Today on my month-long Romantic Novelists Association feature. Each day in February I will have a different author on the blog, talking to me about their books. It is to help celebrate the sixtieth birthday of the RNA and to raise awareness of how it might be a great fit for you if you are an author. I hope you enjoy the features over the next few weeks. Be sure to give the authors a follow on social media and add the books you fancy from the selection of great authors to your own TBR.
❤️Romantic Novelists Association
The Romantic Novelists’ Association was founded in 1960 to both celebrate, and demand respect for, romantic fiction. Founder members included Denise Robins, Barbara Cartland, Elizabeth Goudge, Netta Muskett, Catherine Cookson and Rosamunde Pilcher. The first President of the Association, Denise Robins, noted that although romantic fiction gave great pleasure to many readers, the writers almost felt they had to apologise for what they did. The RNA was going to put a stop to those apologies and, instead, celebrate and promote romantic authorship.
In 1966, an early Vice President of the association, Elizabeth Goudge, commented that ‘As this world becomes increasingly ugly, callous and materialistic it needs to be reminded that the old fairy stories are rooted in truth, that imagination is of value, that happy endings do, in fact, occur, and that the blue spring mist that makes and ugly street look beautiful is just as real a thing as the street itself.’
Today, the RNA continues to support and champion the authorship of romantic fiction that shows the value of imagination and the possibility of a happy ending and also celebrates the broader spectrum of romantic fiction that explores the more challenging aspects of relationships and human experience.
❤️Ruth Long / Jessica Thorne
Jessica Thorne saw Star Wars at an impressionable age and life was never the same. She’s loved fantasy, romance and science fiction ever since and spends her time looking for adventure – in the pages of her books.
Sometimes she is Ruth Frances Long and won the European Science Fiction Society Spirit of Dedication Award for Best Author of Children’s Science Fiction and Fantasy, 2015.
The room is small and dark. Row upon row of jars line the shelves, each one sealed with blood-red wax. The seal’s mark is a twisted circle of briar with gleaming, gold-tipped thorns. And in each jar a flicker of forbidden magic dances… beautiful, but deadly.
Sold to the Crown in the aftermath of the Last Great War, Grace Marchant has never known her parents. Now, she trains as an elite soldier tracking down mageborn – those born with an ancient and long-outlawed magic – and destroying them if they don’t surrender their power to the Crown.
The mageborn who submit are collared, then handed over to the King’s cousin and heir: the elusive Bastien Larelwynn, Lord of Thorns, locked away in his shadowy workshop deep inside the castle. What becomes of them is hard to say – the Lord of Thorns keeps his secrets close.
Grace has always fought the voice inside her that questions whether the law is truly just, but when her closest friend is next on Bastien’s list, Grace’s loyalties are tested to the limit. Confronting Bastien – searching his strangely compelling obsidian-black eyes for answers – Grace is shocked to feel herself begin to change, to show the first signs of the wild magic she so fears.
Only the Lord of Thorns has the power to save her and the rest of the mageborn – if he doesn’t destroy them all first…
Can you tell us a little about your publishing journey, please?
I always wanted to be a writer for a long as I can remember. I was first published by Samhain publishing in the US, writing fantasy romance, and then by Dial, a Penguin Imprint for my YA title The Treachery of Beautiful Things. The Dubh Linn series (A Crack in Everything, A Hollow in the Hills and A Darkness at the End) drew on Irish folklore set in modern day Dublin and the first volume won the European Science Fiction Society Spirit of Dedication Award for Best Author of Children’s Science Fiction and Fantasy, 2015. I published The Queeen’s Wing and The Stone’s Heart with Bookouture in 2018 and 2019. My latest book, Mageborn, is a return to the high fantasy romance I love so well. It’s out on the 18th February.
Can you tell us how you became involved with the Romantic Novelists Association and what it means for you to be part of it?
I joined the RNA in 2010 and from the first conference I attended (Greenwich, the 50th anniversary) found a wonderful group of supportive, creative and pragmatic writers who are always ready to help. I founded the Irish Chapter of the RNA and we meet a few times a year, and have a facebook group. My dearest writing friends, the Naughty Kitchen, are all members of the RNA and I chat with them every day online. We had a wonderful writing retreat las year. One of the things I value most about the RNA is the sense of creativity which marries with practical business knowledge.
What was the inspiration behind your latest release?
I have always loved fantasy romance. With Mageborn I really felt I was going back to my roots. I wanted to write an epic fantasy but with a feminist heroine and a less romantic approach to royalty and chosen ones. My first thought was what if magic could be stolen, and the world grew from there.
Do you find it hard to let your characters go when you finish writing the book?
It depends on the characters. If they are done telling their story I have no problem at all. But, as the old horror film says, sometimes they come back.
What was your favourite read of 2019?
Jeevani Charika’s A Convenient Marriage
Do you read other romance authors and who would you recommend?
I read all kinds of romance and love a love story. I’d recommend Kate Johnson, Janet Gover, Jeevani Charika/Rhoda Baxter, Catherine Lloyd, Kate Pearce. While not romance per se, I’d also recommend Becky Chambers, N. K. Jemisin, C.E. Murphy and Sarah Rees Brennan
Was there a point in your life that a book helped you get through, if so which one?
Ash by Mary Gentle – it remains one of my favorite books of all time. Books help me all the time though. They are my refuge and escape when I need one, my inspiration and always a pleasure.
Is there anyone that you would like to mention and thank for their support of your writing?
All my Naughty Kitchen Pals
If you had the power to give everyone in the world one book, what would it be and why?
Good Omens by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman. I think it’s perfect in every way.
What are you working on now?
The sequel to Mageborn, Nightborn.
Lastly, do you have any questions for your readers?
Who is your favourite heroine and why?
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Thank you to Ruth for taking part in my special feature.
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