Welcome back to my Romantic Novelists Association feature. We had a slight technical hitch with the blog and I lost all my prepared posts. Now am back on track and 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.
❤️ The Cottage in a Cornish Cove by Cass Grafton
A heart-warming tale of discovering all you never wanted is exactly what you need.
Orphaned as a baby and raised by uncaring relatives, much of Anna Redding’s happiness as a child came from the long summer holidays spent with an elderly family friend, Aunt Meg, in the coastal village of Polkerran.
With Aunt Meg’s passing, Anna is drawn back to the West Country, relocating to the Cornish cove where she was once so happy. Filled with memories, she hopes to perhaps open a B&B—and perhaps cross paths with Alex Tremayne again, a local boy she used to have a major crush on and who only had to walk past Anna to make her heart flutter.
Settling into her new life, and enjoying her work for the older, reclusive and—to be honest—often exasperating Oliver Seymour, Anna is delighted when Alex reappears in Polkerran and sweeps her off her feet.
The stars finally seem to be aligned, but just as Anna thinks all she’s ever wished for is within reach, a shock discovery brings everything under threat, and she discovers she’s living a dream that isn’t hers.
Can Anna rescue the new life she has made for herself and, when the testing moment comes, will anyone be there to hold her hand?
The Cottage in a Cornish Cove is the first in a series of uplifting romances from Cass Grafton. Get to know the warm and funny locals of Polkerran, wallow in the charm of a Cornish fishing village and fall in love with romance all over again.
Cass Grafton writes the sort of stories she loves to read – heart-warming, character driven and strong on location. Having moved around extensively and lived in three countries, she finds places inspiring and the setting of her novels often becomes as much a part of the story as her characters.
She leans heavily towards the upbeat and insists on a happy ever after. As one of her favourite authors, Jane Austen, once wrote, ‘let other pens dwell on guilt and misery’.
Cass loves travelling, words, cats and wine but never in the same glass. She has two grown up children and currently splits her time between Switzerland, where she lives with her husband and imaginary cats, and England, where she lives with her characters.
❤️ RNA Feature
Can you tell us a little about your publishing journey, please?
Yes, of course! I started by writing online fan fiction (initially Harry Potter co-writes with a friend, then Jane Austen inspired stories). It was a great apprenticeship and gave me the chance to hone my writing skills and improve my craft.
Initially, I self-published my Pride & Prejudice inspired novels, then went on to write time-travel romance, featuring Jane Austen herself as a character, with my co-writing partner, Ada Bright. All of the books were then picked up by Canelo Escape.
I’ve returned to my self publishing roots with my new Cornwall series, but I have another work in progress that I will seek a publisher for when it is ready.
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 joined the New Writers’ Scheme initially, but when the new Indie Membership category opened up the following year, I transferred over to that, then became a Full Member in 2019.
Joining was one of the best things I’ve ever done as a writer. The people I’ve met and the friends I’ve made are invaluable to me, as is the opportunity the RNA offers to attend events, take in some excellent presentations/talks and get to meet industry professionals.
What was the inspiration behind your latest release?
I had all these fabulous memories of holidays in Cornwall and often dreamed of living there. As I couldn’t see it ever happening, I decided to imagine a story where it did so that I could live there through my main character!
Do you find it hard to let your characters go when you finish writing the book?
Very much so! Luckily, I’m continuing this series, so I plan on spending a lot of time with them again soon.
What was your favourite read of 2019?
It was a book that actually came out in 2008 but one I didn’t discover until I met the author. It’s by Alison Larkin and it’s called The English American, which is based on Alison’s acclaimed autobiographical one-woman show.
It tells the story of Pippa Dunn, adopted as an infant and raised as ‘terribly British’ before—aged 28—discovering her birth parents are American. Finally, understanding why she’s so different from everyone she knows, Pippa sets off for America to meet her birth parents, soon believing she’s found her ‘self’ and everything she thought she wanted. Or has she?
It’s hilarious and poignant by turn, and I highly recommend it, especially the audio version, which Alison herself narrates.
Do you read other romance authors and who would you recommend?
I’ve been reading romance novels since my teens (I grew up on a diet of Mills & Boon), and I have books on my shelves from early Jilly Cooper through to Marion Keyes, Jane Green, Lisa Jewell and more recently Heidi Swain and Sue Moorcroft. Lately, I’ve found I’m reading less because I’m writing, and that makes me sad. When I do turn to a romance novel, though, I instinctively choose an author who’s in the RNA and have a growing collection (I much prefer paperbacks and only read ebooks under durress). As for my TBR list…
Was there a point in your life that a book helped you get through, if so which one?
Yes, absolutely. When I was diagnosed with breast cancer ten years ago, my concentration and my ability to focus on reading was shot, not helped by having ‘chemo brain’ either. To make the situation worse, my dad died just as I ended my treatment.
I turned to an old favourite, the Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling. Having read them several times already, I didn’t need to concentrate too heavily and it was like having old friends around me to whom I could turn for comfort when I felt the need.
Is there anyone that you would like to mention and thank for their support of your writing?
So many people! Writing the Acknowledgements is one of my favourite parts when a book is being made ready for publishing. Beyond that, my husband is my best support in everything I do, including giving me writing space and time. He reads everything I write as well.
There are so many people who have supported me over the years, reading, reviewing, proofreading and generally being encouraging and—occasionally—kicking my rear if I need it! I’d hate to miss someone’s name, so I’d love to say a huge, heartfelt thank you to every author, editor, blogger, reader and reviewer I’ve ever had the good fortune to interact with. I’m also in some exceptional groups on social media filled with inspiring writers who are so generous with their support and guidance.
Beyond that, I’d love to personally thank every member of the RNA who has ever supported me on social media with sharing and tweeting and general all-round kindness and encouragement.
If you had the power to give everyone in the world one book, what would it be and why?
Hmm, tricky (and excellent!) question! I suppose I’d opt for the book on my shelves that I’ve re-read the most over the years: Pride & Prejudice by Jane Austen. It’s not a long read, but it’s full of wit and on-point observations on human behaviour. Oh yes, and there’s that romance thing going on too!
What are you working on now?
I’m working on a few things, including the next book in the Cornish Cove series. Ada Bright and I have plans for the third book in our time-travel romance series. I’m also working on a completely different women’s fiction book with a quirky heroine who’s a lot of fun to write!
Lastly, do you have any questions for your readers?
Yes! I tend to write in the third person rather than the first. Do you have a preference, and does it influence whether you give a story a try or not?
Also, I write historical romance with ‘head hopping’ POVs, but with the time-travel and the contemporary romance, I stick to the main character’s POV. Again, do you have a preference and would it stop you from reading a book if it wasn’t the POV you favour?
❤️ Buy Link
❤️ Connect with Me
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Thank you to Cass for taking part in my special feature.