I went out last week. I know. Rare occurrence, getting away to the Big Smoke. And the reason I went? It was the RNA's Summer Party. Now I have banged on boringly here often enough about how much I love the RNA (Romantic Novelist's Association in case you don't know). Not only is it THE most supportive writing group I belong to, its members are warm, funny, clever, brilliant and I have enjoyed every RNA event I've ever attended. From my very first summer party, which I dragged myself up to, heavily pregnant with no3. That time I knew one person & felt pretty nervous entering a room where clearly everyone knew everyone else. But by the end of the evening thanks to the warmth and friendliness of the people I met, including the amazingly kind Katie Fforde, (already a major seller, taking time out to be nice to a newbie wannabe) I felt really at home. Since then I've got to know most of my RNA chums online, meeting them in the flesh on the all too rare occasions when I can get to a function, and I have a blast every time I do.
So, I set off on Wednesday expecting to: meet friends new and old (check); have a great time (check); network (uncheck, was too busy yacking); have scintillating & sparkling conversations (check); be dazzled by the glamour on display (check); and see the best shoe collection in London (double check).
As expected, I had a really fun night and though I was too busy to take any pics, you can see the full glamour on display(complete with a few shoes) http://romanticnovelistsassociationblog.blogspot.com/2011/05/rna-summer-party.html
So it was some disappointment that I read this ridiculous article in the Daily Mail http://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-1389272/The-Blue-Rinse-Bodice-Rippers-In-twin-sets-pearls-meet-ladies-Britains-steamiest-novels.html
OK it's the Daily Mail. We all know what to expect, right? But talk about giving a wrong picture of the event. I didn't spot a single twinset or blue rinse - (though Katie Fforde our outgoing chairman and incoming President has admitted to wearing pearls) - and I find the whole thing so bleedin' patronising towards our older members, many of whom could win a glamorous granny contest hands down. Not only that, she's missed the point about the RNA, which is a hugely broad church - there are people writing chick lit, sagas, historical, M&B - you name it the RNA probably produces it. The old fashioned image of Barbara Cartland dictating steamy scenes to her adoring secretary (hilariously parodied by Matt Lucas in Little Britain) is so far removed from the truth as to be laughable.
The RNA isn't full of batty old ladies writing rude stories, it encompasses women from their twenties, up to their eighties, who write stories about human relationships in all their forms, it provides pleasure to millions of readers and it is very tiresome of the Daily Mail and their ilk to still sneer at us, when frankly romantic fiction is selling in its droves at a time of considerable economic hardship. I have never understood why romantic fiction is sneered at when romantic films are not (the majority of them are written by women, anyone?), but such is sadly the case. But it would be nice for once, if a journalist, who was invited to our party could have for once put away her preconceived ideas and actually looked and listened to the people who were there.
Personally I think she travelled to another dimension where Barbara Cartland has cloned herself and has us all chained to our desks writing books in her honour. She certainly didn't attend the fabulous party I went to. Which is a pity, as she might have learnt something if she had.