|Tamsyn Murray, Rowan Coleman and Cally Taylor|
There are many reason why, after being a member of the RNA for ten years, the 2012 summer conference was my very first, and it has absolutely nothing to do with having recently had twin baby boys and needing some sleep. It’s a little bit that I’m quite shy about joining in, and that after spending a lot of time locked up in my office writing a novel and conversing mainly with under threes, when people do let me out in public I talk far too much and far too loudly without stopping to take a breath (some of you may have noticed that…).
However, after spending a weekend in Penrith I really do wonder why it’s taken me so long to go. What a wonderful time I had!
Before going I was a little alarmed by the kit that conference experts told me I should take, especially by Liz Fenwick’s twitter musings on whether or not to take wellies. I worried that I might be going to some sort of romance boot camp, and that there might be marching and maybe enforced group hugs. Well, I needn’t have worried, there were plenty of group hugs, but none of them enforced, and as lovely Miranda Dickinson said, what incredible value the conference brings. Not only a weekend away, with lovely people but the sheer volume of knowledge, expertise and experience concentrated in one place, is worth its weight in gold. Highlights were many, but my favourite were Talli Roland’s clever and incisive talk on online marketing, Tamsyn Murray, bringing me up to date on ‘going all the way’ in YA, Jenny Barden’s fascinating talk on researching historical romance, Kate Harrison’s pertinent discussion on the future of women’s fiction, and Julie Cohen turning a whole room of grown women into weeping wrecks in just over four minutes, with her Pixar presentation. And also the wonderful inspirational energy I got from an audience (and a very glamorous vending machine coffee in the rain) with the amazing Carole Mathews. Everyone I spoke to was so friendly and welcoming, but I especially enjoyed chatting to Freda Lightfoot and Nell Dixon who were so generous with their knowledge and insight.
It’s an incredible feat of organisation, and I am in awe by the fantastic job that Jan Jones did, I still owe her a very large glass of wine for putting up with me and all my questions with unfailing good grace (sorry I didn’t find you at the right time, Jan). Over all I came back from Penrith feeling like part of a family, which of course I’ve been a member of for a long time, but now I know exactly how wonderful it is. And next time I shall endeavour to do better with my shoes, as the ones I took this time were all together too sensible.
Rowan's latest book...
'You are a remarkable woman and you deserve all the happiness, contentment and love in the world. I, for one, know that I have never met anyone quite like you.'
When Rose Pritchard turns up on the doorstep of a Cumbrian B&B it is her last resort. She and her seven-year-old daughter Maddie have left everything behind. And they have come to the village of Millthwaite in search of the person who once offered Rose hope.
Almost immediately Rose wonders if she's made a terrible mistake - if she's chasing a dream - but she knows in her heart that she cannot go back. She's been given a second chance - at life, and love - but will she have the courage to take it?
Out 27 September 2012
Rowan Coleman grew up in Hertfordshire longing to be a writer despite battling with dyslexia. After graduating from university she worked in bookselling and publishing for seven years before winning Company Magazine Young Writer of the Year in 2001. Her first novel 'Growing Up Twice' was published in 2002.
Rowan has gone on to write twelve novels for adults including the international bestsellers 'The Accidental Mother, The Baby Group' and 'The Accidental Wife' and eight novels for children and teens, including the paranormal adventure novels Nearly Departed and Immortal Remains under the name Rook Hastings. Her books are published around the world in several different languages and her latest book 'Dearest Rose' is out in September 2012. She now lives in Hertfordshire with her husband, and four children and is working on her next novel.
Rowan will be teaching at the Faber Academy Get It Written