Linda Gillard at the RNA Awards breakfast last week to receive her award

Linda Gillard at the RNA Awards breakfast last week to receive her award

Posted by in Award News, Fiction

Linda Gillard's Star Gazing (Piatkus) won the award for the most romantic novel of the last 50 years in a poll by the Romantic Novelists Association. The author beat the two other shortlisted novels, Barbara Taylor Bradford's A Woman of Substance (HarperCollins) and Trisha Ashley's Every Woman for Herself (Avon), in a poll organised by Woman's Weekly. The awards were presented at a champagne breakfast at London's New Cavendish Club last week.  Here Linda explains how she almost didn't make it….

So there I was, standing on the quayside, staring at the distant mainland, wondering if I knew anyone with a boat. And nerves of steel… Pondering the uncertainties of island life, I texted the organiser of Woman’s Weekly’s Favourite Romantic Novel 1960-2010, for which my novel Star Gazing was short-listed, telling them there I might not make it to the champagne breakfast for short-listed authors as the last two ferries from the Isle of Arran had been cancelled due to bad weather. As it was, I’d miss my London train connection and would have to fly now – if I ever got off the island.

After a tense couple of hours, the skies cleared, the wind dropped and Calmac declared that the MV Caledonian Isles would depart. Twelve hours later (the joys of flying Easyjet!) I checked in to the New Cavendish Club in London, unpacked and started to worry that my outfit was the wrong colour. (Or was it my hair that was the wrong colour?…)

The following morning I met Trisha Ashley, fellow short-listee (Every Woman For Herself). Barbara Taylor Bradford was also short-listed with A Woman of Substance, but she lives in New York and wasn’t attending.

So then it was mingling time… I was handed a glass of champagne but I can't say I tasted it. This is how nervous I was: when they were offered, I said “No” to a tray of Danish pastries. But everyone liked the colour of my Oska top and said it suited me. (Memo to self: fix hair colour.)

I introduced myself to the Woman’s Weekly reader who’d won a trip to London. She said she’d read all three short-listed books, but had actually voted for Victoria Hislop's THE ISLAND. Moving swiftly on, I gave her a signed copy of STAR GAZING, just to show there were no hard feelings.

Announcement time… OhGodOhGod… And the winner is… STAR GAZING!

Nooooooooooo!

But yesssss!

A beaming Katie Fforde, Chair of the Romantic Novelists’ Association, presented me with the star-shaped crystal trophy and looked on while I improvised an incoherent speech, short on wit and long on gratitude. Applause, flash bulbs, refills… Dizzy with happiness and champagne, possessed of a sudden, ravening hunger, I looked round for that magnificent selection of Danish pastries. Gone. Only crumbs left to bear witness to their brief existence.

Clutching my empty glass and my star trophy, I concluded that you can’t win them all.

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