Saturday, 12 February 2011

On TWO shortlists!

What a super jamboree the RNA can throw! Champagne at 10 o'clock in the morning in the simply stunning setting of the RAF Club in Piccadilly, London, to announce the RNA Awards shortlist. And what better historical venue in which to be selected for the shortlist for the Best Historical Novel of the Year, as well as for the Best Romantic Novel of the Year.

The Jewel of St Petersburg is flashing its scarlet skirts in celebration.

What I love about meeting other writers is their boundless enthusiasm for their books, like mothers with precocious offspring, which meant the party in the President's Room buzzed with energy. When you get a host of writers, publishers, agents and media together - as well as trayfuls of champagne flutes - you get so much fizz your ears start popping. I think writers just don't get out enough!

I am impressed by the competition that Jewel has to face, a formidable line-up of talent, but I was particularly drawn to a book that for me stood out from the rest - titled Amazir and set in Morocco. It enchanted me. Okay, I admit it might be the gorgeous author, Tom Gamble, who did a bit of the enchanting, but I promise you he's one to watch.

Lunch with my agent afterwards at the V&A gave the celebration even more zip, though the subject of what my Next Book will be about raised its querulous head! But the day belonged to The Jewel of St Petersburg and we raised glasses to wish it success on March 7th when the winners will be announced.


Sam said...

Hi Kate,
Congratulations on the shortlisting. You deserve to win because The Jewel of St Petersburg is an amazing book. I read it a second time, as soon as I'd finished it, and it got even better because I noticed so much more. The ending kept me on the edge of my seat with my heart in my mouth. Thank you.

Tori said...

Congratulations on the shortlisting. :D

I am 350 pages into Jewel of St Petersburg at the moment and loving it. I adored all your previous novels so was in no doubt that I would love this one too. It is so nice to see - and fall in love with - Jens in more detail.

I am also eager for the next book. It sounds quite different but you writing style is amazing, so I am sure it will be just as wonderful as those set in Russia and China. :)

Kate Furnivall said...

Hi Sam,
Thanks for the great comments. Any author will tell you that getting endings right is hard, so it's good to receive such positive feedback.

Kate Furnivall said...

Hi Tori,
I'm glad you are adoring JEWEL - I certainly loved writing it. It was very rewarding to get so involved with Valentina again and see how she became the person she was in The Russian Concubine. Jens and his sewers were quite a challenge, so it's with great satisfaction that I see the pair of them up for the Best Romantic Novel of the Year. As for the new one, it's a whole new world that I have immersed myself in - I shall soon put up some posts to let you guys take an early peek at what goes on.

Marg said...

Congrats on the nominations! You are up against some really good authors and books! I particularly enjoy Elizabeth Chadwick and Jojo Moyes, and you of course!

Just finished Jewel of St Petersburg and I can tell you that it made me want to pick up The Russian Concubine and start rereading straight away.

Kate Furnivall said...

I agree with you about Elizabeth Chadwick and Jojo Moyes. It's going to be a tight call for the three judges to pick a winner - including the newcomer, Tom Gamble, who has written a very striking story set in Morocco. I don't envy them their task. But any award shortlist like this is good for the book trade and brings talented names to the forefront of a reader's attention. I think it's wonderful for first-time novelists to be included as it can give a real boost to their careers. All the shortlisted books will carry a sticker - stating that they have been selected for the RNA shortlist - which should draw in new readers and increase sales. The way bookstores and publishers are struggling at the moment, any added inducement to buy books has got to be worth celebrating. So many thanks to the RNA!

Richard said...

Congratulations on the shortlist nominations!! Amazing news... There couldnt be a more deserving book in 2010 than The Jewel. I wish you, Jens and Valentina the best of luck on March 7th!
Also I like the new photo.
Cant wait for the next one! (book I mean, not photo...obviously).

Kate Furnivall said...

Hi Rich,
Thanks for the congrats. It's cool that all you guys say such positive things about JEWEL and I appreciate it. Writing stories is such a weird introverted way of life, living inside one's head day after day, month after month, that it gives a real boost to hear comments from outside like yours. Mind you, I've just been to see the film The Black Swan (amazing)which takes weird to a whole new level and makes the inside of my head feel positively sane! said...

I have posted several times but do not get any answer. What was the Concubine's secret please?
I could not work it out & I have read the 3 books The Jewel of St Petersburg, The Russian Concubine & The Concubine's secret. I thought the secret was the She had lied about Alexiea's father as when he dies he tell Lydia he is not the father of Alexia. Please expalin?
tia Mary Bosman Perth Western Australia

Kate Furnivall said...

Hi Mary,
The whole business of titles is far more complicated than most readers realise. An author can send in a manuscript to the publisher under a certain title, only to have the marketing people decide that this title is not commercial enough or not aimed at the right market, so they are often changed. It was my German publisher who came up with the original title 'The Russian Concubine' which my UK and US publishers immediately adored. I did point out that there is no concubine in the book, but they didn't mind that in the slightest. As it is indeed a super title - though not necessarily suited to the book - I was happy to accept it.

Subsequently when I wrote the sequel (which I called The Russian Daughter) my UK pubisher decided to call it 'The Concubine's Secret' while my US publisher called it 'The Girl From Junchow'. So you see how confusing things can get! That's how the business of publishing works, I'm afraid.

As for the secret - there are two really. But I won't reveal them here as I don't want to put out a spoiler but I have emailed you the answer. Anyway I hope you enjoyed the books.

Bec said...

Fingers crossed! Goodluck :)

Richard said...

Hey Kate, I saw the Jewel of St. Petersburg in the Daily Express recently! Nice piece. Good luck with the result!

Kate Furnivall said...

Hi Bec,
Thanks for thinking of me tomorrow - every wave of positive vibes gets me a step closer! But there's some great talent on the list, so I won't hold my breath, but I intend to enjoy the day and the free champagne. The event is being held in the Gladstone Library in Whitehall, so I feel we are in august company indeed - though now I think about it, wasn't he the Prime Minister who was obsessed with prostitutes? A nice tie-in with Valentina who was being prostituted by her parents. I'll post the result when I get back to Devon on Wednesday. Thanks again.

Kate Furnivall said...

Hi Rich,
Yes, the Daily Express did us proud. There was quite a bit of publicity last week, building up to the Big Day tomorrow, and enticing displays of the shortlist books in bookstores, each carrying a sticker announcing its moment of glory. It will be an impressive event, I'm sure, and it's great to get feedback from other authors as well. The RNA do a great job of beating the drum for Romantic and Historical fiction, genres that are sometimes maligned by the literati. As Lee Child pointed out on World Book Day last week - 'criticism of popular fiction by the literati is like the flea criticising the dog'. Nice one!

Ruky said...

Hi Kate

I know the Lydia story for now was on hold and you have had alot on...i am however so so soooo eager to know if their journey will continue further and when to diarise for any future releases? Any indication at all at this stage or is it best to check later?

And thank you once again for giving us all some great reads, your books are fantastic and a joy to read!!

ene said...

Hi Kate,

I am looking forward to reading the Jewel of St Petersburg.
I wanted to ask you about your formal writing background: did you do a college or university creative writing course, or a short practical course like the Writers' Bureau one, or is it just a natural talent?

TIA for your answer.

Kate Furnivall said...

Hi Ruky,
Apologies for the delay in replying. After a hectic burst of writing and revising my latest, I lost track of my blog. But I'm back now. So thank you for your great comments about my books. I am still keen to pursue Lydia's story but my publishers in UK and US want me to move on to other stories which are also galloping around inside my head. So sadly, no actual date for another Lydia book yet, but don't give up hope! In the meantime, my latest - THE WHITE PEARL - will be published in various formats towards the end of this year and beginning of next. Enjoy it.

Kate Furnivall said...

Hi Ene,

It's always an interesting question - how much creative skill can be taught and how much is innate talent. I certainly have had no training at all in creative writing, but I did study English at university. Though the course involved no creative writing, it did focus on analysing what you read - which is an important first step in understanding what is good writing and what is bad. I studied the great works of English and American literature and have also read modern fiction all my life. So I think I have absorbed a huge amount of information through osmosis, so that when I come to write, all sorts of subconscious mechanisms are at work. To be honest, I don't analyse what I do too closely in case I frighten away the secret of it. But a large part of it is a combination of hard work, emotional truth and common sense. And I just love writing!

ene said...

Hi Kate,
Thanks for your honest, thoughtful answer. I'm sure that inspiration is a necessary ingredient too. I understand that yours came from your mother's story.

Tisserande said...

Hi Kate

I have just finished reading The Jewel of St Petersburg and find myself still thinking about the characters! I have read all of your books and thoroughly enjoyed them all. Really looking forward to The White Pearl.

Thanks for writing such absorbing and entertaining books.


Vicky said...

Hello Kate,

I have read your four wonderful novels and loved them all. They are so full of life and excitement and I love the settings - the colour of China and pre-Revolution Russia, and the starkness of the Soviet regime...

I just wondered if you could you tell me when the next book, The White Pearl, will be released. I've noticed it on Amazon but there is no date set. I am eager to read it, especially with the new setting. Thank you.


Kate Furnivall said...

Hi Vicky,
It's great to hear you've enjoyed my novels - I certainly enjoy writing them. As you have gathered, their settings are crucial to the plotting, and the place plays a major role, influencing the characters and action. My next one - THE WHITE PEARL - is set in Malaya in 1941, hot and steamy and explosive.

Its publication date in the UK will be 2 Feb 2012. But there is a large format edition that will be published towards the end of this year in English-speaking countries other than the UK - such as Australia, South Africa etc. There is some confusion on Amazon - it lists the publication date of this large format edition as May 2011 which is incorrect. My publisher has asked them to remove this, but as yet Amazon have been slow to oblige.

It's great to be involved in such a very different environment for this story and I hope you find this new world as exciting and engrossing as I did.

Melissa Marsh said...

Kate - I am reading The Jewel of St. Petersburg now and am just in complete awe of your writing talent. I am thoroughly and completely transported to Russia in 1911.

As a historical fiction writer, you are one of my idols! :-)

Kate Furnivall said...

Hi Melissa,

Thanks for your generous comments. Authors love to get feedback. While we sit in our little cocoons slogging away at the keyboard, it is easy to forget that there are actually readers out there who are into your books in a big way. Very rewarding to hear.

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