Marrying Max has won the Romance Prize 2007. Typing it still doesn't seem to make it any more real. Yesterday was one of the most amazing and surreal experiences of my life.
Allison and I met as planned at the station and had a nice journey into London, talking about our books and who we hoped to see at the lunch. We took a taxi to the Savoy and got there just a little early. This turned out to be a good thing as it's a very large place and it took us a while to find our bearings. Fortunately we were spotted by Roger (med author Gill Sanderson) and Jan Jones who rescued us and pointed us in the direction of the cloakroom and the bar.
I was too nervous to risk alcohol and I'm not much of a drinker anyway, so Allison and I stood with our glasses of water in this very large and impressive room trying not to be overwhelmed by the whole thing.
I had a lovely chat with Maddie Rowe about the revisions she'd asked for on Charlie and fortunately we seem to be in complete accord about the improvements. Then we were called through to the luncheon by the toastmist
The River room is beautiful, all cream and gold ornate plasterwork and the tables looked gorgeous with silver candleabra on mirrored plates. Allison and I didn't really know anyone very well on or table but we were fortunate to be seated with some very lovely people and we soon broke the ice.
The lunch was delicious, I mean really wonderful. Then it was time for the awards. The main award - The Romantic Novel of the year was first. This was won by Rosie Thomas for her book Iris and Ruby. She gave a superb speech.
Dame Tani Grey-Thomson presented the award and she was also a very moving speaker and her love of books really shone through.
Then it was the Romance Prize. The books short-listed were all so good as the chair of the judges talked about each one I just thought wow - that one will win. Then she said they had shortlisted them to three and Marrying Max was mentioned.
The lady next to me was smiling at me and I thought, no way do I stand a chance. Then I vaguely remember hearing my name and lots of excitement in the room.
I couldn't move. Allison was urging me to stand up and Michelle Styles came over and pushed me out of my seat to go up to collect the Betty Neels rosebowl.
I don't know how I walked across that room and onto that stage.
Then, horror, I was expected to make a speech -
I have no clue what I said.
I know it was short.
I hope I remembered to thank everyone.
After that it all went a bit crazy. I had the rosebowl on the table and I said to Allison -'how are we going to get this home on the train?'
She was grinning like a cheshire cat and said 'I've got a rucksack.'
The agent, Darley Anderson, came over to give me his card and asked me to send him something.
All my friends at Mills and Boon came over to the table and it was just crazy!
The next few hours just flew by. I had to call my husband and my mother and Jessica, my cp.
It felt so unreal - heaven knows what the photos people took of me will be like as I was still in shock.
It wasn't till Allison and I got out of the taxi back at Euston that it started to sink in and I remember saying to Allison - 'I won, didn't I?'
She just gave me a hug and steered me towards the train.I really do need a keeper when I'm out.