In the morning I went to a workshop on creating romantic heroes led by authors Sue Moorcroft and Christina Courtenay. I can't picture myself writing a full-length romance novel, but I still harbour ambitions towards the People's Friend. Plus, it can't hurt to make your hero irresistible. (I also thought it might be useful for my forays into furry smut.)
The workshop kicked off with mandarin truffles for all, a freebie from publisher Choc Lit's chocolatier partner.
We were asked whether anyone was writing something other than romantic fiction. I put my hand up and said I was writing a children's book. Asked to describe my hero, I said he was a classic good-guy detective in the Philip Marlowe mould...and a pine marten.
"Well, make sure you give him a nice glossy coat!" was the advice given.
I enjoyed the presentation, which was accompanied by cute little caricatures of Indiana Jones, Jack Sparrow and Batman, and got some useful pointers. Heroes were placed in three categories, each with their own characteristics: romantic contemporary, romantic historic, and all other genres.
The best piece of advice I received was that it's important to be in love with your hero yourself, or your readers won't be. This was a great relief as I invariably fall in love with mine.
In the afternoon I attended a panel discussion by five authors in the romance genre. I hadn't read any of their books, and the only one I'd even heard of was Dorothy Koomson (My Best Friend's Girl; The Ice Cream Girls), but it was interesting to see them discuss their very different experiences and writing processes.
What was noticeable, and cheering, was how much they all obviously enjoyed writing, even when they have to do it under pressure.