Monday, July 07, 2008

conference, part 1 (Friday)

Current work: nonfic /MH duo book 2, chapter 1
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.


Heidi said...


Sounds like you had a hoot (a very tiring hoot). And, oh god, that snap of your student digs brings back memories. From what I can remember of being a student it wasn't just hard to sleep on those beds, it was pretty darn hard to do anything else.... Now, you see your talk of naughty conversations has got me started and I haven't even had a pint glass of wine..

Liz Fielding said...

Thanks for sharing, Kate. I really missed being there with you all. Look forward to hearing more.

And you're right about Sussex. Arundel is lovely and there's so much to see.

Kate Hardy said...

Heidi, it was fab. (And yes, if you'd been there...). BTW, it was a HALF pint glass. And it wasn't full when I started.

Liz - missed you, too.

Amy Andrews said...

RNA conference looks like a blast! July really is conference season for romance writers isn't it?

11 more sleeps until I hit SF and then our own conf in Melbourne a few weeks after that. But you're right, it's sooooo good catching up with friends, isn't it?

Great pics - can't wait to see more. Nice to see our Anna Jacobs there as well.

Biddy said...

It was great to see you! I wish we had been able to talk more! Can't wait for another chance to catch up with you.

Melissa Marsh said...

What an absolutely lovely time! I am jealous - it's been ages since I've interacted with other writers face-to-face.

Anonymous said...

I wish I was in England right now (despite being Scotch-Irish lol!); I think..and this is no offense to the American authors at all (though its hard to find romance writers in Pennsylvania), I think England, and the British Isles would inspire me so much more.

After reading your blog entry, I went and started look up info on the local RWA and stuff here.

Lynne Marshall said...

Hi Kate,

Thanks for letting me live vicariously through you. One day, I'd love to go to RNA conference. I'll have to re-join again, which is a challenge since they don't take credit cards! I had to send pounds through international mail last time! But I digress.

I look forward to more travels with Katie tomorrow.

Kate Hardy said...

Biddy, it was fab to see you and share your news (I have nice pics of you btw - will send 'em over).

Melissa - this is real refilling-of-well stuff. (And how many sleeps is it until you're over here?)

Lou - definitely, a local chapter group will give you loads of support and talking to other writers will really help.

Kate Hardy said...

Lynne, we just cross-posted! It's a fab conference, and it's also not too scary at around 150 people. (I don't think I could cope with the RWA as it's so big... and anyway when I do get to America Gerry and the kids will be coming with me.) And there are ways round it, i.e. a friendly English person who can work Paypal :o)

Heidi - I've just reread your post. ROFL. I still can't believe that Gerry came to stay with me for a week and we coped... I must've been a lot thinner than I think I was, in those days :o)

Judy Jarvie said...

Thanks Kate. I've been trawling blogs for conf info and yours came up TRUMPS. Wish I could've been there. One day (she dreams wistfully). Sounds like a fun and productive time. j

Julie Cohen said...

It was great to see you! And your talk was fab.

Anonymous said...

Yes, the red beacon in the room was EXTREMELY annoying and I lost sleep, but at least I did not have a corrupted SD card - what bad luck.
On your recommendation, I have already placed an online order for Liz Fielding's “Gentlemen Prefer… Brunettes”
And your equation for the conversation of romance writers? Spot on. Especially when you are sitting next to the gorgeous and talented - and imaginative- paranormal erotica authors.
What a blast of positive energy!:-)

Kate Hardy said...

Judy - glad you're enjoying my debriefs. It was a fab conf.

Julie - lovely to see you, too. Wish I could've stayed for yours, but I wouldn't have got home until stupid o'clock.

Ray-Anne - glad you enjoyed it. And that book is fab. (Liz is one of my absolute favourite authors. If I'm having a bad day... she's better than chocolate.)