little sleep! I think the best thing about any conference like this is the chance to meet up with old friends, and also the chance to make new ones. Right from the start, there was a real buzz about the conference. (And it’s nice to know that authorial paranoia isn’t peculiar to me… and that others have it even worse than I do.)
I did write really detailed posts every night, while I was away... but then the SD card in my PDA decided to corrupt and I lost the lot. So this is a reconstruction from two days ago: apologies for anything missing!
The journey down took me about 4 1/2 hours. I was dreading the bridge; there was a huge queue and I had to drive really slowly across it, but my attention was pretty much taken up with making sure my car didn’t get squished by maniac male drivers wanting to push into the queue, so I didn't have time to stress about where I was. Hmm. Let’s just say I'm very glad I don't have to drive on the M25 all the time. However, the weather was on my side and the scenery was incredibly pretty - especially around Arundel Castle - so I’ve suggested to DH that we should go to Sussex next summer because it looks like a wonderful area to explore.
This was the block where I was staying (my window is middle floor, right hand side of the cream bit - I know this because I leaned out of said window to bellow hello to Julie Cohen the following evening):
It had this rather unusual atrium in the middle of each landing - imagine a four-sided pyramid with convex mesh sides. Course, Nerdy Kate I-love-architecture Hardy had to do the arty pic from the ground floor...
This was my room. Much swisher (and larger) than my own room as a student!
Though I’d stupidly forgotten to pack my pillow (lovely Fiona Harper and I really did have 'pillow talk', i.e. a conversation in the bar about the best pillows - she, being younger than I am and with a better memory, brought hers), and I’d also forgotten just how lumpy and narrow student beds are. Add the electricity meter with a really fierce red light on it on the wall right at the foot of my bed (so it glared at me all night, even when I put sticky notes over it to try blocking the light), and this is why Princess Kate didn't get a great deal of sleep…
Anyway. The conference began with a welcome by Sara Craven, the RNA vice chair, in this stunning conference room - the chapel. This doesn't do justice to the glass.
Then Jan gave the conference notices:
plus celebrations and milestones, and it was really lovely to be able to celebrate shortlistings and first sales. Then it was time for the panel: Nicola Cornick, Kate Harrison, Anna Jacobs, Kate Johnson, and me.
(LTR Sara Craven, me, Anna Jacobs.)
We were talking about what romantic fiction is, and we all started by introducing ourselves and the explaining what we write and why we chose that genre. Then it was time for questions. I can remember some of the questions and my answers, but I apologise for not remembering everyone else's!
First of all, what is my favourite book in my genre? I don't think my answer would surprise anybody who knows me. It's Liz Fielding's “Gentlemen Prefer… Brunettes”, which I think is the perfect category romance. The characterisation and dialogue are wonderful, the hero is someone you want to marry, the heroine is someone you want to be your best friend, and it has a wonderful feelgood happy ending. The and because I write as two people, I cheated and chose a second with my historian hat on: Diana Norman's “The Vizard Mask”, which again has wonderful characterisation, a hero to die for, and fantastic background.
If the current hero who in my work in progress came to life and beckoned me, would I? Well, what can I say?
Course I would!!! My husband is my research assistant, so he’s the hero in my head whenever I write certain scenes. (You think this is bad? Believe me, some of the discussions over the weekend were MUCH … Oh, use your imaginations. I’m not telling. Just be aware that there is an equation: romantic novelists + wine = outrageous conversation.)
And what do I think romantic fiction is? I think it's about the journey. It's a short book, starting with the attraction, a conflict which keeps the hero and heroine parts, resolution, and the each the day.
There were other questions but from this sleep-deprived side of the weekend (the caffeine hasn’t kicked in yet) I can’t remember them. Sorry. Blame my SD card.
Then it was back to the kitchen in my house with Nicola Cornick, Sarah Morgan and editor Kim Young for a cup of tea (what was I saying about outrageous conversations? I should also mention my stomach hurts from laughing too much), followed by a glass of wine in the bar.
(That is indeed a half pint glass of wine - student bar, remember? - and my great friend Kate Walker NEVER OPENS HER EYES FOR PHOTOGRAPHS. Bad Kate. And I mean her, not me.)
Then dinner (what, Kate Hardy not describing the food? Yeah, there’s a reason for that – let’s just say the Wii said I lost 2lb when I stood on it today, though that is a Very Good Thing), another drink (mineral water, because I’m such a lightweight nowadays), and then the travelling hit me and I thought I’d go to bed at 11. Though it took me ages to drop off (it really didn't help that I had some fantastic books in my goodie bag, and shh, don't tell DH, but I bought the few at the book stall as well) and I was wide awake at four. Wrote a paragraph or two of the Modern Heat. (Eaten by the SD card, sob.)
But I think this post is long enough for now. I'll tell you all about Saturday tomorrow.