Monday, March 29, 2010

Christina Courtenay Shares her Easter Traditions

Novelist Pia Fenton aka Christina Courtenay tells us about her Easter traditions...

One of the nice things about Easter is that you get to decorate the house again. Not as much as at Christmas, obviously, but I love putting little fluffy chicks (fake I hasten to add), bunnies and even the odd lamb on the table and making a festive arrangement using twigs, feathers and a few other bits and bobs (see photo).

I’m not sure if this is a peculiarly Swedish tradition or if anyone here in the UK does the same? It’s just something we’ve always done in my family and I think it brightens the place up. According to Wikipedia, it could be something to do with commemorating Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem when the people spread palm fronds in front of him, but if I know the Swedes, it’s probably a lot more pagan in origin than that. It’s more likely to be a way of introducing a feeling of spring into the home and it’s really supposed to be done with live birch twigs so that the leaves open up adding some welcome greenery. Either way, I think it’s pretty!

Happy Easter to everyone!


(writing as Christina Courtenay)

“Desperate Remedies” - My Weekly Pocket Novel No.1712 out this week

“What is the real story behind the handsome Lord Synley’s marriage to a woman as old as his mother? And will Lexie’s secret love for him ever be requited?”

Friday, March 19, 2010

The Glitz, The Glam, The Fun - THE IMAGES - RNA's 50th Anniversary Awards Lunch

RNA's 50th Anniversary Awards Lunch

RNA's 50th Anniversary Awards Lunch report by Kate Hardy...

The lunch this year has to be the best ever – so I’m going to be a bit presumptuous here and guess that I’m speaking for everyone who attended, because I’d like to say a very big thank you to all the committee members who worked so hard to organise everything and all those behind the scenes who made everything run so smoothly.

So, what can I tell you about it? When you have more than 250 people from the world of publishing all together in one room – especially when pink champagne is flowing – it gets pretty noisy. Lots of chatting, lots of laughing, lots of warmth.

What do you expect at the awards lunch?

Sartorial elegance, for a start. We know how to do shoes – and I give you exhibit (a), Julie Cohen. Absolutely gorgeous. (I thought I had a pic of Liz Fenwick looking really elegant, but for some reason I don’t – take it as read, she is the epitome of glam.)

Charm – and I give you exhibit (b), our speaker, Barry Norman. What a lovely man, and what a fantastic speech. How nice it was for a speaker to acknowledge what we do (and do well, even if I am blowing our collective trumpet). He also had us all laughing when he told us about the people who come up to him and say they could write a book, if only they had the time – as if time came in little lumps you could pick up here and there. (Don’t we know it?!)

Warmth – and I give you exhibit (c), president, Katie Fforde, who made a super speech at the beginning.

Food Рit is lunch, after all. So here are exhibits (d), (e) and (f) . Starter: trio of melon with a pineapple, chilli and coriander salsa. Main: pot roasted guinea fowl with a port wine jus, confit cabbage cake and fondant potato. Pudding: the RNA 50th anniversary dessert (chocolate tart, stem ginger, and best of all cr̬me brulee served in a tube of white chocolate - my two absolute favourites together, there Рso whoever created this, THANK YOU!)

The awards themselves – the whole point of the lunch. Many congratulations here - to all the winners and also to all those on the shortlist

RNA People's Choice: Louise Douglas with Missing You

RNA Love Story of the Year: Nell Dixon with Animal Instincts

RNA Lifetime Achievement Award: Maeve Binchy (who couldn't be with us but made a lovely video speech)

RNA Romantic Comedy of the Year: Jane Costello with The Nearly-Weds

RNA Lifetime Achievement Award: Joanna Trollope (pictured here with RNA president Diane Pearson)

Harry Bowling Prize: Debbie Johnson (there was a runner-up, but he was too shy to make a speech)

RNA Romantic Film of the Year: An Education (Lynn Barber, the writer of the book on which it's based, accepted the award)

RNA Romantic Novel of the Year: Lucy Dillon with Lost Dogs and Lonely Hearts (very pleased for her as I LOVED this book - and I was charmed that she mentioned her dogs in her speech)

At the end of the lunch, M&B gave us a lovely goodie bag with a hardcover copy of 'Loves Me, Loves Me Not' and some chocolate (perfect combination, I reckon).

All in all, a wonderful day – and I for one can’t wait until next year.


Will stepping in to help with a family crisis be enough to mend Max and Marina's marriage?