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.
Italian-born Giulia Skye spent her childhood watching classic Hollywood films and thinking up her own romantic stories. After two decades working in TV production, she knew turning those stories into novels would be much more enjoyable – and far cheaper – than turning them into films. She still keeps her hand in TV production but is at her happiest being a stay-at-home mum, spending time with her family, growing her own vegetables, and conjuring up sizzling stories about sexy heroes meeting feisty heroines who aren’t always as they at first appear. When Adam Met Evie is her first novel, Book 1 of her “Take a Holiday” series.
💫 When Adam Met Evie (Take a Holiday Book 1)
When former Olympic Swimmer, Michael Adams—now reluctantly Canada’s hottest reality TV star— insults his fake showbiz wife on social media, he escapes the ensuing scandal and jumps on the first flight to Australia. Desperate to experience ordinary life again—if only for a few weeks—he becomes “Adam”, just another tourist traveling through the Outback. But with a reward out for his safe return and his fame’s nasty habit of catching up with him when he least expects, he needs a disguise… and he’s just found it.
Sweet and scruffy British backpacker, Evie Blake, is taking a year out of her busy London life. Tired of lies and liars, she’s looking for adventure to heal her broken heart. So when the hot Canadian she meets at the campground offers to be her travel partner through Western Australia’s wild Kimberley region, she grabs the chance, unaware he’s got the world out looking for him.
Can you tell us a little about your publishing journey, please?
My publishing journey started when I joined Romantic Novelists’ Association’s New Writers’ Scheme in 2016. What followed was a huge learning curve – about creative writing as well as the publishing industry. When I finished my debut novel, When Adam Met Evie, I started to go down the traditional publishing route and signed with an agent I’d pitched to at the RNA Conference. But it didn’t work out between because I wanted to retain full control over my work. I then realised that my “publishing mentality” is more suited to self-publishing as I have a business mind, and having worked in the TV industry for over twenty years, I had all the skills. Producing a book isn’t that different from producing a TV show. I just needed the confidence in my writing. This was soon gained by receiving consistently good feedback from beta readers and experienced authors within the RNA who’d read my novel. I knew I had a great product to sell, but I needed to learn how to sell it. I then joined the Alliance of Independent Authors (ALLi) which, along with the RNA’s continued support, really put me on the road to publication.
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 stumbled across the RNA website quite by chance in December 2015 and discovered their New Writers’ Scheme opened for subscription again the following month. It was the first time I’d heard of either the RNA or the NWS but I decided that joining was exactly what I needed to make me take my writing seriously. The months leading up to this moment had been full of contemplation for me. I’d turned 40, both my children had started school, and my love for TV work was very much on the wane – and I kept asking myself, When are you going to finish that novel? Joining the RNA meant that I was part of a community full of like minded people. It took me a year before I truly got involved with it though, and attending my first Chapter meeting was a massive turning point. I found myself sitting amongst twenty lovers of romantic fiction, just like me. Up until that point, the only person I spoke to about Romance was my poor husband who listened, as he always does, but didn’t have much of a clue about what I was going on about. After that first Chapter meeting, I was buzzing with excitement. And it was this excitement that made me force myself to plant my bottom on a chair and write, write, write! Being part of the RNA means I have “colleagues”. It’s a fantastic network and I can’t imagine what it would be like to write a book without being part of such a super supportive writing community.
What was the inspiration behind your latest release?
In a previous life before children, my husband and I took a year out of our lives to travel. While in Australia, we took a night bus down the Queensland coast which reminded me of my favourite film, It Happened One Night (Capra, 1934) – which was based on a story called Night Bus by Samuel Hopkins Adams (and yes, I did pinch his surname for my hero as little homage!). Writing a road trip romance was a great way to relive my carefree backpacker days, but the inspiration for my sportsman-turned-reality-TV-star hero came from my an experience I had when working on a TV show which featured the current reality TV stars of the day. In the production office one afternoon, surrounded by fraught producers prepping for that evening’s studio recording, my lovely Co-Ordinator turned pale as she looked up from her computer screen and announced that the key talent for that day’s show–who should have been in a car on her way to the TV studio half an hour ago–had backed out. Now, this is not what anyone wants to hear three hours before a recording in front of 200 people who’d already started queuing at the studio doors – and “WTF?” doesn’t even come close to what came out of those fraught producers’ mouths that day! The upshot was that this reality TV star was heavily “advised”, via her agent, that she would not appear on any TV shows made by this (very major) broadcaster ever again if she didn’t turn up and perform. Needless to say, she turned up. The show got made and the fraught producers–who’d aged another ten years from the incident–went back to being as happy as fraught producers could be. But it got me thinking… what if she hadn’t turned up? What if she’d thought, “Blow it, I’m doing it”, then jumped on a plane to Australia to escape the backlash? Voilà! My runaway celebrity hero was born.
Do you find it hard to let your characters go when you finish writing the book?
Yes, absolutely! I’m really into the writing my second book now but I still find myself thinking a lot about Adam and Evie. I hope I will love my new characters just as much. I understand from other writers that feeling this way is normal!
What was your favourite read of 2019?
I really enjoyed Christina Pishiris’s novel Love Songs for Sceptics. I loved her voice – so funny and down to earth, and I really liked her heroine, Zoe Frixos. A very refreshing read.
Do you read other romance authors and who would you recommend?
Yes, all the time. I only read romance! These days, I have very little energy left at the end of the day so I don’t race through books like I used to but I always recommend my favourite romance authors; Susan Elizabeth Phillips, Rachel Gibson, Julie James and Nora Roberts. Back in the day, I would read these authors well into the night. Such great, escapist fun.
Was there a point in your life that a book helped you get through, if so which one?
There wasn’t just one book, but a collection of Rachel Gibson novels really helped me out during a particularly bad period. It was about 6 years ago, my sister’s partner died very suddenly and I was so heart-broken for her. I had a baby and a toddler so I was heavily sleep deprived but each night I feared going to bed because I didn’t want to think about what had happened. So I read romance novels back to back. They soothed me and distracted me with a happier thoughts until I fell asleep.
Is there anyone that you would like to mention and thank for their support of your writing?
There are so many people to thank and mention! I’ve met so many wonderful authors – published and unpublished – within the RNA who are always so generous with their advice and encouragement. But closer to home, I’d like to thank my husband. He whole-heartedly supports me in everything I do and constantly reminds me not to sweat the small stuff.
If you had the power to give everyone in the world one book, what would it be and why?
Snuggle Up, Sleepy Ones by Claire Freedman and Tina Macnaughton. We used to read this to our children eeevvveeeerrry night when they were very young. I can still recite it word for word! It’s full of simple yet gorgeous prose, so sweet and gentle, and the illustrations are beautiful. This is a book for everyone, it’s utterly charming (and great for getting kids to sleep!!).
What are you working on now?
My next book is called The Summer of Sebastian and is due to be released in late Summer 2020. Sebastian is a former Olympic swimmer, working in England for the summer and hoping to repair his damaged reputation, until disgraced computer-geek, Helen Hobbs, is mistaken as his girlfriend. I’m currently struggling with the logistics of the meet-cute and I’m constantly full of doubt about whether my current scenes work, but I’m 100% behind this novel. It’s an idea that I’ve been playing about with since my twenties and so I remind myself daily that there must be something worthwhile about it if it’s stuck with me for so many years.
Lastly, do you have any questions for your readers?
Yes. If your perfect romance novel was a cake, what would be your main ingredients to make it ultra-delicious? And what would make you spit it out and feed it to the birds?
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💫 Final Thoughts
Thank you to Giulia for taking part in my special feature.
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