Today on my month-long Romantic Novelists Association feature. Each day in February I will have a different author on the blog, talking to me about their books. It is to help celebrate the sixtieth birthday of the RNA and to raise awareness of how it might be a great fit for you if you are an author. I hope you enjoy the features over the next few weeks. Be sure to give the authors a follow on social media and add the books you fancy from the selection of great authors to your own TBR.
💫Romantic Novelists Association
The Romantic Novelists’ Association was founded in 1960 to both celebrate, and demand respect for, romantic fiction. Founder members included Denise Robins, Barbara Cartland, Elizabeth Goudge, Netta Muskett, Catherine Cookson and Rosamunde Pilcher. The first President of the Association, Denise Robins, noted that although romantic fiction gave great pleasure to many readers, the writers almost felt they had to apologise for what they did. The RNA was going to put a stop to those apologies and, instead, celebrate and promote romantic authorship.
In 1966, an early Vice President of the association, Elizabeth Goudge, commented that ‘As this world becomes increasingly ugly, callous and materialistic it needs to be reminded that the old fairy stories are rooted in truth, that imagination is of value, that happy endings do, in fact, occur, and that the blue spring mist that makes and ugly street look beautiful is just as real a thing as the street itself.’
Today, the RNA continues to support and champion the authorship of romantic fiction that shows the value of imagination and the possibility of a happy ending and also celebrates the broader spectrum of romantic fiction that explores the more challenging aspects of relationships and human experience.
Lynne Shelby writes romance/contemporary women’s fiction, and her latest novel, is There She Goes. She has worked at a variety of jobs from stable girl to child actor’s chaperone to legal administrator, but now writes full time. When not writing or reading, Lynne can usually be found at the theatre or exploring a foreign city – Paris, New York, Rome, Copenhagen, Athens – writer’s notebook, camera and sketchbook in hand. She lives in London with her husband, and has three adult children who live nearby.
💫There She Goes
When aspiring actress Julie Farrell meets actor Zac Diaz, she is instantly attracted to him, but he shows no interest in her. Julie, who has yet to land her first professional acting role, can’t help wishing that her life was more like a musical, and that she could meet a handsome man who’d sweep her into his arms and tap-dance her along the street…
After early success on the stage, Zac has spent the last three years in Hollywood, but has failed to forge a film career. Now back in London, he is determined to re-establish himself as a theatre actor. Focused solely on his work, he has no time for distractions, and certainly no intention of getting entangled in a committed relationship…
Auditioning for a new West End show, Julie and Zac act out a love scene, but will they ever share more than a stage kiss?
Can you tell us a little about your publishing journey, please?
I can’t remember a time when I wasn’t writing stories, and I first submitted a manuscript to a publisher when I was fourteen (they didn’t publish it, but were very encouraging about my writing). I wrote in various genres over the years (although all my stories featured a romantic subplot), and submitted both a hard SF novel and a historical fantasy to a publisher only to receive an ‘it’s not for us’ letter. About seven years ago, I ‘discovered’ romantic fiction and realised that this was what I’d been writing all along. From then on, I focused on stories about modern relationships and left out the swords and spaceships! In 2014, by chance, I spotted the Accent Press and Woman magazine Writing Competition for unpublished, contemporary women’s fiction writers, and entered the manuscript that was to become my debut novel, French Kissing, when it won the first prize of a publishing contract. It was published in 2015.
Can you tell us how you became involved with the Romantic Novelists Association and what it means for you to be part of it?
I first joined the Romantic Novelists Association when I got a place on the New Writers Scheme, which is open to unpublished authors. Every year, members of the NWS can submit a manuscript of a romantic novel for a critique by an experienced writer. I’m delighted to now be a published member of such a supportive writers’ group. Writing is, of necessity, often a solitary occupation and the RNA gives me the opportunity to meet so many wonderful fellow romantic novelists who are always so generous with their advice and expertise.
What was the inspiration behind your latest release?
While I’ve never wanted to act professionally, I love visiting the theatre, and many of my relatives and friends are actors. It was my fascination with their world that inspired my latest release, There She Goes. I know from their experiences that acting can be a very glamorous way to earn a living, but it is also incredibly demanding, over-crowded and competitive, with auditions where over a hundred girls can be competing for just one role. There She Goes is a love story, but it was inspired by the reality behind the scenes of the glittering world of the theatre, and it shows the hard work, grit and dedication to the craft of acting that goes into becoming a successful actor.
Do you find it hard to let your characters go when you finish writing the book?
Absolutely! It takes me a year to write a novel, so by the time I’ve written it, I’ve grown used to being in the company of my characters and miss them when I stop writing about them. So that I don’t have to let them go entirely, I have main characters in one novel make guest appearances as minor characters in other books.
What was your favourite read of 2019?
This is a very hard question because I read so many brilliant novels in 2019, but if I have to choose one, it would be First Time in Forever by Sarah Morgan
Do you read other romance authors and who would you recommend?
I read in every genre, but most of the books I read do fall into the broad spectrum of books that make up romantic fiction. Just a few of my favourite romance authors that I’d recommend are Miranda Dickinson, Harriet Evans, Paige Toon, Sarah Morgan, Karen Swan, and JoJo Moyes.
Was there a point in your life that a book helped you get through, if so which one?
Not exactly helping me get through a point in my life, but when I was a history student I did answer a question in my final exams based on what I’d learnt about Louis XIV from reading Sergeanne Golon’s Angelique and the King, which I think is an example of just how important books can be, and how you can learn from fiction without even realising it.
Is there anyone that you would like to mention and thank for their support of your writing?
I’d like to thank my family for their beta-reading, book-trailer making, website designing and all-round general cheer-leading – and for answering my numerous questions about the theatre and film industry. And also my inspiring and talented writer friends, collectively the Ten Muses, who I met through the Romantic Novelists’ Association.
If you had the power to give everyone in the world one book, what would it be and why?
The Great Gatsby by F Scott Fitzgerald, because this exquisitely plotted novel is my favourite book ever.
What are you working on now?
I’ll soon be starting the edits for my next novel, which is due to be published in June 2020, a contemporary romance set mainly in an English seaside village, with a foray to London. I’m also working on another contemporary romance set in London, Athens and a Greek island.
Lastly, do you have any questions for your readers?
Not a question, but a thank you for reading my books.
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💫 Final Thoughts
Thank you to Lynne for taking part in my special feature.
Poster design by Amanda Horan at Let’s Get Booked – http://letsgetbooked.com/