What do you get someone for a Diamond Anniversary? I knew I wanted to give something to the RNA to mark the occasion, because over the years it has given so much to me. Each episode of my new podcast, Romance Aloud, celebrates this special milestone by talking to an RNA member about their novels, and the author from the association’s 60 year history whose work means the most to them.
My introduction to the RNA, and the world of romantic fiction, came from two members of a local writing group. They invited me to speak to their group about my short story podcast project. Over a decade later they remain good friends of mine, and are now both very successful authors. Through them I was introduced to another RNA member, which was the catalyst to my being able to establish a full-time career in publishing, with my own ebook imprint (thanks Jules Wake and Donna Ashcroft, I owe you a lot!).
RNA members are noted for their kindness and support. When I produced a charity audiobook to raise money for the Helena Kennedy Foundation, eleven well-known RNA authors didn’t hesitate to donate a story of their own. All of the proceeds from the audiobook went towards a bursary to help a disadvantaged student complete their higher education studies. Katie Fforde, whose generosity is legendary, graciously agreed to be the patron of National Short Story Week, which I launched in 2010. The annual anthologies, written by school children from around the UK, have raised thousands of pounds for Teenage Cancer Trust.
I will never forget my first RNA conference. It was an uplifting weekend of valuable professional advice, lots of laughs (and, yes, Prosecco!) and the cementing of some great friendships. In fact, the RNA was very well represented at my wedding a couple of years later. I’ve been lucky enough to experience the famous (infamous?!) kitchen parties, and am eternally grateful to the member who came to tell me that my lapel microphone was switched on as I was gossiping with a friend outside a packed auditorium before starting my workshop.
Past members of the RNA have also had a big impact on my life. My publishing imprint, Wyndham Books, publishes ebook editions of bestselling authors from the mid-twentieth century. One of these authors is RNA co-founder Lucilla Andrews. Her hospital stories continue to be immensely popular and I regularly receive emails and letters from her readers. I’ve struck up a lovely pen-friendship with a reader who’s been a Lucilla fan since the 1950s, and she’s been a real help in providing me with background research. We even swap cat photos and stories!
Recording the interviews for the Romance Aloud podcast is a lot of fun, and I’m also learning more about the RNA’s impressive legacy. I’ve been inspired to dip into the backlist of authors whose work I should know better, and now have a towering TBR pile on the bedside table. You can read about the available interviews, and who’s coming up, below.
Romance Aloud is my way of saying thank you and Happy Anniversary to the RNA. It’s a celebration of some of the fantastic authors, past and present, from its marvellous sixty year history. I hope you enjoy it.
Interviews already available:
Millie Johnson on Carole Mathews
Nicola Cornick on Mary Stewart
Lorna Cook on Rosamunde Pilcher
Sue Moorcroft on Christina Courtenay
Coming this autumn:
Jill Mansell on Jilly Cooper
Jean Fullerton on Catherine Cookson
Jules Wake on Katie Fforde
Donna Ashcroft on Millie Johnson
Rhoda Baxter on Sarah Mason