The RNA Awards Finalists are announced…

It’s that Awards time of year again –

The Romantic Novelist Association has released its shortlist for the Romantic Novel of the Year Awards and I am delighted to be amongst the finalists, along with fellow author and long time friend, Louise Allen.

Louise Allen shortlisted for RNA Awards Sarah Mallory shortlisted for RNA Awards

Earlier I caught up Louise for a natter and I thought you might like to listen in….

SM It came as a most delightful shock to me when I discovered I had been nominated for the RNA Awards this year. To be honest, I have been so involved in my latest book that I had forgotten all about submitting Cinderella and the Scarred Viscount. How did you feel when you heard the news? Something like this, perhaps…?

champagne for Awards finalists

LA Stunned, to be honest! I’d forgotten too, having agreed to a very tight deadline on the book I’ve just delivered. It came as a shock, but also a huge boost because I had just reached that ghastly stage with the current book when everything seemed to be wrong with it. It was such a joy to realise that sometimes I can write things people enjoy.

SM I think most authors get to that stage in a book when you think it’s never going to work, I know I do. I have found the best thing is to slog on through it. Once I get to the end I can polish up theWoman chained to her working desk writing and the story, but as someone once said, you can’t edit an empty page.

LA That’s so true. It’s one of the “rules” of writing that I entirely agree with – get something down, whatever it is and however painful the process. Editing that (always assuming there is the occasional nugget of useable writing in there somewhere!) is the part I really enjoy.

SM You and I have both won this category in the past, but the thrill of being on the shortlist was just as great for me this time. How about you?

LA Yes – just as much of a thrill. I don’t think being shortlisted for an award like this ever gets ordinary.

celebrating with champagne

SM. Your title, A Proposal to Risk their Friendship, gives a pretty good idea of what the story isCover A Proposal to Risk their Friendship by Louise Allen about, but perhaps you’d like to give us a little insight into the story and the characters…

LA It’s the fifth in a series of linked books, The Liberated Ladies, about five friends all of whom are slightly unconventional and certainly don’t fit into the mould of a conventional young lady. My heroine, Melissa, wants a career as a writer and is determined to remain an independent spinster. When she meets Lord Henry Cary she thinks he’s simply the typical diplomat he appears to be and that they can be friends. When it turns out he’s rather more than that, life becomes complicated – so complicated in fact that the only way out appears to be marriage, whether they like it or not.

SM I love the premise there, Louise. Don’t you just love making life complicated for your characters?

LA Oh yes! Even when I’m the one who has to try and untie the knots. Cinderella and the ScarredCover Cinderella and the Scarred Viscount by Sarah Mallory Viscount is an intriguing title – I love a Cinderella story. Why does this fit your heroine?

SM Cinderella has always been my favourite fairytale, not just because she meets her Prince Charming, but the way she holds fast against the ugly sisters and doesn’t descend to their level. My character, Carenza, is different from her half-sisters: she is dark where they are fair; curvaceous while they are tall and thin; but they try to turn this difference against her. Thankfully she is strong enough to resist their taunts. But it does erode her confidence, and she needs her Prince Charming (i.e. Ross, the scarred Viscount) to help her see her own worth. In helping him, she helps herself.

Writing is more than Awards, especially in lockdown

LA Now we’re emerging (warily) from lockdown, do you feel the past two years have affected your writing? I certainly didn’t find it made coming up with ideas more difficult, but it certainly made concentrating harder. I was much more easily distracted, which seems strange, given that I had so much extra time.

a puzzled, conflicted woman

SM I agree. I thought with everything closed – no clubs, no meetings etc – that as a writer I would be able get more work done. I certainly spent more time at my desk, but the writing didn’t flow so naturally. Thank heavens for zoom and the internet to keep in touch with friends.

Hartland Quay, Devon

Hartland Quay, Devon

SM At this point I’d like to say how much it helped being part of the Quayistas. (That’s the name we came up with after meeting up for a short retreat at the fabulous Hartland Quay in Devon.) As a Quayista yourself, Louise, you will know how much it helped when lockdown started and we moved that year’s cancelled retreat online.  That was the beginning of regular Zoom meetings, which kept us all in touch, through some pretty tough times. We shared problems and looked out for one another but always, every week, we supported and encouraged each other to keep writing.

LA Absolutely – that connection with writers going through the same challenges was a life-saver. I think it helped that we write in a mix of styles and genres. There is always a different slant on whatever issue we have to tackle. So, thank goodness for Lesley Cookman, Sophie Weston, Janet Gover and Joanna Maitland I say!

After the Awards, what next?

LA Have you any plans for your next book? Or are you head-down and thinking of nothing but the one you are working on at the moment? I’ve got two, both trying to write themselves in my head, which isn’t very helpful. I’m taking a week off, pretending to get to grips with the housework. And then I’m going to begin a new time-travel Regency romantic mystery with all the fun of plotting both a mystery and a romance.

SM Haha, it is a curse and a blessing, isn’t it? We have this writer’s brain that can be triggered at any moment into thinking up another story. Taking time off from writing does help, giving yourself permission NOT to worry about the story (or in your case, stories) to get your thinking straight before settling down to write a new book. It often results in some housework getting done, too!

LA Yes, I took a week off, did some spring cleaning and revealed some long-hidden flat surfaces in the study. I knew it was time to start again when I found myself sketching family trees, house plans and town maps.

SM I love your time travel stories. Is this latest one going to be another in the Earl Out Of Time series or are you starting something completely new?

LA This will be the second in my new series of time travel following on from Love’s Vengeance. Cover Love's Vengeance by Louise AllenNo title yet, but it revolves around a young woman who discovers she is not who she always thought she was and the shockwaves that ripple out from that revelation. Oh, and the developing relationship between my 21st century heroine and my 1810 hero, of course!

Any clues you can drop about your next book? Or will I be able to gather some hints when we meet in London for the Awards? I can’t wait to see everyone and experience the buzz and warmth that a gathering of romantic novelists always generates!

SM I am half way through writing my next book and so far it is going well (touches wood frantically). The only clue I am willing to give is that it’s a lost heir story – well, a found heir, actually – and culminates in Christmas. Of course Christmas in the Regency was a little different from the all singing and dancing Dickensian version. But expect holly, snow and a happy ending.

Journey's End by Maurice Bishop

journey’s end

It’s been lovely talking with you, Louise. The next time we meet up will be at the awards on 7th March. It’s going to be a magical event and I am so looking forward to it. Lots of glitz, glamour and of course, bubbly!

So, a final word from both of us —

Sending good wishes to all the authors shortlisted for this year’s RNA Awards . No matter who wins, let’s hope we all enjoy ourselves to the max!

Louise and Sarah

13 thoughts on “The RNA Awards Finalists are announced…

  1. Julie B.

    Having read many of the books shortlisted, I certainly do not envy any of the judges because they’ve got a very hard choice to make.

    As a long time Mills and Boon reader (and huge fan of the Historical line), it is so thrilling to see so many writers shortlisted for these awards.

    Good luck to all the nominees!

  2. lesley2cats

    Good luck to both of you. I wish I could be there – what was it? To huddle in the bar with the Quayistas? I’ll raise a glass at home instead.

  3. Sarah Post author

    Thank you for your lovely replies, Lesley, Jan, Liz and Julie. I am really excited about actually meeting up with people again at the Awards – so many friends who haven’t been together for ages now. Writerly chats in person will happen again and hopefully we will all meet up in the future. Thanks again – as Julie says, there are so many M&B writers on the list this year, and I love them all!

  4. Liz Fielding

    Lovely to “hear” the two of you chatting about writing in lockdown and the value you place on being short-listed for awards. Wishing you both all the best on Monday!

  5. Joanna

    Lovely chat and all so true! I’m sorry I won’t be there to cheer you on but congrats on making the finals, to both of you. You write great books so I’m not surprised.

  6. Louise Allen

    Thank you so much everyone for your good wishes. Like Sarah, I’m so looking forward to meeting up with other writers ‘for real’ – wonderful as Zoom is!

    1. Sarah Mallory

      Thank you Rosemary. We are all missing those in-person writerly get-togethers, aren’t we? It was good to catch up with a fellow author and looking forward to meeting up with more at the Awards 🙂

  7. Sophie

    Coming in late to this but very many congratulations to both of you. I’ve read both books and am really glad I don’t have to make the choice. They’re lovely!

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