Monday, September 27, 2010

Linda Gillard on Winning the Woman's Weekly Favourite Romantic Novel 1960-2010

So there I was, standing on the quayside, staring at the distant Scottish mainland, wondering if I knew anyone with a boat. And nerves of steel...

Pondering the uncertainties of island life, I texted the organisers of Woman’s Weekly’s Favourite Romantic Novel 1960-2010, for which my novel STAR GAZING was short-listed, telling them I might not make it to the champagne breakfast for short-listed authors as the last two ferries from the Isle of Arran had been cancelled due to bad weather. As it was, I’d miss my London train connection and would have to fly now. If I ever got off the island.

But after a tense couple of hours, the skies cleared, the wind dropped and Calmac declared that the MV Caledonian Isles would depart. Twelve hours later (oh, the joys of flying Easyjet!) I checked in to the New Cavendish Club in London, unpacked and started to worry that my outfit was the wrong colour. (Or was it my hair that was the wrong colour?…)

The following morning I met Trisha Ashley, fellow short-listee (EVERY WOMAN FOR HERSELF). Barbara Taylor Bradford was also short-listed with the legendary A WOMAN OF SUBSTANCE, but she lives in New York and wasn’t attending.

And then it was mingling time… I was handed a glass of champagne but I can't say I tasted it. This is how nervous I was: when they were offered, I said “No” to a tray of Danish pastries. But everyone liked the colour of my Oska top and said it suited me. (Memo to self: fix hair colour.)

I introduced myself to the Woman’s Weekly reader who’d won a trip to London. She said she’d read all three short-listed books, but had actually voted for Victoria Hislop's THE ISLAND. Moving swiftly on, I gave her a signed copy of STAR GAZING, just to show there were no hard feelings.

Then announcement time… OhGodOhGod… And the winner is… STAR GAZING!


But yesssss!

A beaming Katie Fforde presented me with the star-shaped crystal trophy and looked on while I improvised an incoherent speech, short on wit and long on gratitude. Applause, flash bulbs, refills… Dizzy with happiness and champagne, possessed of a sudden, ravening hunger, I looked round for that magnificent selection of Danish pastries…. Gone. Only crumbs left to bear witness to their brief existence.

Linda and Trisha Ashely

Clutching my empty glass and my beautiful star trophy, I concluded that you can’t win them all. 

Monday, September 20, 2010

Summer Reading from Christina Courtenay

Unusually for me, I haven’t had much time for reading this summer, mostly because I didn’t go on the customary beach holiday.  When I do, I always take one book for each day (well, there’s nothing else to do, is there?) and hopefully get through ten to fourteen novels that way.  This year I’ve had to make do with reading at home, which meant I had to prioritise.

The choice in my TBR pile is daunting, to say the least, but some books call to you more than others.  That was the case with All That Mullarkey by Sue Moorcroft, a superb contemporary with a most delicious hero, and ditto Turning the Tide by Christine Stovell.  (And no, I didn’t read those because the author’s are my fellow Choc Lit-mates - truthfully, I would have loved them anyway.)

Then there was The Perfect Proposal by our lovely chairman, Katie Fforde.  A gentle love story that really was perfect in every way, with another wonderful hero to fall in love with and some fabulous settings.

For something a bit different, I read The Paris Vendetta by Steve Berry (I need some stories other than romance occasionally), but I was soon back with my favourite genre, delving into Wicked Regency Nights by among others, our own Nicola Cornick and Louise Allen.  Almost Human by Cat Marsters provided more variety and in between, I devoured two dark and paranormal YA novels, Radiant Shadows by Melissa Marr (a very different world of faeries) and Hush, Hush by Becca Fitzpatrick, which features a fallen angel quite literally to die for.

I don’t know about everyone else, but the sheer quality of fiction and the fantastic stories that continue to be published, especially by RNA members, astonishes me and makes me realise how much I have to look forward to.  Whenever I want, there is always another wonderful world to immerse myself in.  The only question is which one to choose next?

(Writing as Christina Courtenay, Pia's novel Trade Winds (published by Choc Lit) is out now, and her Regency novella Never Too Late published by DC Thomson (no.1737) is in shops this week.)

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Septmember Releases

Christina Courtenay TRADE WINDS
Choc Lit
30th September
"Marriage of convenience of a love for life? - Scotsman Killian Kinross
goes to Sweden to make his fortune, but ends up married and on a daring
voyage to China instead ..."

(sequel to Hostage Queen)
Severn House
30th September
Sixteenth-century France. Gabrielle d’EsrĂ©es’ one wish is to marry for love,
but her mother sells her as a mistress to three different men before she catches
the eye – and the heart – of Henry of Navarre, King of France.

Ellora's Cave Publishing
10th September
Jack Hargreaves returns to his old college in Oxford to follow up a lead
on an old enemy. He finds the enemy, but also Shere, an Egyptian shape-shifter.

Little Black Dress
30 September 2010
When lady-of-the manor Tilly, meets skater-boy Ashley and it’s
love at first sight, the one thing they have in common is that they
both live on an estate. But their social differences are their downfall.

Chrissie Loveday HER HEART’S DESIRE
Ulverscroft Large Print
September 30th
Zara has put her whole heart into making her catering business a success
but enigmatic Oliver wants her heart for himself ... should she trust him?

Arrow Books
16 September 2010
Rescued from a shipwreck, orphaned heiress Lucetta Froy wakes up in
hospital with no memory of her past, but when two ruffians claim to be
her brothers she finds herself in a desperate struggle to prove her identity.

Allison & Busby
13 September, 2010
1910: When Mattie flees from Swindon and her stepfather, she nearly loses
her life in a storm, but then fate steps in to offer her a new chance of happiness.

Magna (Large Print)
1 September 2010
'She would do anything to keep her family safe . . . .'

Liz Fielding/Jackie Braun/Natasha Oakley GORGEOUS GROOMS
Mills & Boon By Request £5.99
Juliet's lost her bloke, lost her job and mislaid her mind.
Things can only get better, right?  Wrong...

Mills & Boon LP Library Edition
In which Josie wrestles with taffeta, table plans and a room shortage.
And Gideon takes advantage.
Margaret Mounsdon SONG OF MY HEART
People's Friend Pocket Novel
23 September 2010
Andi Cox accepts a job looking after the daughter and niece of pop music
icon Jas Summers.

8 September 2010
Would Fern Jenkins ever find the love she longed for....

 (Part 2 of The Transformation of the Shelley Sisters)
Harlequin Mills & Boon
Sept 2010
Seduced and abandoned by a rakish aristocrat vicar's daughter Bella will do
anything to protect her baby, even if that means marrying a viscount she has
known for twenty four hours.Now all she has to do is make the marriage work.

Avon, HarperCollins
16th September
A romantic comedy about two couples who meet and fall in love at a Jane
Austen conference in Hampshire