Erm, remember I said I wouldn’t be needing a speech? Wrong!
Much to my surprise, I was presented with the Joan Hessayon New Writers’ Award at the RNA Summer Party last night. You could have knocked me down with a feather, as my mum likes to say. I had looked on the list of previous winners on the RNA website and discovered the last time a Mills & Boon had won was 1992, so I had assumed that the award would go to a mainstream book.
I must say, I can hardly believe it’s real. Certainly, most of last night felt like a dream (the champagne probably helped in that respect). I attended the RNA AGM beforehand, then carried on to the party where I met up with some of the lovely ladies from The Mouse & Pen on eHarlequin.com. It was so good to see some of the people I chat to online in the flesh.
I was busy chatting to my editor at Mills & Boon, Kim Young, when the champagne was passed round and the herd of butterflies in my stomach decided to stampede. Most of the authors on the shortlist had made it to the party (6 out of 8) and we were called to the front and given lovely bouquets. Then Jenny Haddon, the RNA Chairman, gave a quick run down on each of the books. I couldn’t tell at all from her comments which book was going to get the award. I was just rather pleased she’d liked mine.
As I said, I hadn’t built myself up to expect anything yesterday evening, I thought my chances were slim, but as I was standing there waiting for Jenny to announce the name of the book that had won, I decided I really wanted my name to be read out. And then she was saying that the book they had chosen was “fresh”, and just as I was thinking that what she was saying sounded a bit like the comments on my book earlier, she announced the title of my book (The Blind-Date Bride, re-titled as Blind-Date Marriage by M&B) and my name.
The rest of the evening was a bit of a blur. After listening to David Hessayon, who generously donated the award, I was suddenly confronted with an empty mic and managed to burble some thanks to the RNA, the New Writers’ Scheme and Mills & Boon. Friends were grinning, Mills & Boon editors were crying and I just had the eerie feeling that I had entered an alternate reality. At some point I managed to edge out onto the balcony and call my husband with the news.
Me and my editor, Kim.
On the down side, when I got home, I kicked a stairgate as I was on my way to bed and now I think I may have broken my toe. But even that hasn’t managed to dull the excitement.