Wednesday, 11 February 2009

RNA Awards Lunch 2009

Yesterday was the RNA’s annual awards luncheon, where the organisation presents trophies for the Romantic Novel of the Year, the Romance Prize (for shorter romantic fiction) and this year, for the first time, a Lifetime Achievement Award. Did I mention I was on the shortlist for the Romance Prize for the second year running? I may just have mentioned it in passing…not that I was at all excited about it, you understand.

All the shortlisted authors were asked to be at the Royal Garden Hotel in Kensington early for PR and photographs, which was great, because I got to meet up and chat with some of my old friends, such as Kate Hardy (right, with yours truly), who took the Romance Prize home last year, Jessica Hart and India Grey. I also got to meet fellow finalist, Beth Elliot, but unfortunately Lucy Broadbent, the last contender on the list, was unable to make the ceremony.

I was also excited to be sharing a ‘green room’ (how showbizzy is that?) with some of the committee members and authors shortlisted for the Romantic Novel of the Year —which, by the way, I think we ought to call the Ronnie (RNY?). Cecilia Ahern looks so fresh-faced and young, she must have been a toddler when she got her first publishing contact. Here are some of the shortlisted authors for the Ronnie (See? It’s catching on…) signing their books.

Lunch itself was lovely and the service was fantastic. An army of waiters seemed to arrive and place the plates on the table simultaneously. I know it seems weird taking pictures of your dinner, but people really want to know! And who am I to deprive them?

The starter was Scottish Salmon Parfait with Tuna Tartar and Crème Fraiche Caviar. I took a picture, but I was so intent on eating it, I forgot to take one before I dived in. Here is a picture of someone else’s plate who was slightly less piggy than I was (but for pristine picture of the food, you'll have to visit Kate Hardy's blog - she obviously has mose self-control than I have).

The main course (can you tell I like my food?) was Chicken filled with a Paris Mushroom Mousse, Marsala Cream Sauce, Marquis Potatoes and Sugar Snap Peas. This too was gorgeous. I loved the sauce. And just enough to fill me up without making me too stuffed, which was just as well, because pudding was just around the corner…

I don’t need to say much about dessert, apart from telling you that it was Bitter Lemon Tart with Raspberry Jelly and Crème Fraiche Ice Cream. A picture may say a thousand words. I’ve two to demonstrate how much I enjoyed it:

Anyway, enough of the frivolous stuff and on to the awardsy bit. Unfortunately, our speaker, the debonair and charming Peter Bowles was unable to attend because he was unwell (get well soon, Peter!). Fist up was the Romance Prize and my little heart starting pattering hard as one of the judges, Margaret James, got up on stage and a short video display of all the shortlisted books appeared on screens all round the room. Margaret then gave a short description of each of the books, outlining what the judges liked most about them. I think she may have said Saying Yes To The Millionaire had “charm in abundance”, but I knew as I heard the judges opinion of one of the other books that it had stolen their hearts. And that book was…

Hired: Mistress For the Billionaire’s Pleasure by India Grey.

I’m very glad I didn’t read it before the ceremony because it sounds fabulous and I would have been too scared to turn up! India, lovely as always, was completely shocked by her win and even though she said she hadn’t prepared a speech, she was warm, funny and completely disarming as she accepted both the Betty Neels rose bowl, which she gets to keep for a year, and a little star-shaped glass trophy, which she gets to keep for ever.

And while India was still reeling with surprise, it was on the next event, a Lifetime Achievment Award to Judy Piatkus, founder of Piatkus Books.

Then, it was time to present the Romantic Novel of the Year (okay, maybe The Ronnie wasn’t really a good nickname…), which went to Julia Gregson for her novel East of the Sun. All the books on the shortlist sounded fabulous. Uh-oh, I can hear my credit card groaning at the thought of another book shopping-spree...

Here's Julia with her trophy:

Finally, now all the nail-biting was over, it was time to breathe out and socialise. Here’s me with new M&B Romance author Nina Harrington:

And here’s a little montage, including India with her trophy:

Now, the questions now is: who can I bribe to get myself on the shortlist again next year? Any ideas, anyone? ;-)


liz fenwick said...

I don't think you need to bribe anyone. You just write fab books!!!

Wonderful to see you. Now back in Dubai need to fall into bed for a few hours - then I will post all my photos!

Kate Hardy said...

I second what Liz said - soon as I read your Christmas book, I had one of those 'I wish I'd written that' moments, followed by, 'This one's going to be shortlisted... for a Rita as well as the Romance Prize.'

You heard it here first :o)

Wonderful pics. I have some to send you, including one that Phil the photographer took in the Green Room. Will get my act together later today when I've sorted my PC out.

Fiona Harper said...

Thanks for your encouraging comments, Ladies! (Even if I'm feeling alittle sceptical about your theories, Kate...) Hope the new PC treats you well!

Liz Fielding said...

Lovely pics, Fiona. And how lovely to see Nina for the first time.

Debs said...

Ditto what Liz said. Your books are wonderful and I can't wait to read the next one.

Thanks for the brilliant post and fab photos, it was such great fun.

Biddy said...

It was lovely seeing you and the photos are fab (glad the cleavage shot seems to have been left out).

I agree with Kate and Liz, no bribes needed.

Go you!!

Julie Cohen said...

You missed out the drunken gushing in the pub afterwards...or maybe that was just me.

Great to see you as always, and others have already expressed my opinion about bribes being superfluous.

Fiona Harper said...

Aren't you all lovely for stroking me ego for me? It's feeling all warm and fluffy and is asleep by the fire now... ;-)

Julie, I remember (and appreciate) the gushing!

Fi x

India said...

Great to see you on Tuesday... And your books are as warm and sparky and gorgeous as you are. xx (As our mutual editor agrees!)

rayannelutenerblog said...

Lovely pics. Thank you for posting. And many, many congratulations on being shortlisted again.. the fame, the greenroom, the fame..LOL