Friday, May 30, 2014

Let's Party!

The annual RNA Summer Party brought out the best as always, both in the renewing of friendships, the making of new ones, an opportunity to mix with some of the good and great of the romantic publishing world. As if that wasn’t enough, sixteen of seventeen candidates (Jennie Jones is based in Australia) lined up in the hope of winning the coveted Joan Hessayon Award. 

Candidates for the Joan Hessayon Award

Viv Hampshire
Glass in hand
Here are some comments from a few of those present.

What a lovely mix of people, from hopeful newbies to the much-published, and agents and editors too. The room buzzed with friendly chatter, the nibbles were tasty, and beautiful shoes abounded - although I did see quite a few being surreptitiously swapped for comfortable ‘travelling home’ flats at the end of the night!
Viv Hampshire (NWS)

Gerry Savill (standing) with
Sarah Stephenson, Natalie Kleinman
and Viv Hampshire

Going to any RNA event, be it the Summer Party or a chapter meeting, is always an uplifting event. Knowing that the published authors were once in my shoes (i.e unpublished!) gives me the boost to keep going. One day that could be me. Or maybe I should be more confident; one day that will be me.
Gerry Savill (NWS)

Elaine Everest
Joan Hessayon Award Finalist

I’ve always enjoyed attending the Summer parties. For me, this one was extra special as I was one of the seventeen contenders for the Joan Hessayon Award. In the last few months we have chatted between ourselves about the competition, interviewed each other for blogs and followed each other on Facebook and Twitter. We’ve become friends and will remain so as the NWS graduates for 2014. That’s what is great about being an RNA member. We support each other and are happy for every success. Well done ladies, it was a pleasure standing alongside you on such a memorable evening.
Elaine Everest (member)

Francesca Burgess

Another great night mixing with writers at all stages of their careers. It's good to meet new people. I love the feeling of camaraderie and support there is at all RNA events. And of course, the parties are a good excuse to dress up!
Francesca Burgess (NWS)

Natalie Kleinman
Everybody loves a romance and there was certainly a lot of it about at the RNA Summer Party. I found myself wondering how many words of love had been generated by the assembled company but, as I can’t count that far and it was giving me a headache trying, I decided instead to sample some of the delicacies put on by party organiser, Sally Quilford. Yummy. The headache went and didn’t reappear the following morning in spite of an excessive alcohol intake. Well, it was a party!
Natalie Kleinman (member)

Look in again on Tuesday, 3rd June, when we will be joined by Jo Thomas, winner of this year's Joan Hessayon Award

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Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Talking with Liam Livings

Liam Livings lives, with his partner, where east London ends and becomes nine-carat-gold- highlights-and-fake-tan-west-Essex. He started writing at 14: during a French exchange trip, he wrote pen portraits about the teachers. He wrote for his school’s creative writing magazine and writes a diary daily. He grew up in the New Forest.

Best Friends Perfect Book One will be published on 4 June 2014 by Wilde City Press.

Tell us something about the plot of your novel.

Cover Courtesy of
Adrian Nicholas
Kieran, 18, comes out to himself then his family by going to a youth group. There he meets Kev, a cross dressing gay man with awful taste in boyfriends and Jo, a grade A drama student, at college and in his real life. Kieran navigates his way through the maze that is being a gay man in the late nineties, with help from his two new best friends, and his two old best friends; Hannah, just coming out too and trying to work out if Steps are Abba for the nineties; Grace a one woman charity shop bargain hunter with encyclopoedic pop knowledge. 

How do you fit your writing around your home life?

I am a morning person. I like to get up at 7 o’clock and write before the activities of the day take over. I get up quite early on the weekend to write for a few hours before baking/hosting/watching TV and lolling about.  

If you were to record a soundtrack to your book which three songs (or pieces of music) would you choose and why?

All the characters are into music so can I pick one to represent each of the main characters? Kieran - One For Sorrow by Steps; Jo – Do-Re-Mi from The Sound of Music; Hannah - No More I Love You’s by Annie Lennox; Grace - Vienna by Ultravox; Kev – Love’s Unkind by Donna Summer.

How good are you at planning your work? Do you prefer to wing it?

I always plan my writing. Sometimes I use bullet points on a Word document, but recently I’ve got into Post It notes. It means I can have them laid out one side of my laptop, and my hand written character bios on the other side of the laptop and then the story on the screen. It saves moving from one document to another on screen, I can just glance to the side at the Post It notes to see the next scene to write. This technique means I write first drafts as fast as possible, averaging 2000 words an hour.

What did you enjoy most about writing your novel?

I love getting to know the new characters and travelling with them on their journeys. I always want my characters to have grown, changed by the end of the story, and I like taking them to some interesting places to help with that.

Thank you for joining us today, Liam

Connect with Liam Livings
You can read his blog at
Read samples of his stories and reviews of work on his website
Or twitter @LiamLivings

Blog posts are brought to you by Elaine Everest and Natalie Kleinman.
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Friday, May 23, 2014

Taking a Chance

Today we are joined by Carol Chance, writing as Carol Maclean

I live on the west coast of Scotland with my husband, two children and three cats. I've always enjoyed writing and my first story, written at the age of ten, was about a girl called Mhairi who lived with her nine siblings on a small Scottish croft, getting involved in all sorts of adventures. Luckily I have since lost this masterpiece.
My interests include hillwalking and enjoying wildlife and nature, along with a passion for reading in all sorts of genres, and of course writing.

When did you decide to write your first book and how long did it take?

I started by writing short stories for women's magazines and after many rejections finally got published in The People's Friend and My Weekly. I found it really difficult to write longer than a couple of thousand words per story even though my ambition was to write a novel.

Sometime in 2008 I saw an article in Writing Magazine about Pocket Novels and was inspired to try to write one, as at that time they were only 30,000 words long (now they are 50,000) so longer than short stories and shorter than a full-length novel.

After the usual learning curve of rejections and re-writes, 'Wild for Love' was finally published in 2009 by My Weekly Pocket Novels. I've now had seven pocket novels published, all of which have gone on to be published by Ulverscroft Large Print books (Linford Romances) and six of which have now been accepted by Accent Amour to be produced as E-books.

How do you fit your writing around your home life?

I work Monday to Wednesday so I tend to do all my writing on Thursdays and Fridays between 9am to 3pm to fit in with school hours. I don't think I've got much stamina as I'd love to write in the evenings but am always too tired!

How do you plan to promote your ebook?
My first title with Accent Amour is coming out this month. It is called 'Coming Home'.
Melody has sworn never to return to Barradale, the island where she'd grown up - and been so unhappy...Now living in Glasgow, she has forged a new life in the City for herself. But when the gorgeous Kieran Matthews turns up on her doorstep, demanding that she go back with him to see her sick sister, she finds she cannot refuse. And for Melody, family secrets must be unravelled before Kieran's love can help to resolve her past.
I will promote it through the Romna Sunday Promos and through blogging. My local library is quite interested in it too so perhaps I'll be able to promote it there in some way - they suggested I come and give an author talk (gulp) so I might have to build up my courage and do that.

How good are you at planning your work? Do you prefer to wing it?

I am definitely a planner. I make a numbered list of how many chapters I need for the word count and then fill each with at least one or two things that have to happen for the story to move along. Inevitably the plot changes as I begin to write but generally I like to keep to the plan that I've made.

Do you enjoy research?

So far I haven't had to do very much. All but one book have been contemporary and I've drawn on my own experiences of different jobs or locations to tell them. Having said that, 'The Jubilee Letter' was set in Glasgow in the 1950s and I did have to read up on a bit of history for that and quite enjoyed the process, although there is always a fear of getting facts wrong and that a reader may pick up on it.

What did you enjoy most about writing your novel?

'Coming Home' is set on a mythical Scottish island and I really enjoyed making the most of the contrast between the wild, rugged landscape and my heroine, Melody, who is a city girl and loves her fashion labels and high heels. I had a lot of fun with that!

Thank you for joining us today, Carol

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Tuesday, May 20, 2014

I'll Drink to That!

Today we meet Karen Aldous 

Karen lives with her husband and dogs in the beautiful Kent countryside where they brought up their three children. She enjoys activities which can be shared with family and friends walking, cycling and skiing.

Inspired initially by Jilly Cooper, Karen continues to adore great stories and writers. She attributes her passion for writing to three Ps - People, Places and Property. Her career allowed her to indulge in them all, providing useful material for her debut novel, The Vineyard.

What gave you the idea for your book and how long did it take you to write?
Provence and the Riviera and imagining how lovely it would be to live there, but I didn’t want my main character to inherit a vineyard in France. That would have been too easy for her. I wanted her to be a completely independent single mum who was inspirational, creative and determined to provide for her child. It took me ten months to write altogether if I count the time actually writing and editing but it was in my head for about ten years.

Why did you decide on that particular location?
I chose the location simply because Provence is stunning and I would love to own my own vineyard there.
Cannes has a cosmopolitan and glamorous appeal, not only for my character but also to readers. I know I would want to escape there in a book. I actually used Meopham, my home village in Kent, as my setting. It has a vineyard, it's beautiful and one of my favourite walks goes down through a lovely valley. 

How did you carry out your research?I used the information I gathered whilst in Provence and revisited Cannes staying in the apartment which became Lizzie’s home. It was perfect because it was located within a community rather than the touristy areas. I also did a week-long Wine Growers course at Plumpton College in Sussex. The Internet too is an invaluable research tool; if there is anything it can’t answer, it will lead you to the experts that can.

How did you learn your craft?
I read a lot and over the years I’ve been writing on and off, starting novels or short stories but never really sending anything out. I completed a BSc Hons majoring in Psychology with literature because there were very few creative writing courses around at that time but I subscribed to Writing Magazines and read books on writing. There are so many more nowadays. However, in the last two years I’ve been much more focused on my writing, joining the Romantic Novelists’ Association New Writers’ Scheme (NWS) and a novel class at The Write Place Creative Writing School, both of which have been invaluable. My weekly class improved my skills and motivation and the critiques I received from the NWS guided me to the professional standards I needed to attain. Both have been huge contributors to my writing confidence too; the helpfulness and friendliness of fellow writers has made learning my craft a real pleasure.

If your book was turned into a film who would you like to play the main characters?
Jessica Brown-Findlay or Emily Blunt as Lizzie, Jude Law as Cal, Sheridan Smith as Sophie and Emma Thompson as Lizzie’s mother Caroline.

Can you tell us something about your next book?
My next book is set both in London and, the beautiful Lake Geneva, the Swiss Riviera. Gina is fascinated by the Chateau de Chillon and its past haunting inhabitants. As she discovers more from one in particular, her life begins a path she could never have imagined.

If you were to take part in Desert Island Discs what would be your choice of book?
I would probably take the largest notebook I could to write in and write as small as I could because I wouldn’t know how long I would be there. But I know that’s not the point. I think it would have to be Pride and Prejudice. Jane Austen provided the best template for women writers and it never fails to entertain as well as teach me

Thank you for sharing with us today, Karen

Amazon UK: The Vineyard

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If you wish to have a book featured or contribute a craft item please contact us

Friday, May 16, 2014


Today we welcome Heather Rosser to tell us about the history behind her novel, In The Line of Duty.

I hadn’t set out to write a First World War novel as such. In the Line of Duty was inspired by the house on the Tal-y-fan mountain above Conwy built by my great-grandfather in 1912 and remained in the family for 60 years. My mother claimed the house was cursed because a builder was killed during its construction but my childhood memories are of carefree holidays exploring the beautiful mountains and coast of North Wales.

My great-grandfather was a railway police detective with offices in Euston and Llandudno Junction. For part of a chequered career his son, my grandfather, was a locomotive engineer. I chose my title, In the Line of Duty, to reflect the romance of railway journeys as well as the conflicts between duty and desire ever prevalent in war-time.

            There was a mystery surrounding my grandfather’s service as a sea plane pilot with the Royal Naval Air Service which I was determined to unravel. When I telephoned the Fleet Air Arm museum to find out why my grandfather had lost his commission as a Flight Lieutenant I was told that, according to a copy of the letter sent to him in 1917, ‘he was a very good pilot but had some reluctance to engage with the enemy’. Once I started researching the RNAS I began to understand my grandfather’s point of view. Pilots were the ‘eyes of the fleet’ and it wasn’t hard for me to imagine my young forebear, who had obtained his civilian pilot’s license in 1912, being excited about signing up and turning his glamorous hobby into a job. I never found out the exact circumstances leading to my grandfather losing his commission but my research, combined with family myths, enabled me to weave the facts into a credible story.

            However, his time with the RNAS wasn’t the only mystery surrounding my grandfather. Far more intriguing for the romance novelist was his illegitimate son. My mother dismissively referred to her elder half-brother as ‘a product of the First World War’. He was brought up and apparently spoilt by my great-grandparents. The parentage of his mother is unknown to this day. But, not long before she died, my mother told me she thought his mother was her own mother’s sister. Her mother had died when she was three, her father had re-married and this was the first time I had ever heard her mention her mother’s family. I was driving when she announced this bombshell and was too shocked to say anything. Sadly my mother died soon afterwards and it was too late to ask questions.

            The idea of turning some of my mother’s reminisces into a novel came very soon after her death. I became fascinated with places she had known, particularly the Welsh churchyard where her parents are buried. I desperately wanted her mother to be Welsh but, when I found out that she wasn’t, I lost interest in genealogy and wove my own story around family myth although the characters in In the Line of Duty have taken on a life of their own.

  William’s story is told through the eyes of his mother, Alice, and his sweetheart, Lottie. William and Alice are very loosely based on my grandfather and great-grandmother who lived in Belsize Park but Lottie’s family in Llandudno Junction come entirely from my imagination. During my research I became interested in the iniquitous custom of giving white feathers to men of all ages and abilities and I have used several such incidents to further the plot. Five years is a lot to cover in one novel and so each chapter begins with a quotation from The Times. This enables the reader to know how the experiences of Alice’s family in London and Lottie’s in North Wales relate to the wider events of the war.

Thank you, Heather.

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Tuesday, May 13, 2014

What use a kitchen?

Possessing little in the way of domestic skills, Laura E James found a much better use than cooking, for the family kitchen. Tucked neatly in one corner is her very small, but very tidy desk from where she produces issue-driven romantic novels, short stories, and flash fiction.
Living in and enjoying the inspirational county of Dorset, Laura is a graduate of the RNA NWS, and a Romaniac.
Her debut novel, ‘Truth or Dare?’ is published by award-winning Choc Lit.

What gave you the idea for your book and how long did it take you to write?

For years I read issue-based novels and was totally sold on the idea of posing moral questions within a story. I’m a big Jodi Picoult fan, and was particularly moved by My Sister’s Keeper. I loved the twist at the end. Alice Sebold is another author whose books have stayed with me – The Lovely Bones and The Almost Moon were so dark, I was drawn right in.
Two other writers I cite as my inspiration are Jill Mansell and Erica James. Both have the ability to make me laugh and cry, and their scene setting is wonderful. With this in mind, when I decided it was time to write ‘that novel I’ve always said is inside’, ‘Truth or Dare?’ emerged. I was toying with the idea of knowing when to do the wrong thing for the right reason and examining if this was ever acceptable (my Picoult/Sebold influence), but with my love of romance and family relationship novels,(my Jill/Erica influence), I was focused on a hopeful or happy ever after ending. There’s always a twist, too.

‘Truth or Dare?’ took six years … yes, you read that correctly … six years from day one to publication. I
was my mother’s full-time carer and I had two young children, so most of my writing took place late at night, fitting in what I could, when I could.

If there was a soundtrack to accompany your book what three songs or pieces of music would you choose and why?

I write in silence for the most part, but music has solved some plot problems. Paloma Faith played a big part in ‘Truth or Dare?’. One line in her song, ‘Black and Blue’ helped me define my antagonist’s actions.
When I need to bury myself in romance, I play Tchaikovsky’s ‘Pas De Deux’, from The Nutcracker Suite. It’s a beautiful, emotional, honest piece of music. I stop breathing when I listen.
For desperately sad scenes, it’s Maria Callas and ‘O Mio Babbino Caro’. It makes me cry every time. It’s such a heartfelt plea from a daughter to her father to let her be with the boy she loves. If she can’t be with him, she will drown herself. So tragic.

How do you fit your writing around your home life?

With my children at school, I have the chance to write during the day, but I’m still very much a late night writer.
I set aside weekends, unless I’m in edits, and we ensure we have family time, playing games, swimming, or going to the beach. I love playing Cluedo.

What part of promoting your book do you enjoy most?

I love getting out there in person and talking to readers. I used to sing in competitions and shows, and am drawn to the spotlight like a moth to the flame. Any chance to be on stage, in a panel or up at the front giving a reading, and I’m there. I would attend the proverbial opening of an envelope. Well, it’s stationery …

Do you enjoy research?

Research is great. I have learned so much during the course of writing the novels.
Part One of ‘Truth or Dare?’ is set in the eighties, and I had great fun recalling the fashion of the time, and watching Madonna and Adam Ant videos. And checking out the size of car phones back then. I’d forgotten quite how large they were.

If your book was turned into a film who would you like to play the main characters?

For Part Two, set in modern day, I would choose Sandra Bullock for my heroine, Kate Blair. For my Irish hero Declan O’Brien, it would be Rob Lowe. Ahhh. Rob Lowe …
And I’m back.
That was a pleasant few minutes on Google.

Thank you so much for having me here today.
Laura J

It’s been a pleasure, Laura. Thank you for joining us.

Watch out for Laura's next book, 'Follow Me, Follow You' due in September

Facebook: Laura E James
Twitter: @Laura_E_James 

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Friday, May 9, 2014


We welcome Henriette Gyland who tells about her move from contemporary fiction to historical and back...

Nobody decides to write a historical novel without having a love of history, and it was that love which prompted me to write The Highwayman’s Daughter, after having previously published two contemporary novels. Despite my enthusiasm, the shift from contemporary suspense to historical adventure was not without its fair share of challenges, mainly due to the amount of research involved. The things we take for granted in our contemporary society just… weren’t there.
There was no central heating, no supermarkets, no NHS, no flushing loos. You could’t pop out for a Starbucks, watch the game on TV, or travel from London to Bath in under two hours, and neither can your characters. Yet they still need warmth, food, sanitation, health care, entertainment etc. because people are essentially the same whatever world they inhabit.
First, the setting. Hounslow Heath, a dark and desolate place with the occasional gibbet displaying the decaying remains of some unfortunate person hanged at Tyburn, and notorious for the number of hold-ups taking place there. Yet this pot-holed track was the only road from London to fashionable Bath. Today very little is left of the Heath, with a large part of it buried underneath one of the Heathrow runways (hence the name).
The action takes place in 1768 in the town of Hounslow and surrounding area. Today Hounslow is a part of London, but in 1768 it was a village several miles out and the first coaching stop on the journey to Bath. I found myself poring over old maps, researching into road (and weather) conditions, finding out more about coaching inns and coach travel in general, as well as the town itself which at the height of the coaching era sometimes had more horses in it than people!
Then there were the buildings mentioned in the novel, one of which was Newgate Prison in London. The prison appears in a number of novels by Charles Dickens, but that was no real help because this was a rebuild of an older prison that burned down in 1780 during the Gordon Riots. I turned to Peter Ackroyd’s Biography of London for information on the earlier one.
For the clothes people wore, and how they lived, a trip to the Victoria & Albert Museum proved incredibly useful, and ditto several visits to John Soane’s house on Lincoln’s Inn Fields, and the Museum of London. The food people ate was another real challenge, but I managed to track down some Georgian recipes and even try out one or two!
As for sanitation and the health of the population, one doesn’t have to travel very far back in time to discover how, more often than not, people died from complaints and illnesses which are curable today, at least in the western world. My son was astounded when I explained that the Spanish flu in 1918 claimed more lives than the whole of WW1 put together. (“You can die from flu?!”)
These were just some of the challenges involved.
Finally, regarding my career as an author, there is always a risk when switching from one genre to another that you may lose some of your readers, but I hope there’s enough mystery and suspense in The Highwayman’s Daughter to keep the fans interested. Sometimes you just have to go where the story takes you, and perhaps it will reassure those readers that I intend to continue to write both types of books!

The Highwayman's Daughter:

Is it a crime to steal a heart?
Hounslow, 1768. Jack Blythe, heir to the Earl of Lampton, is a man with great expectations. So when his carriage is held up by a masked woman, brandishing a pistol and dressed as a gentleman of the road, he wholly expects to have his purse stolen. And when he senses something strangely familiar about the lovely little bandit, Jack also expects to win his cousin’s wager by tracking her down first.
But as Jack and the highwaywoman enter into a swashbuckling game of cat and mouse, uncovering an intricate web of fiercely guarded family secrets, the last thing Jack expects to have stolen is his heart.

Henriette grew up in Denmark but moved to England after graduating from university. She has worked as a translator for 22 years and spent 3 of those translating novels for Mills & Boon.
 She started writing 15 years ago, just for fun, and her third novel, “The Highwayman’s Daughter”, a historical adventure, will be published by Choc Lit on the 7th May 2014.

Twitter: @henrigyland

Thank you, Henriette, 

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Tuesday, May 6, 2014

CHATTING WITH: Tanith Davenport

Welcome to the blog, Tanith

What gave you the idea for your book and how long did it take you to write?
I originally planned out “Photograph” several years ago, having watched a programme on women in the military, but it took on new life after reading a quote from an Isaac Asimov essay referring to a colleague of his who had got published in a journal that never accepted science fiction. The concept of someone else succeeding in doing something you had always dreamed of but never dared to try struck a chord with me and inspired my heroine Tara.

If there was a soundtrack to accompany your book what five songs or pieces of music would you choose and why?
1.      “Photograph” – Def Leppard. This is the song which inspired the title, as it’s written from the POV of a man pining after an unattainable celebrity.
2.      “Break Me Shake Me” – Savage Garden. I had this song in my head when writing the  first sex scene between Tara
3.      “Be Mine!” – Robyn. The yearning expressed in this song makes me think of Tara’s longing for Liam.
4.      “What Can I Do” – The Corrs. Again this applies to Tara and Liam, but also Ryan’s thoughts about Tara.
5.      “Apple Eyes” – Swoop. Ever since I first heard this song I imagined it playing when Tara sees Azure and Liam first approaching the yacht in the tender.
How do you fit your writing around your home life?
I have a day job and a husband who also uses the computer, so generally I do a lot of planning while watching TV and then spend an hour a day typing madly.

Do you enjoy research?
I love research. It’s one of the most interesting parts of being a writer – as well as the deep research you do for background, you never know what you’ll need to Google at any one point. I have one friend, a doctor, who has been asked all sorts of bizarre questions.

If your book was turned into a film who would you like to play the main characters?
Sara Paxton. She’s one of my favourite actresses – I think she would be able to capture all the facets of Tara’s personality.

Author Biog:
I have been writing for ten years and first got into erotic romance through the Romantic Novelists' Association New Writer's Scheme; they critiqued my debut novel "The Hand He Dealt", which was published in June 2011 and was nominated for the Joan Hessayon Award.
I live in Yorkshire with my husband and two bratty tuxedo cats. When I'm not writing I spend my time watching horror movies, listening to rock music, travelling to new places and trying out new restaurants.

Thank you for visiting with us today,Tanith.

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Friday, May 2, 2014


With our annual Conference fast approaching we’ve invited Jan Jones along to tell us about the hard work that goes on behind the scenes that makes our weekend so enjoyable.

Welcome Jan. How do you source venues and how far ahead do you have to book?
We like to venue hop around the country to keep travelling distances fair for our different regional members. We start by identifying a couple of regions that we'd like to look at next, then we go to the Academic Venue Show in May to talk to the University Conference departments in the relevant areas. If we find any places suitable to our requirements, we go on a site visit to see what they are like in the flesh (so to speak). It would be impossible to commit to a site without actually having been there - sometimes several times - to walk the routes, check out the facilities, meet the conference liaison team, taste the food etc. We do the best we can to keep the conference affordable for our members, many of whom do not make a vast amount from their writing. I wouldn't dream of asking them to commit a substantial sum of money to a venue where I hadn't personally checked that everything was as good as it could be.

How many helpers do you have leading up to the event?
Previously, Roger Sanderson and I have done everything. We still visit the venues, liaise with the conference departments there and look after the delegate management. Jenny Barden now organises the programme and coordinates the whole conference and Elaine Everest will deal with the industry appointments.

Do speakers volunteer or do you have to approach them?
A mixture of both. In general they volunteer. Often they are asked.

We've had some fab goody bags in the past. How do you source the content?

We don't! Apart from asking any publishers taking part in the conference if they have any books to spare, we put out a general call - and are then inundated with material. A very satisfactory arrangement. I bring the items up in my car and then the Friday morning of the conference is spent dragooning everyone within range into a vast assembly line filling the bags.

Are you any good at delegating or do you take too much upon yourself?
I'm hopeless. Jenny Barden is far better.

Food is an important part of any conference. How do you deal with that aspect? We loved the choice for the Gala Dinner last year.
We try the food on the site visits, discuss menus with the conference department (if possible - sometimes the only options are "chef's choice"), and choose the gala dinner menu from what is offered to us.

After initial planning when does it become a full on job?
It is an ongoing process - sometimes an hour or two a day, sometimes an intense burst of activity for a week or two. It gets very fraught at the end of May when the conference packs are being assembled, and then afterwards when people's choices of sessions come in. Certainly in the two or three weeks before the conference itself I don't get any writing of my own done.

Do you book a holiday after the conference to recover?
No. I write.

If anyone wishes to volunteer either before the event or during the weekend of the conference can they contact you?
Yes, please!

Where are we in 2015?
Next year's conference takes place at Queen Mary, University of London, on the Mile End Road in London. It is a compact site alongside the Regent's Canal, two stops down the Central Line from Liverpool Street Station. The dates are 10th-12th July 2015.

Thank you, Jan.

Find details here on how to book your place on this year’s conference at Harper Adams University, Newport, Shropshire. 11th – 13th July.

This was brought to you by the blogging team of Elaine Everest and Natalie Kleinman. If you would like to contribute an article to this blog contact us on