Friday, 19 May 2006

The unexpected actually happened!

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 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.


Jessica Raymond said...

Congratulations again, Fiona! What a fabulous start to your career with M&B :) Jess x

Michelle Styles said...

Oh Fiona, I have tears in my eyes. I am just SO SO proud of you and your fairy tale publishing success. May it keep getting better and better.

That is a lovely picture of you and Kim.

You are coming to the RNA conference so we can celebrate properly aren't you?

Fiona Harper said...

Thanks for the congrats, ladies! I'll be there at the conference, Michelle. Looking foward to meeting you. I listened to your radio interview yesterday. It was great - and you didn't giggle that much!

Anonymous said...

Great news, Fiona. I'm so pleased for you and can't wait to read your book. Shall you be setting up a website and posting an excerpt?


Anonymous said...

Congratulations, Fiona! Great picture. I hope your toe is okay. WTG!

Gail from Canada

Nell Dixon said...

Congratulations again, Fiona! Can't wait to see you at the conference, then you can have that extra drink you missed when you went home and we went to the pub.LOl.
Hugs on the toe - ouchie!

Nicola Marsh said...

Fabulous news, Fiona.
I'm thrilled for you :)


Fiona Lowe said...

Fiona! Congratulations on your wonderful award. Hope the buzz of success keeps the pain of the sore foot at bay.

Congrats again and I can't wait to read your award-winning book.


Kate Hardy said...

Congratulations, Fiona - so pleased for you. Look forward to reading your book!

Fiona Harper said...

Thanks so much for all the good wishes every one. Nell, we will have that drink - and toast to your second bite at the cherry next year.

Sharon J said...

Congratulations, Fiona. I'm sure it was a well-deserved win. Now we just have to wait for the book to come out so that we can all read it. You must feel as though all your Christmases have come at once!

Trish said...


A star to watch out for!