Saturday, July 14, 2007

Great Big Blog Party 35 Marina Oliver

Today's Guest Blogger is someone I had heard of for a long time before I ever met her. Anyone who was in the Romantic Novelists' Association would have heard the name Marina Oliver as someone who was part of the Association and always working hard for the RNA. She was Chairman of the Romantic Novelists' Association 1991-93, ran the Association's New Writers' Scheme for three years, and helped organise RNA Conferences. She also edited the Newsletter published six times a year and is now involved in co-ordinating plans for the Association's coming 50th birthday.

She's also a multi-published author in a wide range of genres - Regencies, crime, sagas, romantic suspense - Marina has published them all. And if that wasn't enough there are the How to books - Starting to Write, Writing a Novel, Writing Romantic Fiction ( all of which she now self-publishes under the imprint of Tudor House) Writing Historical Fiction (Studymates) . . . And there's more . . .
She’s edited books for Transita , been a final judge for the Harry Bowling Prize for a novel set in London, and was an adviser to the 3rd edition of Twentieth Century Romance and Historical Writers 1994. She’s given talks and workshops at the Cheltenham Literature Festival and other major writing conferences, Winchester, Swanwick, and Caerleon, and set up the Romantic Novelists' Association annual conference. She also set up and runs an appraisal agency called StorytrackS
I was ready to be scared! But when I first met Marina at the fabulous Caerleon Writers' Holiday I knew I didn't have to worry. Marina is a lovely, warm, welcoming lady. Quietly spoken, wonderfully dressed - she has a great taste for the dramatic and slightly exotic - friendly, interested and interesting. We've been friends ever since. Part of what makes Caerleon so much fun is meeting up with her again, sitting in on her Advanced Novel Writing Course - sharing her enthusiasm, pooling our knowledge. And when I ventured to my very first RNA Conference in 2001, back in the days when I was one of those Conference 'Virgins' it was the sight of Marina's smililng face, her warm welcome, that made me stop panicking and realise that I might perhaps actually enjoy this experience. She's always active, always busy - and she has a fund of knowledge about writing and publishing that is invaluable.

Oh yes, and wherever Marina goes, her hadnsome, charming husband, Chris goes too. I was delighted to learn on reading Marina's post that she and Chris will be celebrating thier Golden Wedding next year - delighted and not at all surprised. If two people were made for each other, these two certainly give that impression - a perfect example of that Happy Ever After that I want to create for all my heroes and heroines.

Marina (and Chris) - thank you for joining in my celebration - and I'm so looking forward to being able to raise a glass of something sparkling to you both on your Golden Occasion.

So here's Marina Oliver

Kate Walker is one of the most generous people I know. She also has brilliant ideas and the energy and organising ability to carry them out.

The celebration weekend is one example. I was so thrilled to be included, and want to thank Kate publicly for giving me the opportunity not only to join in congratulating her, and chat to other writers, but to explore some of the glories of Lincoln. And I wasn't warned about the wonderful bookshop near the White Hart - it was fortunate the car park was close by when we staggered out with two boxes of books.

As a writer of historical romances, I love visiting all sorts of places that might give me ideas. Margaret, who led the ghost walk on Friday evening, was a wonderful storyteller. I might well have a ghost in my next book! The Georgian and Victorian prisons in the Castle gave me different ideas. The Cathedral is full of treasures, especially the Wren Library, and the tomb of Katherine Swynford (Anya Seton's book Katherine is one of my favourites). Most impressive, though, was the modern set of Stations of the Cross, carved and veneered by William Fairbank. He had used 139 types of wood - I didn't know so many different trees existed!

Kate's other ideas? For some years she 'mothered' the 'virgins' at the RNA Conferences. Knowing how daunting it could be to meet over a hundred strangers, she set up an online newsletter so that by the time they got to the conferences they felt they knew one another. She introduced them to some of their favourite authors, and made sure they all had a wonderful time.

Her generosity extends to giving would-be writers tips, in person, through appraisals for the RNA New Writers' Scheme, in her 12-Point Guide to Writing Romance, and numerous talks and workshops. She even takes the time to sit in on some of my workshops during the Writer's Holiday week at Caerleon in July, to add her expertise to mine. This year she's doing one of the main talks, which is a treat I'm looking forward to.

Fifty books! When I was first published I regarded one book as a sufficient achievement. The idea of reaching fifty books, or, come to that, fifty years, seemed unlikely. I passed fifty years too long ago to want to remember, but my fiftieth novel, a Regency Courting Lord Dorney, is out in September. It's taken me ten years more than it's taken Kate! When she gets to her hundredth I'll be panting way behind her on my zimmer frame.

Kate Walker is a very special person and I'm honoured to be a friend. Her books are full of warmth and emotion, written from the heart, and doesn't she create some wonderful heroes! But then, she has two models of her own in Steve and Paul.

Which historical period would you most like to have lived in, and why?

A copy of The Glowing Hours, a saga set in the 1930s, about three girls who are passionate about dancing.

Marina Oliver is a former Chairman of the RNA, has edited books for Transita, administers the Harry Bowling Award, and helps to run the appraisal agency StorytrackS. She has published fifty novels, historicals, Regencies, sagas and crime, and half a dozen non-fiction books, and is celebrating another half century next year with her golden wedding


juliemt said...

Hi Marina,
I grew up reading Austen and Heyer so I'd love to live in the Regency era. I just love the mores, the manners of the time, the clothes and the gorgeous men!

I'd also would love to live in the Tudor period as it's a period which fascinates me so much probably due to the wonderful Jean Plaidy books I devoured in my youth.

Congrats on your fiftieth anniversaries and I must look out for your books!

Dena said...

Hi Marina,
I think it would have been very fascinating to live in the Elizabethan era,only if I had wealth though,lol. The Regency era would be a lot more civilized and modern compared,I would have loved to cause a scandal by showing an ankle or two.

lidia said...

I would love to have lived during the American Revolution. It must have been a very difficult time for the colonists -- those that stayed loyal to England as well as for the Patriots that forged ahead to form a new country. In many ways I have to admire those that lived then no matter what their political beliefs. It took courage to admit to being on either side.

Virginia said...

I guess if I had to go back in time I would love to see how things went during the civil war, but I would want to be the upper class. I don't think I would want to give up the modern life we have today, but maybe just for a visit. Lets face it times were pretty hard for most people back in any historical time.

pearl said...

I have always been captivated by novels of the late Victorian era. The beauty and tranquility of the English countryside sounds extremely appealing. All of the books by Thomas Hardy represent this lifestyle and era. Just before the advent of the Industrial revolution.

alissa said...

My favorite era would be the Edwardian era. This period before the worries of World War 1 when society was immersed in the suffrage movement and social issues. I enjoy many books that were written during this time. It is a carefree time and the lifestyle has an allure especially for the upper class.

annie said...

I would have enjoyed living during the Victoria Era and seeing the district of England, specifically where the Brontes lived and wrote. The bucolic surroundings would be enchanting. I am entranced with their wonderful novels and can picture the locales.

joelle said...

The Jazz Age of the 1920's seemed to me a memorable era. The carefree existence of the titled and the landowners certainly is attractive and fascinating as well. The art deco which predominated as well as the flapper clothing is unique and it would have been quite an experience to witness this short era.

robynl said...

the Victorian era for me I believe. The grand balls and lovely costumes are beautiful.

Sue A. said...

I'm going to wimp out and say none, only because as a woman I can't imagine living in a period which literally was a man's world. A world which women were at the mercy or kindness of men, whether they be their father, husband and even brothers. I enjoy visiting the periods through books from the safety of the modern world.

diane said...

I enjoy reading novels that transport me to the special places that are depicted beautifully within the pages. These are for the most part family sagas which grip me and take place during the early twentieth century and into the 1930's and 1940's.

CrystalG said...

I would choose either Regency England or 1950's America.

ruth said...

I love everything about the 50's. I was born in the early 50's and grew up during that unique era. It means everything to me. I am especially nostalgic about that time since I cherish the special memories that are so meaningful to me. I now live in a wonderful 1950's community in a lovely part of town and will remain here forever.


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