Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Congrats to India/RNA report (long post)

Current work: (taking a day off, as it’s my birthday)
Listening to: Joe Lynn Turner
Reading: Druin Burch, Digging up the Dead (bio of surgeon Astley Cooper – thoroughly enjoyed it, and learned some v interesting new things)

First off, congratulations to my mate India Grey on winning the RNA Romance Prize 2009 for her lovely book ‘Mistress: Hired for the Billionaire’s Pleasure’ – I’m so pleased for her! She’s a great writer AND she’s also a lovely, lovely person, so it’s well deserved.

Monday opened with freezing fog, so it was an unpleasant school run. It had all burned off by the time my taxi arrived; picked up a copy of the EDP (and lovely Emma had done me a fabulous piece) and a latte. Easy journey in (with Astley Cooper's biography - v enjoyable read); and I was pleasantly surprised when a man gave me his seat on the tube. (Either manners are improving, or I looked tired... And, as he looked to be in his early 20s, it rather chastened me to think I could technically be his mother's age. Am probably officially middle-aged now, anyway.) To M&S in Marble Arch to get some boots and then a salmon salad in their café. I always forget that the arch was built on the site of Tyburn. (Lightbulbs flickering.) And then I dodged the rain to visit the Wellcome Museum. (Medical history fascinates me. It's an area I intend to work in more in the future.) Except... Clearly I misread their website, as it turned out that the exhibitions were closed on Mondays. Spent a while enjoying their Virtal library, then headed for the café and a chance to do some work on the current synopsis. (It was pouring with rain, or I would've gone exploring.) Met Fi and Liz - dinner at Strada was scrummy, particularly the panna cotta. Much talking...

And then it was Tuesday.

So how does it feel, being on the shortlist at an awards do?

It's a real mixture of emotions. Pride (and a fair sprinkle of 'I'd better pinch myself and wake up now') that someone rates your work so highly. Delight, because you know you'll get the chance to catch up with friends you haven't seen for a while. Worry that you're going to make a fool of yourself - that you're going to spill something down yourself or fall over, while everyone's watching you. (That one’s probably personal paranoia as I’m a tad – all right, a lot – on the clumsy side.)

And then there's the moment when the chief of judges steps up to the podium and reads through the shortlist, saying what the judges thought of each. That's when your heart starts beating so hard that you're sure people will hear it. (That is humanly possible - according to Druin Burch, in Georgian London, a man once crossed the street to ask politician John Thelwall what the noise was, and his wife once woke him to say that someone was hammering on the door.)

Anyway, on Tuesday morning I was very relieved to see that the threatened snow hadn't materialised. Fi took my case, but at King's Cross I discovered that the Circle line was out of action. Caught the District line to Edgeware Rd, then luckily there was a train to High Street Kensington - and, hooray, no rain, so it was a pleasant walk to the Royal Garden Hotel.

Went to change my boots and raincoat to my shoes and posh jacket; met up with lovely Fiona Harper, Beth Elliott and Jessica Hart. (LTR - Beth, Fiona, Me, Jessica)

Poor India Grey was stuck on a train at this point - but finally made it. (Note how cool and beautiful and dignified she looks in the pic below. I'd be a gibbering wreck if my train was delayed by 90 minutes and I was on the shortlist of an awards do...)
Phil, our very witty photographer, took photos of the shortlistees; then we went through to the main area, where I had a chance to talk to my lovely editor and wonderful agent, and catch up with mates including Jan Jones,
Milly Johnson, Sara Craven, Joanna Maitland, Heidi Rice, Gill Sanderson, Julie Cohen, Ray-Anne Lutener (yeah yeah, so am namedropping) etc etc. Also lovely to meet up with new friends (waves to Jo Brown) and my lovely former editor Emma. It was a fab, fab day and many thanks to the organisers – that kind of event means a LOT of hard work beforehand, and I really appreciated it.

Lunch was utterly fab - from the table setting (and thank you to the RNA for the lovely rose they gave all the shortlisted authors)
to the food itself: Scottish salmon parfait with tuna tartar and crème fraiche caviar

followed by fillet of chicken filled with a Paris mushroom mousse, marsala cream sauce, marquis potates and sugar snap peas

and then bitter lemon tart with crème fraiche sorbet and raspberry jelly. (All beautifully presented, and beautifully cooked.)

And then it was the moment - Margaret James, chair of the judges, took the stage and our book covers all came up on the screens behind her.
Margaret has a quiet voice, so I didn't quite catch what the judges said about my book (other than the bit about my hero was even nice to the heroine's dog - so if anyone can quietly tell me, it would be appreciated) - but I was so thrilled for my mate India Grey when her name was read out as the winner of the RNA Romance Prize 2009. Congrats, India!

Judy Piatkus was given the inaugural lifetime achievement award and made a lovely speech. (Pic is Catherine Jones, RNA chair, on the left, and Judy on the right.)
Then the main award was won by Julia Gregson, who also made a moving speech.

Walked back to the Tube with my mate Carol Townsend, quick coffee, then faced tube delays back to Bloomsbury. Dinner with Fi at Liverpool Street station, and then home. And, yup, the train was delayed… But my cabbie was lovely – a book-lover with a very eclectic taste, so we had a great chat all the way home.

Today, I’m knackered! But I need to print out my manuscript for my agent, check I’ve transferred all my files, drop my PC in to my lovely tecchies, mosey into town to the Pandora shop (thank you, luvverly family and friends, who’ve clubbed together to buy the bead I really want but know is disgracefully expensive), and… well, see what I feel like and what the weather’s doing.


Liz Fielding said...

Thanks so much for all the pics and news of the days for those of us who couldn't make, Pam.

Weeping into my laptop, here, as I look at all that scrumptious food while nibbling on a blueberry muffin.

Julie Cohen said...

It was great to see you and you looked fab!

Nicola Marsh said...

Fabulous wrap up, thanks for letting me get there vicariously.

And you looked fab too!

As for that food...yum!!!

Rachel said...

Thanks for the brilliant report, Kate. It looked fabulous, as did everyone there.

Have a great birthday!


liz fenwick said...

It was a wonderful day and great to see you :-)

Anonymous said...

Gillie B x

Michelle Styles said...

Happy Birthday and thank you for the lovely report.

Nell Dixon said...

Thank you for the lovely report, I need to live vicariously and that was so lovely.

Jessica Matthews said...

Thanks for the detailed report, Kate. You made me feel as if I were there! And I'm so impressed that you thought to photograph the food...makes my celery and carrot sticks look positively boring!

Kate Hardy said...

Liz - I did miss you.

And the food was even better than last year's. (That pudding was just fabulous.)

Kate Hardy said...

Julie - fab to see you, too! (And I *loved* your shoes.)

Kate Hardy said...

Nic - thanks!

The food was gorgeous - that strip around the mangetout was the thinnest, most perfect membrane of leek.

Kate Hardy said...

Rach - thanks!

Kate Hardy said...

Liz - certainly was, and it was great to see you, too. (Not enough time to chat, though!)

Kate Hardy said...

Gillie - thank you!

Kate Hardy said...

Michelle - thank you :o)

Kate Hardy said...

Nell - missed you there - glad the report helped.

Kate Hardy said...

Jessica - absolutely photographing the food. DH hates it when I do that. But I guess all editors know that their authors are... No, let me rephrase that. My editor and agent both know I'm eccentric and, ahem, fond of food. Therefore food pics :o)

Debs said...

Happy Birthday, and thank you for the fabulous report.

Lynne Marshall said...

Belated Happy Birthday, Kate!

I love living vicariously through you blog. It's the only way I can afford to participate in the annual RNA luncheon!

Thanks for sharing, and for writing such wonderful books.


Fiona Harper said...

Kate, I can let you know what the judges said about your book - I videoed it on my camera. I shall send you an email soon...

It was great to see you again! Next stop, AMBA!

x Fi

Carol Townend said...



Carol (shouting over the crowd)

Kimberly Lang said...

You looked lovely!

And what a fabulous lunch!

Kate Hardy said...

Debs - thank you :o)

Kate Hardy said...

Lynne - many thanks, and a big hug from me. (One of these days...)

Kate Hardy said...

Fiona - thank you! (I have pics to send you, too - Jan and Jessica H both sent me a really nice one of the two of us, so will forward... when I get my PC back later today)

Kate Hardy said...

Carol - thank you! (And thank you for the coffee yesterday, too :o) )

Kate Hardy said...

Kim - thank you! (And it tasted as good as it looked, too. Fabulous.)