Monday, July 07, 2008

Well, what was romantic fiction?

Have just got back from RNA conference--well, not just, I had to watch Doctor Who first, obviously. Can I make a full report? No, my brain hasn't started working properly yet. The RNA conference is usually about two things: wine, and talking to other people who also hear the voices (in fact Nell Dixon has a t-shirt to that effect). Put the two together, and you don't get much sleep, especially in student accommodation with paper-thin walls (I hope to hell their library is quiet and conducive to study, because the student rooms aren't).

Anyway. I survived the author panel, which was the opening session and therefore at least over with quickly. Anne Ashurst did a brilliant job of keeping it moving and making sure all five of us answered each question, and in varying order. As we were first asked to talk about what sort of books we wrote and how we'd ended up writing them, I played the 'mis-spent youth watching Buffy and reading Terry Pratchett' card, which was sort of cheating as I'd already put that in my speaker bio for the conference notes.

Most of the questions weren't hard or scary, but being put on the spot is not my forte--when asked to name my favourite author in my own genre--paranormal romance in this case--my brain went dead and I couldn't think of one. It sort of went like this:

Me: Er, er, I hate being asked this question, er, well, my favourite paranormal author is Terry Pratchett, but that's not really romance--

Various Authors In The Audience: Which one? / Witches Abroad! / Wyrd Sisters!

Me: Yes, but the City Watch books are my favourite, Men at Arms and Thud! in particular.

Lynne Connolly: What about Kenyon?

Me: Oh God, thank you. Fantasy Lover! It's about a Greek demi-god who's cursed into a book as a sex slave, and whoever speaks the right incantation gets him as her slave.

V.A.I.T.A.: Collective sigh.


Question: What makes romantic fiction? What makes your books romantic?

O.A.O.P.: Very sensible answers about love and finding other half of soul, etc.

Me: I always think about what comes next. I hate books that are all grand and passionate but you can tell the characters are going to burn out. I always want to know what happens after the last page. Do they get married? What do they name their children? I want to know they're still going to be together when they're grey and old. (All right, I wasn't this concise and probably miss most of the pertinent points, but this was really what I meant to say. See above re: being put on the spot.)


Question: I know most of us are happily married, but if one of your heroes walked through the door, would you...?

Other Authors On Panel: No, of course not, I love my husband.

Me: I'm single, so yes. (This response was quoted back to me multiple times throughout the weekend!)

V.A.I.T.A.: Erupt in laughter.

Me: Especially if it's the one I based on Richard Armitage. Yes, yes, a thousand times yes!


Etc. etc. Anyway, that over, I proceeded to the bar to drink lots of wine. Saturday morning came a little bit suddenly. It also came with my pretty cream and black heels, which garnered more compliments than any other shoes I've worn. They were followed by my silver sparkly shoes, which so enchanted Janet Gover that she put a picture of them on her blog. Sunday brought my red polka-dot wedge-heeled espadrilles, which made an appearance in a quickly-written PG Wodehouse-style parody in Katie Fforde's workshop (but unfortunately I can't remember whose! Sorry!) and had Tansy-whose-surname-I-can't-remember (sorry! Information overload!) asking me how me how many pairs of shoes I'd brought. The answer, embarrassingly for a three-night stay, was five.

Shoes and wine aside, I had a fantastic time hanging out with my writer friends, which I usually only get to do, Almost Famous-style, in the bookstore (speaking of bookstores, I took thirteen of my paperbacks with me, and sold eleven. Result!). I met Immi Howsen, who is an absolute sweetheart, and Naomi Clark, who is my age and lives near Cambridge which is brilliant. The usual suspects--Katie Ff., Kate Walker, Sophie Weston, Kate Lace, Jan Jones, Julie Cohen, Anna Louise Lucia--were all there and several of them ran brilliant workshops which I will try to relate in more detail later, and I made new acquaintances in the form of Kate Harrison, Anna Jacobs, Nicola Cornick and Kate Hardy who were also on the author panel with me.

(nb: why are there so many Kates in the RNA?).

Right. More will follow, probably, but a) I'm really tired and b) I'm trying to apply Julie Cohen's tips on pacing to making Kett's book work. Wish me luck!


  1. That sounds like so much fun... I'm so jealous!

  2. I thought your answers were great. And you looked fabulously glamorous so I think people would have been disappointed if you hadn' said you'd run off with your hero. :-)

  3. I was also admiring your cream and black shoes... any hints on where they came from??
    You were excellent on the panel!

  4. New Look, Biddy. I'm such a classy lassy, my silver shoes were from there, and the red ones too.