#RNA60 Birthday Special Feature with Susanna Bavin @SusannaBavin @AllisonandBusby #RomanceReadingMonth

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💫 Welcome  

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.

Since 1960 has RNA has awarded prizes to the best in romantic fiction, and has nurtured new writing through the New Writers’ Scheme.

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.

Website: https://romanticnovelistsassociation.org/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/RNAtweets

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Romantic.Novelists.Association/

💫Susanna Bavin

1908, Manchester. Mary Maitland is an attractive and intelligent young woman determined to strike out on her own and earn a living. Finding work at a women’s employment agency, her creative talent is soon noticed and Mary begins writing articles for newspapers and magazines.

But being of independent and progressive mind are troublesome traits when those you hold dear must constantly live up to the expectations of the well-to-do family to which they are linked. With increasing pressures from the powers that be, can Mary find the fine line between honouring her family and honouring herself?

💫 The Poor Relation

1908, Manchester. Mary Maitland is an attractive and intelligent young woman determined to strike out on her own and earn a living. Finding work at a women’s employment agency, her creative talent is soon noticed and Mary begins writing articles for newspapers and magazines.

But being of independent and progressive mind are troublesome traits when those you hold dear must constantly live up to the expectations of the well-to-do family to which they are linked. With increasing pressures from the powers that be, can Mary find the fine line between honouring her family and honouring herself?

💫Feature 

Can you tell us a little about your publishing journey, please?

I was a child-writer, mostly writing boarding school stories. In my teens I loved historical novels and started writing them. When I was in my 20s, I had a literary agent who loved what I had written, but nothing ever came of it. I then spent years writing purely for pleasure before I decided to aim for publication again and I wrote three novels in order to have a body of work to offer. Laura Longrigg at MBA signed me up. Those three books, plus another one, A Respectable Woman, have all been published by Allison & Busby. I now also write as Polly Heron for Corvus.

Can you tell us how you became involved with the Romantic Novelists Association and what it means for you to be part of it?

Like so many writers, I joined the RNA as part of the New Writers Scheme, in which you can submit a novel to be critiqued by a published author. I put three books through the process and the feedback was invaluable, so I am grateful to the RNA for that. The other wonderful thing about the RNA is the writers I’ve met and become friends with. Writing can be a lonely business – for years no one else knew I wrote – but now I can’t imagine being without the support of fellow writers. The RNA throws great parties too!

What was the inspiration behind your latest release?

The inspiration behind The Poor Relation came from reading about the lives of suffragettes. I also wanted to write about a heroine who was determined to become a writer, but could only achieve this against the odds. And the will, which causes so much trouble in the book, was based on a real will. Trust me – it’s a very sobering moment when you’re told that you have inherited something, but you can’t have it until another person dies.

Do you find it hard to let your characters go when you finish writing the book?

I feel very invested in my characters. It’s my job to know them inside out, so when the story finishes, there is a little moment when I gulp at the thought of not being with them again, but then it is time to start work on the next book and – hurrah – I have a new set of characters to become involved with. As Polly Heron, I am writing a trilogy for Corvus and some characters carry on from one book to another, so I don’t have to say goodbye to them just yet!

What was your favourite read of 2019?

I read the first two books in Jean Fullerton’s Ration Book series – A Ration Book Dream, which I thought was the best book I’d read all year until I read the sequel, A Ration Book Christmas. Jean Fullerton knows her stuff and has thoroughly researched the details of everyday life during the Blitz. Her stories are filled with emotion and drama and Dream is outstanding because it chooses an unusual focus. The third book, A Ration Book Childhood, is approaching the top of my TBR pile.

Do you read other romance authors and who would you recommend?

I love sagas and Carol Rivers is a favourite of mine, especially her Home Front stories. I also love books by Anna Jacobs and Dilly Court. I recommend Another You by Jane Cable, which is in places tough to read because the heroine is in such an emotionally painful situation, but which is a wonderful mixture of romance and mystery. And if you enjoy warm-hearted rom com, try Come Away With Me by Maddie Please.

Was there a point in your life that a book helped you get through, if so which one?

I was widowed young and for a long time afterwards had trouble concentrating. I would start reading a book and then simply not be able to focus. Then I picked up Without Charity by Michelle Paver and I was captivated. I remember feeling enormously grateful to the author for enabling me to escape into the world of the story.

Is there anyone that you would like to mention and thank for their support of your writing?

I’d like to thank the Canadian romance author Jen Gilroy. We have been friends since 2014, having met through Twitter long before we met in person. When I decided to try for publication, it took me two years of re-writes before I got an agent and at one point I seriously considered stopping. After all, I had already had one dream come true by moving to North Wales – how could I expect a second dream to come true? Jen had no idea I was having doubts, but she sent emails, encouraging me not to give up – and I kept going. Jen is always there to lend an ear or to share a groan or a laugh. She is a much appreciated constant in my writing life.

If you had the power to give everyone in the world one book, what would it be and why?

My choice of book is Norman Longmate’s How We Lived Then: a History of Everyday Life During the Second World War (Hutchinson, 1971), which is a comprehensive and informative account of life on the Home Front that also happens to be hugely readable and entertaining. I would share this because it is about human resilience and the ability of ordinary people to cope with whatever is thrown at them. And I’d like to offer readers the chance to have it as an audiobook, because I think that being read to is one of life’s great pleasures.

What are you working on now?

As Polly Heron I am writing a 1920s saga series for Corvus. The first book, The Surplus Girls, was published at the beginning of 2020. Book 2 is already written and now I am working on book 3, which is going to be a Christmas-themed story, something I have wanted to write for ages and am making the most of.

Lastly, do you have any questions for your readers?

The question I would most like to ask is: what is your favourite era/decade for a story?

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linktr.ee/Lovebooksgroup

💫 Final Thoughts

Thank you to Susanna for taking part in my special feature. 

Happy reading,

Kelly

In the name of full transparency, please be aware that this blog

contains affiliate links and any purchases made through such links will result in a small commission for us (at no extra cost for you).

4 comments on “#RNA60 Birthday Special Feature with Susanna Bavin @SusannaBavin @AllisonandBusby #RomanceReadingMonth”

  1. Great interview although it looks as though one of the answers is duplicated? All the same, a huge thank you to Susanna for mentioning my book, Another You. It means a great deal when a writer of her stature loves a book you’ve written.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I’ve recently read The Surplus Girls, I really enjoyed it and look forward to the next one in the series. I’ve also got A Respectable Woman to read yet.

    Like

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