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Sunday, 22 June 2014

Worcester Literary Festival - Romantic Novelist's Panel

Yesterday I spent a great afternoon in Worcester town centre at the Worcester Literary Festival. The festival takes place over 9 days (20-29 June) and starts with the Poet Laureate Competition and Young Writers’ Awards. The festival this year has the theme of the World War in celebration of the centenary.  

I first visited the Authors fayre which was held in the beautiful Guildhall where local authors were promoting their books. I met Sheryl Browne and had a great chat - I will be reviewing two of her titles very soon on this blog.

Photograph taken by Linda Bromyard
The Romantic Novelist's Panel was held in the lovely St Swithun’s Institute. The panel was chaired by Alison May, a local author, who has written a novella and short stories. Christina Courtenay, Liz Harris and Sue Moorcroft were on the panel, all of whom have released a number of books, novella's and short stories and are all published by Choc Lit. It was a fun filled session with Alison May leading her fellow authors through a number of pre-planned questions before taking questions from the audience. This was filled with concern and expectation as the microphone was passed up and down the line, getting tangled and threatening to strangle Sue Moorcroft or Liz Harris, before being switched off and discarded!  Questions included how the author's got their first publishing deals, planned their books, writing routines, editing queries and the importance of reviews. 

The chat was informal and interesting. The audience was about 20, but was filled with fellow writers, members of the Romantic Novelist Association and bloggers, and therefore the questions were offering advice to many of the audience, who were trying to get their books published. Many anecdoctes were told and the audience were given an insight into the life of a published author along with their struggles to get that first deal. Who knew that Liz Harris worked on Sunset Strip, Christina Courtenay grew up in Sweden and also lived in Japan and Sue Moorcroft did not get on with her English teachers at school, could not get on to a secretarial course and was told that she would never see Sue Moorcroft on the spine of a published book. It was a great event and it ended with tea and cake, although I didn't stay for cake!

I really enjoyed chatting to and listening to all four authors speak but I also had a great time meeting with old and new friends who also attended. Morton Gray and Ellie Swoop, who I had met at a previous year's Worcester Literary Festival, were there and they introduced me to more of their author friends: Janice Preston who was very excited because she had received printed copies of her debut novel, Mary and the Marquis, published by Mills and Boon on 1 August 2014 and I was lucky enough to have a copy to review soon on my blog; Elizabeth HanburyGeorgia Hill and O'Dwyer Author. It was really good to chat to these authors and I was shocked to be asked if I would review books with a little heat to them - it appears that American editors and reviewers do not like any mention of romantic liaisons!

I am looking forward to next years festival already and I hope that Alison May will be organising a similar event again. 


  1. An excellent account of the panel event in which we answered questions about romantic novels and aspects of writing, Sarah. It was a really enjoyable afternoon, during which it was lovely to meet so many 'old' friends, and to make some new ones.

    Many thanks for taking the time to write up your account of our panel and for including so many of the details. I think you gave an excellent taste of it to those who weren't there.

    You should have stayed for the cake! Not only is Alison May an excellent chairperson, but she makes the most brilliant carrot cake!

  2. Oh, you really should have stayed for the cake, Sarah. Two kinds of chocolate!

    Thanks for attending and for blogging. Hope to see you again before much longer.