Christina’s Wednesday Hottie

Photo from photo gallery

Photo from photo gallery

I thought it was time for some rock’n’roll in the Wednesday Hottie department, so today I give you Synyster Gates (aka Brian Haner Jr) from the band Avenged Sevenfold. This guy isn’t just an award-winning lead guitarist, he’s also got cheekbones to die for and those eyes …!

With his own clothing brand, I reckon he could have made a fortune modelling for that, but I’m glad he also contributes to the groups many hits because I like their music too.

So who else likes “tall, dark and handsome”? (I know that tattoos isn’t to everyone’s taste, but for a rock god I think they are necessary and add a certain je ne sais quoi)

RoNAs – Result!

Monday was the Big Day – the annual RNA Awards now called the RoNAs (Romantic Novel Awards) – and as you may have heard already once or twice (or maybe more?), Choc Lit had a triumphant afternoon!

Kate, Christina and Jane

Kate, Christina and Jane

Jane Lovering won the Romantic Comedy category with Please Don’t Stop the Music, Christina Courtenay won the Historical Romantic novel category with Highland Storms and Kate Johnson only just missed out in the Contemporary novel category with her wonderful The Untied Kingdom.  As she lost to Katie Fforde, the RNA’s lovely President, we didn’t mind too much, and two out of three is a pretty good ratio any day!  And as Peter James, the chairman of the Crimewriters’ Association said before he handed out the prizes, all the shortlistees were winners – we totally agree with that.

Rather than boring you with endless trumpet-blowing though, we thought we’d give you Jane’s, Christina’s and Kate’s take on some other aspects of the awards ceremony.  Here is what they had to say and please let us know if you agree with them:-

awjane-with-awardsmallThere were some fabulous outfits on display, which was your favourite?

Jane – Well I was lusting ever so slightly over Katie Fforde’s full-length coat/dress thing.  I’d have looked like a bag of elderly onions in it, but she looked gorgeous.

Kate – There were so many lovely outfits, it’s hard to choose! Christina’s own lovely mauve jacket and boots – ooh, those gorgeous boots! – probably take the prize for me. Marina Fiorato gets Best Hair, Katie Fforde wins Best Cape, and of course our host, Jane Wenham Jones, for her platinum frock, gets Best Dress.

Christina – I was very taken with Jean Fullerton’s emerald green suit as I love bright colours, but I also coveted Liz Fenwick’s fabulous purple jacket.

awchristina-with-awardsmallAnd then there are the shoes – not counting your own, which ones did you wish you’d been wearing?

Jane – Um.  Is it wrong of me to say that I wasn’t looking at people’s feet?  Although, Christina, I did notice your rather lovely lilac boots…

Kate – I’m not sucking up here, but when I invited my mum her first thought was which shoes to wear. I covet her gold sandals terribly; it’s probably just as well we don’t take the same size!

Christina – My feet wished they’d been wearing Jane’s boots, but Bex Leith’s black shoes were wonderful so I’d probably have thrown caution to the wind and picked those.

The ‘bubbly’ was flowing, do you prefer it pink or normal?

Jane – As long as it keeps flowing I am really not bothered. Give it fizz and keep it coming!

Kate – Well, if there’s bubbly going I’m not picky about the colour. Although I will say that the first time I tasted Bollinger was the first time I “got” champagne!

Christina – Neither – hate the stuff!  Unless you put peach juice or Kir in to make it ultra sweet.

Which was your favourite canape?

Jane – I didn’t eat any.  I was too terrified and then too shocked.  And ever so slightly too busy drinking…

Kate – I’m not large on the canapés, being that it’s often hard to tell whats in them (I don’t eat meat or shellfish). But the salmon ones were nice. And matched the champagne.

Christina – Salmon, definitely, although I was in such a state of shock I can’t actually tell you what the others were!

awardauthorssmallMost amusing comment of the afternoon (either in a speech or normal conversation)?

Jane – Hazel Osmond and I had a discussion about weeing in handbags in extremis. It amused us and probably disgusted onlookers, particularly when I did the actions.  Not the real actions, I hasten to add.  Although it was a long way to the toilets and I feel that no-one would have blamed me.  Except Hazel, obviously.

Kate – Should I drop Jane in it for her split crotch/handbag comments? [Looks like she’d done it herself, Kate!] No, okay. I heard someone say that the Ladies bathroom was bigger than the Blue Banana. (It was. It really was.)

Christina – The whole of Peter James’s speech was great, but I can’t recall the specifics – fortunately Emma Lee Potter has mentioned it on her blog.

Finally, we heard Kate’s hero Harker mentioned quite a few times during the event (in fact, if there had been a ‘best hero’ award, we reckon he would have won it hands down!) – who was your favourite hero out of the ones in the shortlisted books?  (If you can’t choose, we’ll allow you two)

Jane –Nope, sorry, I refuse to acknowledge that any hero exists except for Harker.  Apart from maybe Gus, from Katie Fforde’s Summer of Love.  He’s cute too.  And my Ben… in fact, all of them are pretty phwoooaaar-worthy, now I come to think of it.

Kate – Aw, yes, Harker is grumpy he didn’t win anything. He’s not used to losing: where he comes from you win, or you die. I do recall Jan Jones’ Hugo from The Kydd Inheritance being rather heroic when it came to highwaymen, and of course, the lovely Brice Kinross in all his intelligent, brave, kind and handsome glory. Now … which book was he from, Christina?

Christina – Apart from Harker?  Well, Ben in Please Don’t Stop the Music is definitely my kind of guy – former rock star, slightly moody, handsome in a grungy kind of way.  And I loved Riccardo in Marina Fiorato’s Daughter of Siena – wow, gorgeous Italian with an amazing sense of honour, and also very kind and considerate!

So there you have it, our brief take on the RoNAs.  Now comes a nail-biting wait to see who of the five category winners will take home the overall “Romantic Novel of the Year” title – if you’d like to help vote for any of them, please go to the Awards Website.

Music in the key of love – Confessions of Jane Lovering – Emo

I find it impossible to listen to music while I’m writing; I sit here surrounded by birdsong and cows, with the occasional insane sheep chorus, it’s so bucolic it would make The Archers feel a bit outclassed. So when I do feel the need for some music to stir me up a bit, I go for the indie rock variety. In my upcoming novel ‘Please Don’t Stop the Music’, my hero Ben is actually an ex indie rock guitarist, complete with the whole ‘skinny, long-haired, tight jeans’ thing and I half-imagine him as fronting a band like Fall Out Boy (who I luuuuurrrve), or Bullet for my Valentine. Only prettier than either Pete Wentz (tricky) or Matt Tuck. So, as you can imagine, I had to watch a lot of rock bands for research purposes and, oh, it was tough. However, my eldest son is a guitarist, and he gave me some useful tips on fronting a band and general guitarist stuff, which I hope all went to helping make Ben a very ‘real’ hero. It also meant I had to listen to a lot of my son’s favourite bands, all of which seem to have names which are variations on ‘Rip Off my Head and Watch me Die’, although I did come to love Gallows and Paramour. And I recently got into Hadouken (very shouty music, best saved for driving fast to). But I am still a sucker for the surprisingly lyrical stuff that everyone nowadays calls ’emo’. Emotional heroes? Oh, yes.

Songs in the Key of Love: Christine Stovell

The soundtrack of Turning the Tide ranged from Scissors Sisters to South Pacific via sea shanties, Stereophonics and a little dash of Elvis. That was the mood music playing in my head, although I can’t listen to anything with lyrics when I actually write because I find it too distracting.

I’ve mentioned before that voice is important to me when it comes to creating a hero; Sterephonics’ Kelly Jones, singing a slow ballad like ‘Maybe Tomorrow’ which is filled with loss and yearning gets me every time! Apart from that, there’s nothing like a good old Misery Fest to inspire me; a complete and utter wallow in Nick Drake, John Martyn, Tim Buckley and Radiohead does the trick nicely. And if the rest of my family aren’t climbing the walls by then I’ll often round it off with big, wild blast of my all time fave Nick Cave!

Once the spark of inspiration catches and I’ve got to know my characters, what’s interesting to me is that I start to become familiar with their music too and notice what they’re listening to or singing. Fortunately, my current characters have far more cheerful tastes than I do… which is probably just as well.

Why can't you be inspired by happy music? begged her family

Why can't you be inspired by happy music? begged her family

Music and Heroes – Christina Courtenay


Billie Joe Armstrong

Billie Joe Armstrong

I’ve often been told I have strange taste in music. I think what people mean is I don’t act my age. Too bad! I don’t think music should be “ageist” and when I hear something I like, I don’t stop to consider what age group it’s aimed at. I just enjoy it. With two teenagers in the house, I hear a lot of new music and I’m more likely to shout “turn it up” than “turn it down.

Music definitely inspires my writing, albeit indirectly, by allowing me to relax and think. I would find it hard to live without music.  I can always find a song that corresponds to whatever mood I’m in. If I’m feeling angry and frustrated, bands like Linkin Park, Korn and Nightwish reflect my sentiments exactly.  If I’m introspective, Green Day are just the ticket (Billy Joe Armstrong writes wonderful lyrics and he also qualifies as prime hero material!). For nostalgic daydreaming, there’s nothing like Def Leppard, my all time favourite band, and if I’m sad, a power ballad like “Alone” by Heart or “Dear God” by Avenged Sevenfold will express it much better than I could. Or even the Backstreet Boys (my taste is nothing if not eclectic!) – AJ McLean’s voice is like velvet honey, great for hero inspiration too.

I love discovering new bands and occasionally I even venture out to a concert or two. Recently I’ve seen Lostprophets and 30 Seconds to Mars and both bands have the advantage of a front man with hero potential – Ian Watkins and Jared Leto respectively. They were both awesome. Check out these photos and let me know what you think!

Jared Leto

Jared Leto

Ian Watkins

Ian Watkins