The weekend of the 11th to the 13th July 2014 I attended the annual conference of the Romantic Novelists’ Association, something I try to do every year if I can take the time. This year the conference was held at Harper Adams University in Shropshire which is an agricultural college established in 1901.
The weather was warm and balmy, and the rural surroundings gorgeous although distinctly, uhm, rural – a fact which was evident every time we left a perfectly air-conditioned lecture theatre only to be met by the smell of pig shit (yep, I like to call a spade a spade and all that!). No complaints from me on that score, though, as the fragrant country air reminded me of where I grew up in Denmark.
I really enjoyed the lectures I attended , in particularly the ones given by Alison May (Classic Adaptations in Romantic Fiction), Jean Fullerton (Don’t Lose the Plot) and Pamela Hartshorne/Jessica Hart (pictured) about writing in two different subgenres.
In contrast, the panel discussing the future of romantic fiction, and fiction in general, was slightly depressing, if truth be told. Despite the meteoritic rise of self-publishing and the opportunities this presents to new and established authors alike, average authors earnings are going down, and making a living as a mid-list author is becoming increasing difficult.
Even so, deals are occasionally struck at the conference, and I’m delighted to announce that two writer friends, Gill Stewart and Jenny Harper, both blogging here at Novel Points of View, have now signed book deals with Accent Press.
But what I enjoy most about every conference I’ve attended is the social side of things. It’s a perfect opportunity to catch up with friends and colleagues from far-flung corners of the country, and even meet the real person behind a Facebook or Twitter profile. Among others, it was great to see Rosemary Gemmell and Joan Fleming from the Scottish Chapter again, plus so many other people I won’t have room to mention them here!
And then there are the kitchen parties… Here’s a picture of a kitchen party on Friday evening which quickly became a picnic on the lawn and eventually attracted a large crowd! Could have done without the mosquitoes it attracted, though…
Saturday evening was the Gala Dinner and also the presentation of prizes, namely the Elizabeth Goudge Trophy which was won by Janice Preston, and the Katie Fforde Bursary, this year awarded to Janie Millman.
At dinner I had the privilege of sitting next to Richard Lee, founder of the fabulous Historical Novel Society. It was great to “talk shop” relating to historical fiction in particular, and I’m planning to attend this year’s HNS Conference which will be held on the 5th to the 7th of September at Westminster University’s Marylebone campus in London. I’m really looking forward to it.
Last but not least, the funniest thing happened: at the Gala Dinner I found myself wearing the same dress as author Teresa Morgan. What does one do in such a situation? Run off in tears or stay as far away from each other as possible?
Of course not! We had a laugh and celebrated that we have the same excellent taste. After all, we’re both romantic novelists.