I think I have finally got over most of the jet lag so now I can report a bit more from the RT Booklovers Convention. I think my overall impression was – FUN! There was so much going on each day that it was almost impossible to take it all in, but I’ve got lots of photos to remind me and I thought I’d share some of them with you. Here goes:-
First of all, we were there to spread the word about our books and I very much enjoyed the various signings where I got to talk to the wonderful American readers. They are so enthusiastic about romance, it was a joy to meet them!
The first thing people say when you mention the RT convention is usually – cover models! And yes, there were some but I was mostly impressed by their hair. (The tights, not so much!)
The parties were great fun, starting with The Red Slipper Lounge – of course I had to wear red shoes! And the chocolate fountain was to die for!
Then there was the Ball – we all got to wear our (fake) tiaras and felt like princesses!
And best of all – the Freaky Friday Party! The table decorations were fantastic and we were glad we’d dressed to suit the occasion.
On the Saturday we all took part in the Giant Book Fair – and giant it certainly was! Something like 350 authors all signing books in one place, awesome.
And then it was almost time to go home, but not before I’d met some more lovely authors and attended the Harlequin Disco Party with the other ChocLiteers.
All in all, a fantastic week!
I can’t believe I’m finally here at the RT Booklovers’ Convention in Kansas City! I’m having a wonderful time and meeting so many lovely people – it’s all a bit overwhelming but in a good way!
More photos to come!
Had a great time at the London Book Fair this week! Loved the “buzz”, loved meeting lots of fellow authors and loved chatting to people visiting the Choc Lit stand! And of course, trying out the amazing chocolates supplied by House of Dorchester … (I only had a few, honest!)
I also really enjoyed wandering around looking at all the beautiful book covers on display – plus the weird and wonderful ones Fellow ChocLiteers Sue Moorcroft, Henriette Gyland and I checked out all the stands and Sue and I had our photo taken with a lady pirate. Haven’t seen the result yet though – watch this space!
Thank you for inviting me to be a guest on your blog, Christina. I’m delighted to be here. You’ve asked me some wide-ranging questions; I hope I’ve done them justice!
You describe your novel as an “alternate history thriller” – can you tell us a bit more about that, as it’s not a concept I was familiar with?
Alternate history is based on the idea of “what if”? What if King Harold had won the Battle of Hastings in 1066? Or if Julius Caesar had taken notice of the warning that assassins wanted to murder him on the Ides of March? Sometimes, it can be on the personal level such as in the film Sliding Doors, when the train door shuts and Gwyneth Paltrow’s character splits into two; one gets into the train, the other is left on the platform.
True alternate history stories contain three things: a point of divergence when the alternate timeline split from our own timeline; some description of how that world looks and works; and a logical sequence of how things have changed since the split.
In my book, four hundred Romans trekking north and founding a small colony in the late fourth century changed the whole world: the British didn’t leave North America until 1865, Europe is split into small federated countries. The thriller story – kidnap, death threats, mystery plus romance – takes place against this background.
Does your novel feature any ancient treasures? (I’m very partial to books about those, I have to confess
Haha! Not as such. Their values and way of life is their treasure. But who knows in a later book in the series …
When I was young, I adored Simon Templar ‘The Saint’ by Leslie Charteris. Although he did some morally dubious things, he was one of the good guys and an incurable romantic (I was also reading a lot of Georgette Heyer at the same time which may explain why I went around in a day-dream when younger!).
I think Lee Child, Robert Harris and William Boyd are current favourites for their sheer, sparse style and intelligent plotting. William Boyd’s espionage thriller, Restless, with two strong female leads, is one of the best books I have read. Wandering into historical crime, one of my favourites is Lindsey Davis’ cynical, but good-hearted Roman detective, Falco. I loved Kate Johnson’s The Untied Kingdom, both for its alternate history flavour and the jolly adventure. Although I loved the complexity of Sebastian Faulks’ Charlotte Gray my favourite crime and thriller female character is Eve Dallas written by J D Robb (Nora Roberts).
I understand that you have created a new country/state (well, new world really!) – how difficult was that?
Yes, Roma Nova. It’s huge fun, but it takes a lot of research. Setting a story in the past is a challenge – you know this yourself! And the same is true if your story takes place in another country. But if you invent the country and have to meld it into history that the reader already knows, then your task is doubled. Unless you are writing post-apocalyptic, which is too fantastic for me, you have to make the geography and climate similar to the region where your imagined country lies. I’ll make a confession: I ‘borrowed’ Slovenia as the model. And one of the big things you can’t neglect is the social, economic and political development; this sounds dry, but every living person is a product of their local conditions. Their experience of living in a place and struggle to make sense of it is expressed through their culture.
Do you think it’s possible that any such secret civilisations could exist, hidden away somewhere in the corner of the Earth?
With Google Maps, spy satellites and social media? Sadly, probably not, but it’s a lovely romantic thought. If you set a story before 1939, you could probably get away with it. But now, I think you have to alternate time as I did, if you want to play with that idea.
What pivotal moments in history really interest you and is there one in particular where you wish a different choice had been made, thereby changing the course of things to come?
Oh, what a gift of a question! Thank you. Any historian will give you a full list, but my personal one is when Emperor Julian the Apostate was killed in AD 363 at the Battle of Samarra. He was the last non-Christian ruler of the Roman Empire and wanted to bring the Empire back to its ancient Roman values to save it from dissolution.
His laws tended to target wealthy and educated Christians. Julian’s aim was not to destroy Christianity but to drive the religion out of the governing classes of the empire. He was well-educated, a clever and successful military commander, an able administrator and a survivor of lethal imperial family politics. He was only 31 when he died. You could draw a parallel with the death of JFK in 1963. Would that clever and talented leader have gone on to great things or would his own brilliance have been his downfall? If Julian had lived, would he have rolled back Christianity? A big “what if”!
You are obviously very fond of the Romans – why them in particular?
Strange, isn’t it, when they weren’t exactly a feminist bunch? Rome was founded in 753BC by riff-raff led, according to the legend, by Romulus and Remus and ended in the west in AD476. That’s an impressive 1229 years, seven hundred years of which Rome was the most politically important, richest, and largest city in the Western world. I don’t want to copy the John Cleese speech in The Life of Brian “What have the Romans ever done for us?” so I won’t go on about baths, transport, trade, architecture, etc.
Throughout kingdom, republic, principate and dominate empire they were a regulated and military society. They aspired to the highest values of service to the state and civic virtue. Although ideal Roman family life included the lowest status members of society, such slaves were the most fortunate. Repugnant to us now, all ancient, medieval and early modern societies and some even in the 20th century, used slavery as an economic force.
Corruption was rife in most periods, but the Romans developed systems of law, politics and taxation as well as the principle of the rule of law and for over two hundred years established the Pax Romana. Literary arts, learning, technology, engineering and the decorative arts flourished. But the impressive thing is the complexity of their civil and economic as well as military life, multiculturalism and scientific engineering.
Their attitude to women was legally repressive, but towards the later period, it changed considerable with much more freedom to act, trade and own property. Divorce was easy, but adultery could be fatal. And there are many accounts of women owning and running businesses of all types. As you know, history is not all it seems to be in the public perception.
Are you good at Latin and did you enjoy learning it at school?
Am I going to take a Roman attitude and say yes, I was top most of the time, or a British one and say, well, actually, I wasn’t too bad at it? I loved it, especially the rude and sexually explicit poems of Catullus…
Thank you so much for answering my questions, Alison – it all sounds absolutely fascinating and I can’t wait to read Inceptio!
Blurb for INCEPTIO:-
New York – present day alternate reality. Karen Brown, angry and frightened after surviving a kidnap attempt, has a harsh choice – being eliminated by government enforcer Jeffery Renschman or fleeing to the mysterious Roma Nova, her dead mother’s homeland in Europe.
Founded sixteen centuries ago by Roman exiles and ruled by women, Roma Nova gives Karen safety and a ready-made family. But a shocking discovery about her new lover, the fascinating but arrogant special forces officer Conrad Tellus who rescued her in America, isolates her.
Renschman reaches into her new home and nearly kills her. Recovering, she is desperate to find out why he is hunting her so viciously. Unable to reply on anybody else, she undergoes intensive training, develops fighting skills and becomes an undercover cop. But crazy with bitterness at his past failures, Renschman sets a trap for her, knowing she has no choice but to spring it…
I had a wonderful time at the RoNA Awards event on Tuesday evening, even though The Silent Touch of Shadows didn’t win its category. The lovely Charlotte Betts won Best Historical Romantic Novel with The Apothecary’s Daughter – well deserved as it’s a fabulous book!
Other winners were Katie Fforde (Best Contemporary), Jenny Colgan (Best Rom Com), Rowan Coleman (Best Epic), Victoria Lamb (Best YA) and Sarah Mallory (RoNA Rose Award) – huge congratulations to all of them! For lots of photos, have a look at the RNA website and blog.
I’ve been laid low with flu, so won’t post a long report, but here are a couple of more photos from the event!
If you have visited the Choc Lit Author’s Corner recently, some of you may have noticed that the banner at the top has changed to show some of the lovely new covers for Choc Lit books coming out this year. One of them is mine so I thought I’d do a proper ‘cover reveal’ today to show it in all its glory. Here it is, the cover for New England Rocks!
New England Rocks is a completely new departure for me – the first in a series of Young Adult contemporary stories set in, yes, you guessed it, New England, USA. I wanted a change from writing historicals with all the research that entails, so I decided to have a go at the YA genre instead and this is the result. I have to admit I had a lot of fun writing this as it took me down memory lane to my own teenage years. I hope readers will enjoy it as well!
Here is the blurb:-
First impressions, how wrong can you get?
When Rain Mackenzie is expelled from her British boarding school, she can’t believe her bad luck. Not only is she forced to move to New England, USA, she’s also sent to the local high school as a punishment.
Rain makes it her mission to dislike everything about Northbrooke High, but what she doesn’t bank on is meeting Jesse Devlin …
Not only is Jesse the hottest guy Rain’s ever seen, he also plays guitar in an awesome rock band.
There’s just one small problem … Jesse already has a girlfriend, little miss perfect Amber Lawrence, who looks set to cause trouble as Rain and Jesse get closer.
But, what does any of it matter? New England sucks anyway, and Rain doesn’t plan on sticking around …
Today is the official publication day for The Gilded Fan, the sequel to The Scarlet Kimono (although it can be read as a stand-alone) and I’ve just received this gorgeous bouquet! Huge thanks to the lovely Choc Lit team for that and for all their hard work on The Gilded Fan!
Although there is nothing more wonderful – and terrifying! – than seeing your ‘baby’ go out into the world, I’m so pleased that this story has now been published. It’s one of those that has gone through numerous rewrites, but I hope it has emerged stronger for it and that readers will like it.
Here is the blurb:-
How do you start a new life, leaving behind all you love?
It’s 1641, and when Midori Kumashiro, the orphaned daughter of a warlord, is told she has to leave Japan or die, she has no choice but to flee to England. Midori is trained in the arts of war, but is that enough to help her survive a journey, with a lecherous crew and an attractive captain she doesn’t trust?
Having come to Nagasaki to trade, the last thing Captain Nico Noordholt wants is a female passenger, especially a beautiful one. How can he protect her from his crew when he can’t keep his own eyes off her?
During their journey, Nico and Midori form a tentative bond, but they both have secrets that can change everything. When they arrive in England, a civil war is brewing, and only by standing together can they hope to survive …
If you’d like to help me celebrate, have a piece of chocolate (or several) – I am!
Today the Romantic Novelists’ Association released the shortlists for this years’ RoNAs (Romantic Novel Awards) and I was absolutely delighted to find The Silent Touch of Shadows nominated in the Historical category!
The complete lists can be found here and the winners of all the categories will be announced at an awards event on 26th February, which is to be held at the RAF Club in Piccadilly. The prizes will be presented by Richard & Judy!
A lot of my RNA friends were also nominated – congratulations to them all! I’m especially thrilled to find my fellow ChocLiteer Sue Moorcroft in the Contemporary category with her novel Dream a Little Dream, my fellow “Heroine Addict” Susanna Kearsley with The Rose Garden up against me in the Historical category and Victoria Connelly nominated in the Rom Com category with The Runaway Actress.
I’m very much looking forward to the awards event!
Gill Stewart (http://novelpointsofview.blogspot.co.uk/) has very kindly nominated me for the above award – many thanks, Gill! Not sure I deserve it as I don’t post on here as often as I should, but I will do my best to follow the rules. This means I need to tell you seven things about myself and then nominate some fellow bloggers to pass this on to.
So here are the seven random facts about me (which you may or may not know already):-
1 – My first name is really Pia-Christina with a hyphen, the way they write it in Italy. I’ve always had to struggle to get that hyphen included!
2 – I love dogs (I think you’ve probably gathered that) but if I had to have a cat, I would choose a Maine Coon, preferably a silver coloured one.
3 – I refuse to watch sad films or read sad books.
4 – I’ve travelled a lot even though I don’t actually like travelling much!
5 – I love ice hockey, but hate doing sports myself (am the ultimate couch potato).
6 – I’d like to open a rescue centre for mistreated animals – one day when I have the time!
7 – I hate going to the hairdresser more than I hate going to the dentist!