Welcome to Karen Aldous who tells us about her first trip to the RoNA Awards.
I’d really been looking forward to this event. Not only did it give me the opportunity to meet my editor for the first time but being among so many writers and getting the chance to meet them was truly amazing. The Gladstone Library at One Whitehall Place, SW1, provided the perfect setting to celebrate romance and the prestigious annual RoNAs. Glistening chandeliers fought with period fireplaces for my attention but the sparkling wine, unwavering chatter and anticipation diverted my focus.
Over two hundred guests attended the event including authors, editors and agents, all passionate about romance and eager to hear this year’s results. TV’s Strictly Come-Dancing Judge and ex-ballerina, the stunning Darcey Bussell CBE, presented the awards. Christina Courtenay was the first prize winner for her novel in the Historical Romance Category, The Gilded Fan, (Choc lit). Christina said ‘I’m truly honoured considering the massive group I’m up against.’
An overcome and tearful Kate Hardy received her award next for the RoNA Rose Award for her series romance Bound by a Baby (Harlequin Mills & Boon).
Under the Epic Romantic Novel category, Jennifer McVeigh graciously accepted her trophy for The Fever Tree (Penguin) whilst Imogen Howson, admitting to shaking furiously, claimed her prize in the Young Adult Romantic category, for her novel Linked (Quercus).
A stunned and emotional Milly Johnson lit the stage with her humour as she collected the award for Best Romantic Comedy for her novel It’s Raining Men (Simon & Schuster). The only thing she’d won before, she told us, was a brick, and she was in the bottom of a pool in her pyjamas!
There was also a special award and huge applause for Dr David Hessayon, who continues to support the RNA New Writers Scheme on behalf of his late wife and historical romance novelist, Joan Hessayon. Dr Hessayon, famous for his own gardening-book series, revealed Joan’s motivation was never about the fame, in fact, she never sought it – her research and writing were enough, but her legacy came from her passion for wanting to help other writers. Many writers of romance are indebted to Joan and David’s generosity.
This year's Outstanding Achievement Award went to the legendary, Helen Fielding for her Bridget Jones Diary series which is still a huge favourite of mine. A delighted Helen surprised me when she confessed she’d never had an award for her achievements before but owes her inspiration to another legend who advised her to ‘write as if you’re writing a letter to a friend’. Encouraging for most of us writers was the news she too had received her share of rejections. Proof enough that persistence pays off. She wished us all every success.
Huge congratulations go to Veronica Henry for winning the prestigious prize for Romantic Novel of the Year with her title A Night on the Orient Express which also won the Contemporary Romance Category. Veronica was clearly chuffed and I’m sure, considering the accolade, her son will forgive her for missing his eleventh Birthday!
Finally, a big thank you must go to RNA President, Katie Fforde for introducing the event and Chair, Pia Fenton and her committee for the organisation and running of such a lovely evening.
Thank you, Karen,
If readers wish to know more about this exciting event please look at the full report on the RNA website:
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