Monthly Archives: August 2011

Call To The Nation’s Women: Help Us Find The Perfect Man!

So, here are the results of the Festival of Romance‘s recent poll on romantic heroes. NOTE: I’m not certain that my votes were taken into consideration as ‘good car’ is considered not important! Am refraining from commenting on ‘great in bed’ not being deemed essential.

Romantic novelists don’t think that wealth, height or good looks matter. Essential attributes of the perfect man include having a sense of humour, being kind and principled and having good personal hygiene. It’s not even that important that he’s good in bed – romantic novelists said this was desirable in the perfect man but not essential. And they really don’t care what car he drives. But perhaps the women of Britain think differently?

The perfect man, according to romantic novelists (% agreeing), is:


Loyal (91%)

Honest (89%)

Personal hygiene (88%)

Kind (86%)

Sense of humour (86%)

Intelligent (85%)

Principled (81%)

Desirable but not essential:

Weight (65%)

Great in bed (62%)

Height (60%)

Self-confident (60%)

Good looking (60%)

Not important:

Good car (79%)

Religious persuasion (77%)

Political persuasion (64%)

Social standing (55%)

Wealth (53%)

The survey also revealed that romantic novelists believe that while people no longer expect everlasting love, they still hope for life partners. And while most romantic novelists say they prefer to write books that end with marriage or a commitment to a relationship, in society people don’t need marriage to prove they love each other. Romantic novelists confess to being romantics at heart (86%) although their real life is not as romantic as their books. Half of them have been disappointed in love (50%). They think men have, however, become more sensitive in recent years (76%) although women know that their best chance of finding a romantic man is between the covers of a romantic novel (64%).

“The Festival of Romance is calling on the nation’s women to let the novelists know what they think makes the perfect man,” says Kate Allan, chief romantic at the Festival of Romance. “This vital poll could change the way that romantic novels are written!”

To take the short survey, visit:

The closing date is 19th September 2011 and a winner will be drawn from all the entries to win tickets to the Festival of Romance.

The Festival of Romance is the UK’s first literary festival dedicated to romantic fiction of all kinds. The Festival takes place from 21 to 22 October 2011 at Hunton Park, near Watford, Herts. Events at the festival include an interview with bestselling novelist Carole Matthews and a debate on why men don’t read or write romantic fiction, except they do, with male Mills and Boon author Roger aka Gill Sanderson.

The survey of romantic novelists was polled online between 21st and 23rd August 2011 and interviewed 58 UK romantic novelists including many well known authors.

The Festival of Romance was the idea of Kate Allan, a 35 year old romantic novelist and mother of one. As well as organising the festival and bringing up a toddler, she works part time in publishing.




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When I grow up …

… I’m going to be an air traffic control officer.

I had the best time, today, at Stansted Airport control tower. Through a friend, Dave, a visit was arranged for me to meet the general manager of National Air Traffic Services at Stansted, Paul, and he was so kind as to answer a load of questions about the erstwhile career of my current hero, Dominic, and help me work the last kinks out of my backstory. (At least, I hope they’re the last kinks …)

He told me how Dominic’s career could have come to an end, how far he could have reached prior to the big life change that has plonked him into my WIP, Dream a Little Dream, and how he was likely to feel about that. He gave me loads of info on jargon and acronyms, without which the world of aviation wouldn’t be the world of aviation, and …

drrrrrrrrrrrrrum rollllllllllllllllll …

… he took me up into the control tower. It was such bliss. I don’t know if I’m unnatural but I love aircraft! (I love cars, too, but that’s a different novel.) I was introduced to the deputy watch manager, Lianne, and she took me over to Simon, the ground controller. Simon plugged me into his frequency and I was able to sit beside him and watch as he moved aircraft from the runways and onto the aprons (the bit beside the stands. The stands is where the planes park. You know, where you get on and off) and off the aprons and onto the runways. The guy next to him, Rob, did the bit where they get the aircraft off the ground and into the air, and they moved aircraft between them, a game of pass the giant-tin-parcel-with-hundreds-of-people-on-board.

The control tower itself is both serene and buzzy. ‘Control’ is definitely the appropriate word. The view is incredible, over miles of land and sky in almost all directions, with aircraft arriving and departing as if on some massive video game. It’s such a rush!

Simon was so clear in his explanations that I was completely caught up in what he was doing. Although I love aviation, I’m not the most technically minded person – there must a joke, here, about things whooshing over my head – but I was able to follow the progress of aircraft from one of his screens to the next to the next and over to Rob. And then from Rob, over Simon’s screens in the other direction, until they were on their stands. I couldn’t always tell what the pilot transmissions contained, but Simon didn’t seem to have any problems in deciphering the codes, call signs and squawks in accented English of all kinds. I had a paper plan of the aerodrome, a screen showing the same thing but with the aircraft moving around on it, and I could see the real thing through the window. It was brilliant.

I was just sorry when my time with Simon was up, Paul had to go to a meeting at Heathrow and I was shown genially on my way. I could have stayed up there for hours and hours, pestering everyone and generally getting in the way.

Huge thanks to everyone I met at Stansted today. You’ve made a novelist very happy.

And there would have been some wonderful pix … if I had taken the batteries for my camera. (I was in a rush.)


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Dream a Little Dream II

I’m still enjoying the research for my WIP, Dream a Little Dream. As you can see from the wondrous pic of my left foot – I’ve made a whole load of new friends.

They’re garra rufa fish. They seemed fairly happy to give me a fish pedicure – they live and thrive on dead skin, apparently, so as soon as a foot arrives in their tank, they’re all over it, nibbling furiously. When I heard about the fish pedicure treatment, I recognised it as exactly the kind that Liza would introduce to the Port Treatment Centre. So, what else could I do, but have a go?

After trying unsuccessfully to persuade a friend that she’d love to go with me, I went alone to face the nibbly fishies, having made sure I was wearing no nail varnish or fake tan. I had to wash my feet before being allowed near the stars of the show. Then … time to plunge in.

‘Put both feet in together,’ the therapist advised. ‘Then they won’t all go to one foot.’ At the very last second, I had a sneaking doubt as to whether I was actually going to enjoy this. But I’d paid my £10 so I dropped my feet into the cool water and … whoosh! Dozens of the little brown swimmers latched onto each foot. The instinct was to smartly withdraw with a loud girly shriek!

But, being the brave scuba diver that I once was, I didn’t disgrace myself. I picked up my camera and began to record the event. The photos and video clips I took recall the appearance of the fish and the tank and also the relaxing bubbling of the water. In no way does it capture the feeling, though!

It’s plain weird.

There’s no pain (put all thoughts of piranhas from your minds) but it’s not a relaxing feeling. Maybe invigorating. Think: bubbling/fizzing/nibbling/tingling/tickling, and you’re probably getting the idea. The water is cool but not uncomfortably cold (I don’t do cold) and there’s something faintly bizarre about sitting in a room with your feet in a tank of fish, watching from above their intense attentions as they move around your flesh like little munchy vacuum cleaners on a mission.

I quite enjoyed it.

But I didn’t notice my feet being any softer, afterwards.

Then, furthering my research on narcolepsy (there’s a lot more to learn about narcolepsy than there is to having your toes nibbled) last night I had the pleasure of once again meeting Dominic W, with a new list of questions about his sleep disorder and a new set of articles to discuss with him. My narcolepsy research file is now about two inches thick.

I can think of few more enjoyable ways to conduct research than through long involved conversations over a bottle of cold wine, in a crowded wine bar in the middle of London on a summer’s evening. Dominic brought me the boxes and containers from his meds – having previously emailed me photos of the tablets beside a ruler, so I knew the size – along with the appropriate leaflets (all for me to conclude that I’d refer to them as ‘little white pills’ and ‘little yellow pills’). We discussed how and when they were taken, effects, side-effects and advantages and what happens without them (clue: not much).

The aspects of narcolepsy that I find to poke my nose into are endless. Did you know that more narcoleptics are born in March than any other month? And fewest in September? (This is completely irrelevant to my book, but I don’t let that blunt my interest.) Onset is most common at puberty or the menopause (don’t think the latter will affect either Dominic), the median age for onset is 20, there are environmental triggers …

I just wish someone would find a cure for it.

The drawbacks to being a writer – such as deadlines suddenly brought forward and extra work requested without extra fees offered – are outweighed by the advantages. It usually beats having a proper job. I think that every book I write, from now on, I’ll plot according to how enjoyable the research will be.

Anyone want me to write a book about their luxury villa in Mauritius?


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Writers’ Holiday, Caerleon, in pix

I am really fighting time, at the moment, and so I’ve decided not to labour the point about how splendifareous a time I had at Writers’ Holiday, this year, but just to upload some of my pix for your delectation.

Chris Oliver and man-sized cake

The Cwm Bach Male Choir was, as ever, fabulous - especially in the bar, after the performance.

Part of the main building

There were lots of RNA members there, as delegates, speakers and tutors

The weather was gorgeous

In case you're wondering, my workshop was 'The Trickier Bits of Fiction'.

Can't help but feel she's being kind of bad mannered, doing her hair at a time like this ...


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