Showing posts with label Kay Burley. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Kay Burley. Show all posts

Friday, 18 May 2012

Jane Lovering wins Romantic Novel of the Year award

Glamour, champagne, pink balloons and sky-high heels – all the hallmarks of a fabulous Romantic Novelists’ Association party were firmly in evidence last night.

I was lucky enough to be invited to the RNA’s summer bash in London, where Sky News presenter Kay Burley was on hand to present the prestigious Romantic Novel of the Year award.

Kay, whose second book, Betrayal, is out next week, wore a chic, sleeveless dress and confessed that she was still learning her craft as a novelist. “Romance is so difficult to write,” she said, “especially if you have a teenage son who is embarrassed at everything you do.” She added that romantic fiction is one of the biggest-selling genres today and the minute she got home she was going to get all five shortlisted romantic novels on her Kindle. “It’s no surprise my name isn’t on the shortlist,” she quipped. “But there’s always next year.”

Kay whizzed through the five contenders – Christina Courtenay, Katie Fforde, Caroline Green, Jane Lovering and Rosie Thomas - at top speed and then declared the winner. It was debut author Jane Lovering, for Please Don’t Stop the Music. I reviewed Jane’s novel a week or so ago and it’s a pacy, snappily-written novel that boasts some great laugh-out-loud moments and some dark moments too. I warmed to Jane immediately when she scooped RNA’s romantic comedy novel prize a couple of months back and declared: “It’s taken me 25 years of writing to publish a book. If I can do it, anybody can. So go for it, girls!”

But no one looked more stunned than Jane (above) last night when she was announced as the Romantic Novel of the Year winner and Kay Burley presented her with her prize – a large glass trophy.

“Oh my God,” said Jane shakily, her bright red hair gleaming under the lights. “Don’t give me a big glass bowl. Me and a big glass bowl aren’t a good idea. If anyone had told me ten years ago in the middle of single parenthood and small children that I was going to win this award I would have wet myself. Quite frankly I still might!’”

Last night was a double celebration for Jane, a mother of five who works part-time as a science technician at a North Yorkshire secondary school. It was her daughter’s 16th birthday the same day and she was there to see her mum’s fantastic win. She must have been SO proud…

PS. As well as the Romantic Novel of the Year award, the party also saw the presentation of the RNA’s annual prize for the best in new writing. This year’s Joan Hessayon New Writers’ Scheme Award went to Evonne Wareham for Never Coming Home.  

Please Don’t Stop the Music by Jane Lovering (Choc Lit, £7.99)
Never Coming Home by Evonne Wareham (Choc Lit, £7.99)

Saturday, 1 October 2011

Kay Burley and Bella Pollen at the Henley Literary Festival

I bet the organisers of the Henley Literary Festival could scarcely believe their luck. Of all the weeks to host their five-day event, they’d chosen the glorious last days of summer, when the sun shone, temperatures soared and we all bared our legs again.

Sitting on the terrace at Bix Manor, a pretty country hotel two miles up the road from Henley (above), everything seemed right with the world. I sipped afternoon tea, gazed out across the fields and listened to a journalist I vaguely recognised relating why she’d written a piece about her sex life in one of the morning papers.

I’d booked a ticket to hear Sky TV presenter Kay Burley and writer Bella Pollen discuss their new books. They’re both highly successful in their fields but I was mystified as to why they’d been teamed up. Burley’s first novel is a bonkbuster about a lothario prime minister and the women in his life, while The Summer of the Bear, Pollen’s latest, is set in the Outer Hebrides and tells of three siblings struggling to cope with the loss of their father. The women’s totally different styles were evident by the outfits they’d chosen - Burley wearing a sleeveless silk dress and heels, Pollen clad in jeans and Converse.

But despite the incongruity, it worked a treat. Burley has spent years interviewing the best known politicians and showbiz names in the world on live TV, yet was surprisingly nervous. She admitted that her hands were shaking and that she’s “a novice on the literary circuit.” Not only that, when it came to reading an excerpt from her book, First Ladies, she suddenly panicked that she’d left her glasses outside. Pollen immediately leaned over to offer hers – and Burley’s face lit up with gratitude. In a way the gesture seemed to bond them and after that the event whizzed by in a flash (brilliantly chaired by journalist Philippa Kennedy).

Burley reckoned that her thirty-year TV career was down to “ninety per cent hard work and ten per cent luck.” A single mum, she revealed that her teenage son was starting university that very day – he’s studying politics at the LSE – and that she’d often had to drop everything at the last minute to rush off on stories. She decided to write her novel after being approached to do her autobiography and said she’s “in advanced discussions with Hollywood” about a movie of First Ladies. She's already delivered her second novel, Betrayal, to her publisher. In fact she wrote much of it in the back of a van on the front line in Libya (how impressive is that?) and it’s due out in 2012.

I hadn’t read First Ladies before the talk so when I got home I downloaded it. Hmmm. I don’t want to be mean but it’s not a masterpiece. The plot seems old-hat and the prose surprisingly wooden. During the talk, Burley had talked movingly about her beloved late parents falling in love when they both worked in a cardboard box factory and her “humble beginnings” in Wigan. If she could write a novel based on all that, then I reckon she’d be on to a winner.
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