In honour of the RNA’s 60th Anniversary we’re interviewing some of the many volunteers who work hard behind the scenes to keep the organisation, website and blog running smoothly. Today, Annette Hannah, the Press Officer for the RNA is in the Hot Seat.
Welcome Annette, Can you tell us a bit about what your role entails?
I am responsible for external communications from the organisation across social media and other platforms. I also liaise with our events Press Officer during preparation for the awards. This year I created new banners and leaflets and I’ve been co-ordinating lots of publicity around our 60th Anniversary, including Romance Reading Month, monthly features in Frost Magazine and ‘Romance Aloud’, a series of podcasts involving many of our members. The highlight has been organising a video message from Marian Keyes to wish us a happy 60th and I arranged for her to be interviewed by one of our authors for Romance Matters, which will be coming up later in the year. I am also a member of the committee which means I need to vote on various proposals that arise and also help out behind the scenes at events with my fellow committee members who are such a hardworking team of people.
It sounds like you’ve been very busy! I undertand that you have recently had your debut romance novel published too. What was the inspiration behind your book?
My debut novel, Wedding Bells at the Signal Box Café is set in the fictional market town of Bramblewood which is inspired by where I live. When I first moved here the railway signal box was controlled by a person and I always had a fascination with it. Fifteen years ago, it became automated, the Signal Box was boarded up and no longer needed and since then I’ve watched it fall into disrepair. Every time I walked past it; I would think how wonderful it could be as a café. Writing about it was my way of making it happen. When I saw the cover, I was absolutely blown away by it and couldn’t quite believe that something from my imagination had been brought to life so beautifully.
Can you tell us a little about the story?
Lucy is a single mum who moves to Railway Cottage in Bramblewood to look after her grandad who is recuperating in a nursing home. She’s not quite prepared for her grandad’s antics in the home but finds them hilarious and is able to see where her mischievous son Jackson gets his sense of adventure from. Lucy is excited about starting out in her new business as a wedding planner and happy to be reacquainted with her best friend Abbie. But when she sees Abbie’s gorgeous brother Dominic again, she realises that her secret childhood crush on him never went away, the trouble is Dominic is a bitter divorce lawyer who doesn’t believe in happy ever afters. However, when Lucy’s grandad meets Dom’s gran the sparks fly in all different directions and wedding bells start ringing.
Without giving too much away, what was the hardest part of the book to write?
There is a part in the book where something happens to Jackson and Baxter the dog and that was definitely the hardest part to write because I was drawing on experience of a similar thing happening to my sons and our dog when they were younger. I think writing is very therapeutic for expressing those sorts of scary moments that happen to us.
What is your writing day like?
I don’t really have a set writing schedule; I sit at the dining room table to work and usually warm up by writing a blog post. I’ve been doing quite a lot of editing lately, I never used to like editing but then something clicked, and I really enjoy it now. I’ve only just started on a new piece of writing which hasn’t been that easy during lockdown. Mainly because there are other people around the house so too many distractions and my Cocker Spaniel puppy likes me to stop what I’m doing so I can cuddle him every now and then.
What advice would you give to aspiring authors?
Always make notes as soon as they pop into your head as I tend to forget them if I don’t. I usually jot them down in my phone.
Read as much as you can in your preferred genre, as a blogger I found that by reading and reviewing books I was able to analyse what works and see authors’ different styles of writing which has helped me to develop my own.
Join the RNA, the New Writers’ Scheme is brilliant especially as it includes a full manuscript critique every year. The wonderful thing I’ve found with the RNA is the support you get from ever so generous established authors who are willing to share their tips and experience. I’ve made some fabulous friends there and we all try to support each other as much as we can. If ever one of us is stuck or flagging, then the others will be on hand with amazing advice. The RNA also offers workshops and talks at conferences and chapter meetings and they have just launched an online education programme. Also, as if that wasn’t enough, the parties are legendary.
And finally… never give up!
Thank you so much for having me on the blog.
Great advice, Annette, and many congratulations on the publication of your novel!
Annette Hannah is a Liver Bird who relocated to leafy Hertfordshire in the 80’s and now lives near a river with her husband, two of their three grown up children and a crazy black cocker spaniel. She writes Romantic comedies in settings inspired by the beautiful countryside around her and always with a nod to her hometown.
She worked in Marketing for many years as a qualified Marketeer which she loved as it tapped into her creative side.
As an avid reader, she began to review the books she read, became a book blogger and eventually plucked up the courage to fulfil her life long dream of writing a book.
For four years she was a member of the Romantic Novelists’ Association’s new writers’ scheme, during which time she wrote a book a year. After signing a two-book deal with Orion Dash in 2020 she graduated to full member of the organisation and is also their Press Officer.
She loves long walks along the river, travelling to far flung places, the odd glass of Pinot Blush and spending time with her friends and family.
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