Loch Awe in spring - Photo courtesy of Neil Donald Photography






Saturday, 6 February 2016

AFTERNOON TEA, A BESTSELLING NOVELIST AND ME... By Rae Cowie

Hello everyone,

As promised in my last post, today I’ll be revealing what happened when I was invited to afternoon tea with my absolute favourite author – USA Today and Sunday Times Bestselling novelist, as well as all-round lovely lady - Diane Chamberlain.

So why exactly is Diane my writing heroine? Quite simply, she writes fantastic women’s fiction stuffed full of family drama and suspense or, as it says on her novel covers, ‘she gets to the heart of a good story.’ And it’s true. She’s the best at taking everyday characters, putting them to the test, then telling their anything but ‘everyday’ stories.

So how did my dream of meeting Diane happen?   

At the end of 2015, Diane announced on her Facebook Readers Page that for the first time in twenty years she was to visit the UK and three book groups were to be given the opportunity to hear her speak. But there was a major problem - I wasn’t a member of a book group. How was I to meet her?

Well fortune was smiling upon me, as several non-book-group, like-minded Diane fans felt similar crushing disappointment at being unable to apply - until we came up with the inspired suggestion of setting up an online book group, entering – and won!


So I did what I advise my teenage sons never to do - I set off to London, alone, to meet friends I’d only conversed with on the Internet! Thankfully, when I arrived at a coffee house just outside Kings Cross Station, I was met by a great bunch of excited ladies who love Diane’s books as much as I do.

From there, it was a five minute stroll to the shiny offices of Pan MacMillan publishing, where we finally got to meet Diane, who was friendly, charming – a joy to listen to.

First she read from her latest novel ‘Pretending to Dance’. The story of Molly Arnette and her husband, who hope to adopt a baby but the adoption process terrifies Molly. We learn the reasons for Molly’s fears are linked to the death of her adored father, Graham, which sent her running from the small community of Morrison Ridge – never to return.

Diane went on to explain how her own beloved, older sister, Joann Scanlon, was the inspiration for Graham, as they suffer the same form of multiple sclerosis. She also made clear that although many of her novels follow characters facing difficult challenges, she likes to leave the reader feeling better for having known them.
  
After the reading, Diane fielded questions, when it was interesting to hear how the empathy she’d employed during her time as a hospital social worker and psychotherapist, working with vulnerable babies and teens, helps with character development.

Questions over, we all got a chance to talk with Diane when she signed my precious copy of ‘Pretending to Dance’. She was warm and genuine, even taking the trouble to greet each of us by name, putting us at ease and preventing us from feeling star-struck!

In all the excitement, I almost forgot about afternoon tea but can recommend the strawberry maroons, as I tried several - to ensure they were as light and airy as I first thought!

And so what did my fellow book group members make of the day?

Well on arrival, Diane kindly gave each of us a gift of a ‘lucky’ stone. If you haven’t yet read ‘Pretending to Dance’, then I won’t spoil the significance of this.  However, everyone agreed we’d already enjoyed a mountain of luck in winning the competition to meet her and take part in a very special day – thanks to Pan MacMillan and The Reading Agency for arranging.



When we first met online we were strangers but now I regard each of my book group ladies as a friend. Through our love of her work, Diane has done what she does best - taken a circle of characters and brought heart to the story. The perfect ending.

31 comments:

  1. Sounds like a completely lovely afternoon Rae. An inspiration on many levels - have the get-up-and-go to create the book group, to enter, the luck of winning, daring to go to London on your own ... All brilliant. I love your can-do attitude!

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  2. Thanks, Gill - you're making me blush! Meeting Diane was a genuine privilege - made so much fun by the lovely ladies I met along the way. Just like joining the Novel Points of View team! :-)

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  3. Your enthiusim and joy is dripping from this blog. Glad your heroine lived up to expections.

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    1. Thanks, Neil. She most certainly did...and more. :-)

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  4. Your enthiusim and joy is dripping from this blog. Glad your heroine lived up to expections.

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  5. She's one of my favourite authors too, Rae - I'm glad you had such a great time. Will you keep going as a virtual book club?

    I'm really pleased that my new book, Between Friends, has some Discussion points for book clubs in the back!

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    1. Yes we'll definitely keep going as a book club, Jenny - Diane has another novel coming out later in the year. :-) And congratulations on the publication of Between Friends on the 11th -discussion prompts are always helpful!

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  6. Rae, meeting you and your awesome group of readers was one of the highlights of my trip! Also, from your blog post, it's clear you can write and I can't wait to see a book from you on the shelves some day!

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    1. And now I've met you here and been introduced to your work. Off to the bookshop on Monday!

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    2. You've gone and made my day again, Diane! I understand how busy a professional writers life can be and the fact you make time for your readers says so much about the caring person you are. I'll be sure to send you a copy of my novel - one day! :-)

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  7. Hi Rae, I'm also an avid Diane Chamberlain fan and had the honor and pleasure to meet her in Myrtle Beach, SC at a book signing/talk event. At that time, I had never read any of her books but to date, I've read and loved them all. Not only is she a fabulous writer, she is a warm, generous soul, the kind of person I'd love to have as a best friend. My book, "Waggin' Tales: Bogey's Memoir" had just come out and of course I had a few in the trunk of my car and signed one for Diane. I asked her to write a review on Amazon if she liked it and she said she would. Quite honestly, with her busy life, I never expected her to do so but because she is so special, sure enough,she did just that. I admire your tenacity and perseverance to follow your dream. I can feel the joy you experienced having tea with this wonderful woman. Hugs, Maureen O'Brien

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    1. Thank you for sharing your story, Maureen. It's lovely to 'connect'. After meeting Diane and hearing her talk, I'm not surprised in the least that she took the time to read and review your work - such a generous lady. Also, she mentioned she's working towards a July deadline, so we'll have another wonderful novel to read soon! :-) Rae x

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  8. Oh my goodness, what a wonderful adventure. And how very inspirational. Loved reading about it, Rae, and thanks for sharing.

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  9. Rae, I really enjoyed reading your blog post. Sometimes I feel like I was on the trip with her when she made me so much a part of the story. Seeing my sister's reviews and articles about her make me feel extra proud of all she has accomplished. She told me how exciting it was to be greeted by so many smiling and excited fans. I too am one of her biggest fans. Of course I read them all her books and always look forward to the next one. Joann Scanlon

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    1. Hello Joann - and how absolutely wonderful you've got in touch. It was clear during Diane's talk how important family is to her and I hope I'm not speaking out of turn when I say I got the impression that she was your No1 fan too! She told us a little of your campaigning work (linked to Pretending to Dance) and explained how much of an inspiration you are to her. I agree that sisters are to be cherished - but then I'm a big sister too! Already looking forward to reading Diane's next novel, too. :-)

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  10. What an inspirational blog, Rae. I guess you floated home afterwards! I have to confess I've never read a Diane Chamberlain book but guess what? My tbr pile has grown!

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    1. Oh my, Jennie - you're going to lose hours now! Diane has such a wonderful back catalogue to work through. Always great to 'discover' a new author to love. :-)

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  11. Sounds like a triumph all round, Rae. Congratulations on making it happen, and on writing such a feelgood blog about all its aspects. That magical bond between writer and reader is always fascinating, and to create circumstances in which it can be explored in the flesh is very special.

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    1. Thank you, Bill - I agree. Which reminds me - it's been far too long since we enjoyed a writers get-together. Hope to see you soon! :-)

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  12. Uplifting and inspirational, Rae. So glad you had a wonderful time! :)

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  13. Thanks, Jennifer. I'd love to do it all again some time!

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  14. What a wonderful opportunity and inspirational post, Rae - I'm sure it makes every writer feel special to hear and meet such avid fans. Well done on taking that initiative and fulfilling your dream to meet Diane. The whole adventure sounds like quite a good idea for a plot for one of your books, Rae.

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  15. That's a great idea, Rosemary - I might just pinch that one! Thanks for sharing. :-)

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  16. What a lovely experience, Rae. anne stenhouse

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  17. Thanks, Anne. It was made all the more special because the day was shared with a fun group of ladies. :-)

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  18. What a wonderful day, Rae - your favourite author and new friends into the bargain.

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    1. It was perfect, Kate! And Diane shared she's working on another novel. Something to look forward too. :-)

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  19. A memorable day, Rae, and all the better for knowing you and the others in your group brought it about by your own efforts. An inspiring post!

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  20. Thanks, Joan. It was a very special day and now I'm a member of a lovely book group too. :-)

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  21. Wow! What an afternoon experience! Thanks for sharing.

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    1. Thanks, Stella. It was so kind of Diane to dedicate some of the short time she had in the UK to her fans - such a generous lady. :-)

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