Today was the bi-monthly local Romantic Novelists’ Association lunch. I love going to these – not only is it held in a nice venue, and I get lunch out, the event makes me feel young and rather techno whizzy (as opposed to feeling old and techno Neanderthal, which is my usual state).
Out of about fourteen people present, there was an author in her thirties and then, at a sprightly fifty-one, I was second youngest. (Apart from my sixteen year old daughter, of whom more anon.) If I was being stereotypical I’d say that most of my fellow romance writers look just like you’d expect them to. And there’s nothing wrong with that, in fact it’s rather reassuring.
It’s always interesting when we start chatting about how we meet other authors, promote, deal with publishers, etc. A number of people aren’t into online stuff at all, which makes me think I’m cutting edge, although it was interesting that it was the youngest author who thought one of the reasons Kindle wouldn’t take off was not being able to read it in the bath. And one of the more mature ladies who said that Kindle was the way forward, once they sorted out the technology and was outlining its many advantages. (So don’t judge a book by its cover…)
The speaker was Jean Fullerton; it’s always fascinating to hear successful authors talk about how they got their break and she was particularly interesting when she spoke about her experiences with the RNA new writers scheme, which had been decidedly curate’s eggy. She is dyslexic, so had taken the decision to have her submissions professionally produced to create a good impression (that rang bells, given the four macaronis’ experiences on the acquisitions team for ‘I Do’).
I sat with a different group of people this time, so had to go through the whole “What do you write?” “Gay romance, Edwardian gay romantic suspense.” Slightly different responses this time – not negative but a distinct hint of people thinking “I really don’t know what to say in reply”. Interesting to have Number two daughter listening in, as she picked up this, too. The pro-Kindle lady was least nonplussed, comparing the genre to Sarah Waters’ work, and the conversation neatly turned to doing historical research for novels. Still, I got invited to another writers’ event (a group who meet at Borders) so I wasn’t persona non grata.
And as for my beloved daughter? Another book you can’t judge by her cover. She creates a rather ditzy impression, so people are left gobsmacked when she confesses to wanting to read medicine. She doesn’t say a lot when she’s with strangers but what she says is very perceptive. When asked if she had any writerly ambitions, quick as a flash she said “Writing’s a bit too much inward looking for me. Authors are in a room somewhere, working on their own. I prefer things where I can interact with other people.”
Which left silence around the table and me with real food for thought.