Hello again. I’m back about the RNA Awards…
Recently I was here with Louise Allen, chatting about how it felt like to be shortlisted for the RNA Awards. Now the Awards are over, and I’m back to tell you all about it.
Romanceland has been buzzing about the RNA Awards
There has been a lot of excitement about the RNA Awards these past few weeks. Rightly so. The Romantic Novelists’ Association Awards are a celebration of the very best in Romantic Fiction. On Monday evening RNA members, finalists, publishers, authors, friends and supporters gathered at the Leonardo Hotel in the City of London for the RNA Awards Ceremony.
You can read more details about the winners on the RNA’s website, but this is my own (very) personal account of the event. This bird’s eye view, so to speak.
It started with a pre dawn drive
As some of you may know, I live in the Highlands of Scotland. That’s a 600 mile journey to London.
We drove through the dark to Inverness, slowly at first to avoid a herd of deer grazing the lanes around our house. For the main part of the journey, from Inverness to London, we had decided to use public transport.
No, no, no.
I may write about the 18th century, but we used a much more modern mode of transport. The Train. Although it was still an 8 hour train journey to reach Kings Cross.
The Build up
The previous week had been spent deciding what to wear for this, my first “proper do” since Lockdown began. All was going well. Dress, tick. Shoes (well, boots), tick. Handbag…..
Ah. If I wanted to wear the glam red boots that had been sitting in my wardrobe for far too long, I needed a matching bag. Hmmm, too late for a last-minute shopping trip to Inverness (a 140 mile round trip), so what was I to do?
My Cunning Plan
Once in London, I wasted no time in heading off to the shops. Actually, I felt a bit like a modern day Prince Charming, producing a red boot and asking each of the lovely sales assistants if they could match it. In the end, it was my Other Half who spotted the perfect bag . And a matching Prince Charming too. Result!
(In case you are wondering, I did have a back-up plan: black bag and shoes, but that looked a bit too grown up for the way I was feeling.)
Cinderella is ready for the ball (= RNA Awards)
Pray do not mock, dear Reader. After being confined to barracks for so long, I think we all felt that way.
All glammed up, the first thing to do was make my way to the City for lunch, at the invitation of Mills & Boon, with the other shortlisted authors.
It was lovely to meet up with Lucy Morris, Louise Allen, Catherine Tinley, Annie O’Neil, Virginia Heath, plus the lovely team from M&B, Linda Fildew, Carly Byrne, Bryony Green and Sheila Hodgson. Sadly, Terri Brisbin, the 7th (yes, seventh) M&B author to be in the finals this year, lives in the USA and was unable to join us, but we raised a glass to her all the same.
There was bubbly. There was wine. And there was much laughter and chatter! It set the scene for the rest of the day!
Those of us on the shortlist were asked to arrive early for photographs in the Flint Suite of the Leonardo Hotel. It wasn’t long before the noise level in the room began to rise. It is always so, when two or more romantic authors meet up. Especially when bubbly is introduced into the mix.
Then the rest of the audience began to arrive and the noise level went through the roof!
There were so many friends to greet, far too many to mention here, but I must give a shout out to fellow author and Quayista retreat buddy Janet Gover, our very own Lady in Red, who came to cheer for everyone shortlisted for the RNA Awards. She is far too generous to have favourites!
The Main Event
Once everyone had found their seats, Acting Chair of the RNA Jean Fullerton gave us a very warm welcome in a speech that echoed what we were all thinking – how very good it was to be back together, in person.
Then we were off
Jo Thomas was compère and actor Larry Lamb was on hand to present all the awards except two.
The Jackie Collins Award for Romantic Thrillers was presented by film producer Lizzie GIllett on behalf of Simon & Schuster UK, and the RNA’s very own Katie Fforde presented the Debut Romantic Novel Award.
With ten categories, there was a lot to get through but the evening sped by.
Now here I must declare an interest
As a finalist for the Shorter Romantic Novel Award, I couldn’t help being apprehensive when this category was announced.
I listened hard as Larry Lamb pulled the card from the envelope. “And the winner is….”
I cannot deny it, I would have loved to win, but I was absolutely thrilled that my mate and Quayista retreat buddy Louise picked up the trophy this year. This was a great result and I am truly, truly delighted.
The Awards ceremony was slick, polished and very glamorous. As each of the winners came up to collect their award, what struck me most this year was the emotion in all the winners’ speeches. Everyone seemed truly thrilled to be there, delighted to win, grateful that we could all get together. Delighted that we have something to celebrate in these dark times.
Many of the winners called the RNA their tribe
I noticed how many of the authors mentioned the support they received from the RNA, and several called it their tribe. This is the Oxford dictionary’s definition of the word: “a social division in a traditional society consisting of families or communities linked by social, economic, religious, or blood ties, with a common culture and dialect, typically having a recognized leader.”
I can’t say I recognise the RNA there! As far as I can see, the RNA’s members are not linked by social or economic ties, or by culture or dialect. And we certainly don’t have a recognized leader! Our books are diverse, spreading over many genres and with content ranging from scary to comic and everything in between.
What we do have in common is love
Love for romance and writing. Love for hope and happy endings. That’s enough for me.
Congratulations to all the winners of this year’s Romantic Novelists Association Awards – very well deserved, every one of you.
Feel as if I was there, Sarah. And I was so sad that this year I couldn’t make it. Thank you loads.
Thank you for sharing the awards evening, Sarah, and I love your red boots!
Thanks, the boots are fun, aren’t they? And comfortable, too, which is a bonus. I have a fab time at the awards, it is so lovely to be getting out and meeting old friends again. And making new ones, of course.
Thanks for that great overview, Sarah – you look fabulous!
Thank you, Sarah – and yes, you (both) look fabulous!
Thank you, Lesley, we were celebrating not only romantic fiction, but being able to get together with other people again.
Thanks for the fab write up and the photos, Sarah. I wish I could have been there! Congratulations on your nomination. I love the boots!
Thanks, Helena, it was a really special evening, and lovely to be amongst so many friends again. I think you can tell I had a great time!
Great blog post, I almost feel as though I was there. I thought you and Terri looked incredible. If your boots are a size 4 1/2 and you get fed up with them pass them along the line!!
Lizzie has it right. Your blog reads as if you were talking to us, friendly and totally immediate. Really sorry I missed the event but glad that you all had such a great time. Boots (AND bow tie) are very glam indeed.
So pleased you liked it, Lizzie, and you too, Joanna: it was meant to be a feel for the awards rather than a blow by blow account of the results (I was enjoying myself fr too much to make notes!) As for the boots, they are a five, so not too far off your size, although I am ot fed up with them. At all 🙂
What a lovely post, Sarah. Thank you for sharing the fun with all of us! I’m writing from the States, where I think we’ve mucked up sufficiently that it will be a long time before U.S. based romance authors gather amicably again for such a celebration. I’m grateful you’ve allowed us to do so vicariously and so happy you all got to enjoy each other’s company.
Meg, I am delighted you stopped by and enjoyed my ramblings! With everything that has gone on – and is going on now – in the world, a glamorous get-together was a real tonic. I wanted to pass on some of that joy so if you have felt it, then that makes me soooo happy! Thank you for letting me know.
Lovely blog post – wish I could have been there, but reading this has made up for it!
Thanks, Jill – it really was good to meet up again “just like the old days”! We all need a bit of glitz, glamour and especially ROMANCE in our lives now 🙂 Thanks for stopping by.
Like the others have said, it was a fun read. Love the boots! Thanks for giving us your personal take on the awards.
Thank you, Liz. It was such a great evening I just had to share it. And the boots….I live in flat shoes most of the time, so even wearing heels was an event!