Time to buy a new frock… (and cross my fingers)

Here at Moyes Towers we are digging out matching shoes and handbags as I write … Silver Bay has been longlisted for the RNA 2008 Romantic Novel Of The Year.
I have been lucky enough to be shortlisted twice before, for Foreign Fruit, which won the prize in 2004 and The Ship of Brides … which didn’t.

The RNA Award is one of the few awards which celebrates “commercial” fiction. Its contenders are books not generally celebrated in the back pages of the broadsheets (although readers of previous blogs will know that Silver Bay is the first of my books to make it into The Times). Equally it is not what the trade calls “category romance”, whose best known proponent would be Mills and Boon – that has its own fiercely fought award, announced on the same day.

And no, it will not be feather boas at dawn. And no I bear no physical resemblance to Mrs B Cartland. Yet.

The RNA Award has grown in profile and importance over the past few years, in part due to good pr, but also due to the inclusion of such luminaries as Andrea Levy (Small Island) and Philippa Gregory, the kind of names that make it a little harder for critics to dismiss romance as lightweight, or as being without literary merit.

As I bleat on, to anyone who will listen, commercial does not have to equate with a lack of quality. Or as Kerry Fowler, books editor for Good Housekeeping and a member of the judges panel says:

‘Russell Brand wouldn’t touch it with a barge pole, you’d never see it in a glossy coverline and late-night programming doesn’t know the meaning of it. But the R-word is at the heart of virtually every good story ever told.

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