Falling in Love with the Romantic Novelists’ Association with Jessie Cahalin

Falling in Love with the Romantic Novelists’ Association

Presenting (clockwise): John Jackson, Rhoda Baxter, Lynda Stacey and Anne Marie Brear

A tiny oak door opened into the warmth of the Romantic Novelists’ Association event, and a hearty welcome glowed from Lynda Stacey and John Jackson.  The guests of the RNA York charmed me, and I fell in love with a family of romance writers.

I found a home and a place to rest my bag for a while.  Word wizards distracted me from the beauty of the medieval setting. I wondered how many years of writing experience the authors had amassed between them. Would I be able to cram all the authors novels into the nooks and crannies of the ancient Merchant Taylors’ Hall?  It was obvious there would need to be bags and bags of books.   Inspired by the moment, I invited authors to be photographed with their books in their handbags.

The ancient Merchant Taylors’ Hall

Readers are now invited to take a seat beside the fire and meet the heroes and heroines of my narrative. Look at their books and the range of genres available. I must admit I did suffer from book cover envy when presented with the glorious front covers. Besides admiring books, I discovered gems of advice from the writers. Authors told me about the magic of Canva, Photoshop and Word Cloud. Magic words that certainly did not echo around the room six centuries ago.

What a palaver! I attempted to take a selfie with Milly Johnson and Rhoda Baxter.

Chat with the word wizards encouraged me to step outside of my Books in my Handbag Blog and talk about writing my book.  I found myself spellbound by Milly Johnson who had the power to conjure my Yorkshire accent from the depths of my handbag.  I was back home, in Yorkshire, with friendly writerly folk. Milly reassured me the writing process is still agony for her after sixteen books.  Rhoda Baxter joined the conversation, and I could have listened to the comedy duo all afternoon. If only I had recorded the conversation.  I am in awe of how Milly and Rhoda manage to write comedy with such flair.  They explained that comedy is channelled through the characters and flows naturally – words of comedy experts.  In a classic comedy moment, I fumbled with my phone to take a selfie with Rhoda and Milly but had the lens pointing at the table in front of me. Flummoxed by technology, I felt ‘as daft as a brush’, but the grand lasses just laughed.

Chair of Romance Novelists Association, Nicola Cornick. This is the kind lady who poured me some tea.

Suspended in the glow of the RNA heaven, I became lost in the moment until the afternoon tea arrived at our table. Chair of Romance Novelists Association, Nicola Cornick, poured me tea from an enormous teapot that was the size of a small house.  We ate buttery scones, zingy lemon drizzle cake, and indulgent chocolate brownies with chips.  Well, you must have chips at a northern afternoon tea. I almost forgot the delicate array of posh sarnies.  The happy nattering of the RNA family filled the room until the guest speaker was introduced. It was time to ‘shut me cake ‘ole’.   


Jean Fullerton, guest speaker, showcasing her popular historical fiction.

Guest speaker, Jean Fullerton, spoke passionately about her writing journey. She also celebrated popularity or the romance genre and challenged prejudice. Congratulations to Jean on her successful historical fiction novels set in the East End of London. According to Jean, ‘to write about life is to write about love.’  She handed over her gift of hope that, ‘sometimes, just sometimes, love does win and dreams come true.’

That day, I fell in love with the RNA and it is my dream to be adopted by this family one day. I forgot to take photos of the cakes because I was busy eating them and chatting. Overwhelmed by the RNA world, I departed into a rainy Saturday afternoon.  I regret I did not see, blogging legend, Anne Williams and the authors I have met in the Handbag Gallery. Despite the realisation I need glasses, I had a ‘reight good time’ and found ‘me’ old Yorkshire accent hiding in the medieval hall. I hope to move back to Yorkshire.  I would also love to meet Sue Moorcroft in the future.  The tiny oak door was left ajar, so I can return next year. I look forward to finding out if the magical medieval setting may inspire some more romance stories.


Meet (clockwise): Lesley Field, Ellie Gray, Ros Rendle, Chrissie Bradshaw, Sylvia Broady and Rosemary Smith

Congratulations to Lynda Stacey on a wonderful event.  Best of luck with the release of her new book, ‘The Fake Date’.  I am looking forward to interviewing her, with the book due to be released on 18th September.

Earlier this year, I chatted with Rhoda Baxter about my blogging adventure and was delighted to feature on the RNA website.

Please see all my adventures at Handbag Adventures and my website and blog at JessieCahalin.com.



Leave a Reply