Monday 16th March 2015 will always be a very special night to remember. In the impressive setting of The Gladstone Library in the Liberal Arts Club at One Whitehall Place, London, The Romantic Novelists’ Association revealed the winners of their annual awards.
I had been so thrilled earlier in the year to learn that THE GIRL WHO CAME HOME was shortlisted in the Historical Romantic Novel of the Year category and, full of excitement, I travelled to London for the awards. Not for one moment, though, did I think I might actually win. I was just so happy to be nominated and to be at the event which I have followed for the last few years. Hearing my name read out was one of those moments you dare only dream about, and one which I will never forget. My absolute shock and surprise was clear for all to see!
I was presented with the award – a beautiful glass star – by the amazing Barbara Taylor Bradford. I shed a few tears and said a few words (I can’t quite remember what) and sat back down with the lovely team from HarperCollins with my hands shaking and my heart pounding. I managed to send a quick text message to my husband, sister and a couple of close friends. It simply said ‘I WON!’. Most of them thought I was joking!
With a total of 850 entrants considered for the awards and six shortlisted authors in each of the six categories, it really is such an incredible honour to be recognised by the RNA, and by the independent panel of judges which included Sarah Broadhurst, formerly The Bookseller; Alison Flood, Guardian.co.uk; Jane Mays, The Daily Mail; Karin Stoecker, ex-Editorial Director of Harlequin Books and Matt Bates of WHSmith Travel.
On the eve of St. Patrick’s Day it was especially lovely to be nominated along with fellow Irish authors, Stephen Burke (The Good Italian) and Susan Lanigan (White Feathers) – who were also in the Historical Fiction category – and Ciara Geraghty (Now That I’ve Found You) who was shortlisted in the Contemporary category. Barbara Taylor Bradford was brilliant and inspiring and had the whole room laughing. The pink bubbles flowed and the evening was so special and exciting and wonderful.
I came home yesterday (Thursday) and the news is still sinking in. I now have to tidy my desk so I can display my gorgeous award!
The RNA was formed in 1960 to promote romantic fiction and to encourage good writing and now represents more than 700 writers, agents, editors and other publishing professionals. The Awards are the highlight of the year for many, but with romance one of the most popular fiction genres, the RNA Conference is always well attended. According to RNA research, more than ninety per cent of all readers like to see a bit of romance in the books they read—men as well as women.