Books, smells, castles and dead kings

A couple of weeks ago I attended the 2017 conference of the Romantic Novelists’ Association which was held at Harper Adams University, originally an agricultural college. The first thing you realise as you arrive by taxi is that there are pigs somewhere near! The Resident Engineer comes from farming folk and I loved everything about Harper Adams, including the fact that my sinuses have never been so thoroughly healthily scoured! The food – grown and raised on the farm – was absolutely delicious.

We weren’t there just to eat however and the talks I attended were varied and interesting, from a discussion on where the publishing industry is heading, to writing a screenplay (illustrated with shots of David Tennant in Broadchurch – not a hardship, that), to several talks on how to cope with Social Media. Something I’m pretty useless at and Must Try Harder. (Pic above, by John Jackson, shows the opening talk with me, bottom right, making notes.) And a photo of David Tennant – and why not?

A highlight was meeting up with fellow authors from my new publisher, Crooked Cat Books. Here: John Jackson, Sue Barnard, me looking scruffy, and Lynn Forth. (Another of John’s photos)The last talk, on the Sunday afternoon, was me talking about changing from writing romantic comedy to writing cosy mysteries. The audience laughed in the right places, made notes, and clapped at the end – result! and that was it for another conference. Always good fun and well worth attending.

The Resident Engineer picked me up and we set off for Ludlow which is where we saw the castle in the title of this post:And on the way home we dropped in to say hello to my favourite dead king of all – and here he is:

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Writing and talking, what else?

First of all – the book. ‘The House at Ladywell’ now has a date, Tuesday, 14th November – which is when Crooked Cat Books will publish it simultaneously as an ebook and a paperback. This really, really exciting! It’s a contemporary romantic novel with historical interludes, quite a change for me! Here’s a taster…

‘A hare carved in stone and the scent of flowers in a house full of echoes – can Freya’s inheritance help her leave the past behind


And no, the house in the photo has nothing to do with my fictitious house apart from being a Tudor house in Hampshire (this one’s a pub that’s being revamped). My ‘real’ Tudor house is, like my characters, a patchwork of reality and fiction. And set in a different version of Romsey! Below is the Old Manor House in Romsey which is now a restaurant but which is about the right age for ‘my’ house.

Details of the cover and more info about the book and – most important of all – how to buy it! will be forthcoming in the early autumn. There are several running themes in this book: rowan trees, sacred springs, the scent of flowers, and hares – which have always fascinated me and which I paint occasionally. Here’s one I did earlier!

Secondly – the talk. Sunday, 16th July at the Romantic Novelists’ Association 2017 Conference at Harper Adams University, Telford, Shropshire.

The talk – From Kissing to Killing – is about changing over from writing romantic novels to writing murder mysteries and this is what the programme says about me! ‘Why do romantic novelists so often shine at writing mysteries? Having made the leap (more of a sidle) herself, Nicola Slade discusses what a cosy mystery actually is, some statistics about real-life murders and examples of fictional ones, and she also talks about other romantic novelists who’ve gone over to the dark side…’          One very well-known crime writer also wrote romantic novels under the name of Mary Westmacott – and if it’s good enough for Agatha, it’s certainly good enough for me!