Hello there everyone,
If you’ve been away, or in a chocolate coma from Easter or coloured up to the eyeballs with Holi or just plain haven’t had a chance to take our Build Your Own Hero & Heroine quizzes – I strongly recommend you forget about reading this and spring back to the last few posts to take them (not that I’m obsessive or anything – but who doesn’t love to craft perfection?)
If you have taken them and want to dive back to the early days of March, I am going to relive the Worst Speech I Ever Gave for you when I had the absolute privilege and completely unexpected honour of winning the UK’s Romance Novelist’s Association’s RoNA Rose Award for Best Category Novel.
Our very own (and highly deserving) Scarlet Wilson was also nominated and as a huge fan of her books it had completely not even occurred to me that I would win. (She has – by the way – just been nominated for TWO RITAS – yahoo!!!!). We were taken to lunch by the editorial team along with another nominee from the Historical team which was jolly good. I hadn’t quite managed to check into the hotel yet (read: over-priced disaster at the hairdressers that I ended up swooping away into the one hair style I can manage) so we all ended up in the marbley confines of the luncheon venue’s Ladies Room while I did a swift change and then, heels on, we tottered our way to the venue. Scarlet is a magician and can magic up pink bubbles anywhere. Which she promptly did after a mercifully quick nominee photo session. I really didn’t know anyone so just grinned a lot. And listened. There were so many authors I had heard of, but had never met so that was great. And then…the awards presentation.
The RoNA Rose was the penultimate prize awarded and I was so busy clapping for everyone, when they called out the winner – ME! – my face went through one of those weird incomprehension numbers where at first you look not very clever and then you look a bit slack-jawed and then you realise you need to stand up and go get the award…So I picked a route via Scarlet so I could hug her and then it turned out that wasn’t a good route because of chair placements so I didn’t manage the hug and I had to double back (I still wasn’t looking terribly clever) and FINALLY made it up on the stage. There was a bit of posing with Fern Britton (who was lovely, kind and steered me in the right direction “Look over here…at the cameras, Annie….yes, that’s it Annie. Now look over here…”) You get the idea. I was utterly flabbergasted.
Then came the speech part. Everyone who’d won an award prior to me had said something akin to, “I really didn’t expect this.” I think by what followed after my reiteration of that point made it very clear. Now…by way of explanation…when I get really, really happy…my teeth launch forward into a sort of rabbity overbite thing. So, in order to prove to everyone I really, really didn’t expect it I said, “Look! You get to see my happy buckteeth!”
Thankfully I remembered the names of my editors (they were the only names I’d remembered. I have a vague notion that I’d idly promised I’d thank my husband for everything I’ve ever achieved…that flew straight out the window). I forgot to give a huge shout out to Medicals for just being the BEST category line in the universe. I forgot to thank Sheila Hodgson the amazing woman/editor who oversees the Medical Romance Team. I forgot it all. Instead I said, ‘Thanks, Charlotte [my editor] for making me rewrite the end. It sure was AWFUL THE FIRST TIME ROUND!”
I vaguely remember, at that point, deciding it would be a good idea to put a hook round myself and yank the disaster in process off the stage. So I did. The rest of the night passed in a blur or grinning inanely (those are my editors with me – the gorgeous Megan on the left and the beautiful Charlotte on the right). Scarlet steered me towards some gratefully received pizza after the whole glamorous do was over…then I couldn’t sleep and then I met up with our very own Annie Claydon at the Victoria and Albert Museum where we brought the RoNA Rose round and posed with super sexy marble statues to find our next inspiration for heroes! Then, finally wearied…I headed back to the countryside where I live…but not before holding up my new award in front of the Harlequin/Mills & Boon offices as I left London. It was an amazing, amazing day and I just want to thank all of you readers for being sublime and all of the other medical writers for inspiring me to write for this great line in the first place. xoxo Annie O’