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Behind The Scenes Of The RoNA Awards 2021

On the evening of 8th March, 2021, the Romantic Novelists’ Association hosted the online Romantic Novel Awards event. The presentations of these prestigious awards are usually held at a grand establishment somewhere "up country" to Cornwall. However, due to the Covid restrictions, this year the event was held entirely online and live streamed via Twitter, Facebook and the RNA’s website. This meant that although I was a finalist, I didn't have to cross Cornwall's border to take part.

An online event does not just happen. A lot of hard work goes into organising it which, thankfully, in this case I had nothing to do with. It started in December, when I received the wonderful news, via my publisher, that my novel, Daniel’s Daughter, had been shortlisted for the historical romantic fiction category. The notification came in December, but I, along with all the other finalists, were sworn to secrecy until it was formally announced in February. The online event on the 8th March was to announce the winners. As one of the finalists, I am going to take you behind the scenes of the event as I share my experience.

In the run-up to the online event, the finalists were asked to take part in an online technical check so their internet connection and lighting could be tested. Thankfully, no major issues were found with my setup, although I did make a few changes (in true seasoned vlogger style… which I am not by the way) to my set up. I added some flattering lighting, had my novel on display and raised the height of the laptop so viewers were not forced to look up my nose! Despite the changes, I quickly realised that one can’t take twenty years off one's face no matter how hard one tries!

Under normal circumstances, the yearly event is an opportunity to have a drink, mingle with other authors and enjoy the celebrations before the awards are presented. In the hope to capture the essence of this, the RNA arranged a late afternoon private video meet-up for the finalists. We were allocated to different groups. This was an opportunity to chat and relax with authors from the other categories before the main event. I met some lovely writers as I drank wine and ate a cheap pizza. As you have probably realised, I know how to party in style! In fact, we got on so well we continued chatting well after the time our meet-up should have ended. Eventually, we wished everyone good luck and left to prepare for the main event.

At 7.00pm the live-streamed main event started. We were able to watch the event on a separate device to our video link, but we were advised to turn it off when our category was called as there was a risk it would compromise the internet connection. It was quite nerve wracking to wait for my category and my name to be announced as a finalist. I had a few snowball drinks, salted cashew nuts and wore a posh dress to get into the mood. I was aware that somewhere out there, amongst the 350-400 people watching the live award event, was my mother, some of my friends and some members of my extended family.

No matter how much one plans, plans can still go wrong... especially when technology is involved. Unfortunately, on the evening of the 8th March, 2021, there were a lot of gremlins having a party too as they began to play havoc with the system. I watched the show unfold on my phone as I waited in the historical romance 'green room' with the other authors in the category. It was such a shame that things did not run as smoothly as everyone hoped. So many people had tried to make it a celebratory event. I felt for everyone involved.

I didn't win, but I made some new friends as we waited for the presentations. Life throws up all sorts of experiences... which will leave you feeling either good, bad or indifferent. Despite the technical difficulties, I enjoyed the experience and it will certainly be one I will remember for a very long time.