Friday, 16 July 2010

Romantic Novelist's 50th Anniversary Conference, Greenwich, London.

From the X Factor to Best Evidence to how best to incorporate social media into a writer's busy life, this conference had everything and more.
And the it was the more that made it stand out for me as a first time visitor or RNA conference virgin.
I can honestly say that I can't think of any other conference where I have been so warmly welcomed by colleagues in such a genuine spirit of sharing knowledge and generally being helpful, so very very friendly and supportive of one another.
The conference kicked off for me with the wonderful Jean Fullerton's trip to the Police Museum on the banks of the Thames at Wapping. Jean was a wonderful hostess at her 'local' 'The Town of Ramsgate' pub, which I had some difficulty in locating, in fact, I have to confess to ending up on the wrong side of Tower Bridge at one point, but boy was it worth the walk! One of the pivotal scenes from Jean's book 'A Glimpse of Happiness' takes place in this pub so for me it was great to imagine that fight taking place all those years ago.
I had feared that I might struggle at this event with not being personally acquainted with any of the attendees; but within moments of arrival, Juliet Archer and her friend, children's author Carol Hedges introduced themselves to me and we were soon chatting away like old friends. Juliet had recently visited Cannon Hall near Barnsley to give a talk so we soon found common ground.
The lunch was great and afterwards the talk at the police museum was even more fun.
We were shown round by retired policeman Joz Johnson who explained the history of both the river police and the museum since 1793. Some of the interesting artefacts on display there included the actual flag from the ill fated Princess Alice. Joz was a wonderful colourful personality, and a former bodyguard to the late Princess Margaret. We soon learned that we were in exalted company as he has previously given tours to not only the late Queen Mother but also the head of the CIA and his wife. So well done and thanks to Jean for setting that exciting prelude up.
On arrival at Greenwich university I was overjoyed to find I'd been placed with my Yorkshire friends and also some new ones who as it turned out, in combination, formed a sparkling group of people who all bonded immediately. We had some great fun and scarcely noticed the fact that we had only 3 mugs between 8 of us!
It's hard to pick out the highlights because there were so many. On the industry day what was said about the supermarkets and their attitude to books and authors was a real eye opener to me. Someone suggested we ought to have one of their buyers in for their take on this at a future event.
I absolutely adored all the social occasions which is interesting because I'm hardly a social butterly; perhaps my favourite being the barbeque when Katie Fforde's presentation of the Elizabeth Goudge prize became so emotional and memorable for all present.
I loved all the sessions I attended but the most useful for me were probably Kate Hardy's on planning (as I probably procrastinate too much)along with Lucy Inglis' on Trades for 18th Century Women and Stephen Wade's on Crime writing. The former certainly debunked a few myths and I can recommend Lucy's Georgian London blog if you don't already follow it.
What else can I say- roll on next year!