Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Great Big Blog Party 38 - Susan Stephens

Some years ago - I can't quite remember exactly - but I suspect it must have been in 2002 - I went to the RNA Awards lunch at the Savoy with my friend Michelle Reid. As always, I was seated on one of the HMB tables. I say 'one of' because there are usually 3 or more of these. As I'd got there only just in time, I didn't have much of a chance to chat before lunch was served - and I had a brand new editor to meet and talk to. So although I'd heard that there was a brand new Modern/Presents author who had just been signed and who had also attended the lunch, I didn't get a chance to meet her either then or at the end of the lunch. I got caught talking to someone else and before I knew it, I looked around and she'd gone.

The only impression I had of her was of beautiful red-gold hair and an elegant back. Because one of the words I always associate with Susan Stephens who is today's Guest Blogger is elegant.

She'll refute it, of course - that's Susan. Over on her Writing Diary, she's been worrying about the clothes she'll need to wear to the Big French Wedding that's coming up. But believe me, she has no need to worry at all. Every time I've seen Susan, even in jeans and trainers, she always looks wonderful, and as I've seen the shoes she'll be wearing (shoes I might just be able to get one toe into) I know that even in Paris she will be nothing less than the perfectly glamorous mother of the very handsome groom.

But that's Susan - the lovely lady that I did finally manage to meet at an Mills & Boon Author lunch - and so was able to congratulate her on the acceptance and publication of her first novel in 2003. We held each other's hands at the RWA Conference in New York and I also learned much more about her - like the fact that not only is she beautiful and glamorous and a talented writer, she was also a professional singer ( to someone who can't hold a note this is really something) and - what really impressed my son - she used to work as a presenter on Play School and met Jemima, Big Ted, Humpty and all the rest (you have to have had an English childhood some 20 years ago to understand ; O) )

I just checked this info with Susan and she says that she is:Proud of my association with these British icons: Royal College of Music/BBC Northern Singers and BBC Playschool (let's not mention my affair with Big Ted)/ D'Oyly Carte Opera Company/ Mills & Boon

And I'd just like to say that I'm proud to have Susan as a friend. I can't quite believe it's only 4 years or so since we met. In that time she's come to be a special part of my life - a warm, welcoming and fiercely loyal friend . (You know exactly what I'm thinking of there , Susan). She gives wonderful parties (see pic below of L to R Indioa Gray, Me, Susan and Amanda Ashby at one of them) with her lovely husband as host. She has a fabulous family, and she has a warm, open heart that extends to lost and abandoned animals as well as humans.
Anyone who read her diarywhen she lost her beloved dog Finn (who I was lucky enough to meet) and then fought to care for two very sick rescue animals (losing one but nursing Her Royal Betship back to strong good health) will know that this is someone who is able to handle the tough stuff as well as the fun.
(And a picture of Her Royal Betship will appease the Canine corner who complain about too many cats on this blog)

But being with Susan is always fun - and I'm so glad that she gave up singing professionally and took up writing so that I cold have her fun and friendship in my life.

So here's Susan Stephens (aka Glamorous Mother of the Groom)
Congratulations to my good friend Kate Walker on the publication of her 50th wonderful book for Harlequin Mills & Boon!

Kate is an inspiration to all of us, not just for her thrilling romances, but for her generosity and kindness in support of writers both published and non-published.

But more than this, I'd like to say there are some people who make you feel warm inside when you see them, and that Kate is one of these people. From the moment I 'met the authors' in London at the first of our annual gatherings that I attended Kate went out of her way to make me feel 'at home'. And then later at a conference in New York I met Kate's husband, Steve, who is as warm and funny as he is a genuinely caring and talented man- Steve's poems rival any I've heard for wit and wisdom.

Of course, Kate is also a great animal lover like myself, and we have shared some of the best and some of the worst moments where our pets are concerned. When I lost one of my two rescue dogs Kate was right there, consoling me with the thought that if we didn't at least try no animal would ever be rescued, and that two weeks of love are better than none.

Before I was published I would always look for Kate's books- and guess what? Nothing has changed! Kate knows I'm waiting in breathless anticipation for her 100th title, and indeed every book in between.

We love you Kate, and I'd just like to say that you deserve every moment of your success.


Susan has a signed copy of her current Presents title One-Night Baby to giveaway to some lucky person who answers this

I fell in love with Rome all over again when I travelled to the Eternal City on a research trip for One-Night Baby. What is your favourite city and why?


Rachel said...

Dear Susan,
I'm not sure if it's classed as a city but it would definitely be Sorrento in Italy. Utterly beautiful and romantic, so much so that our first was conceived there. Whoops!

Susan Stephens said...

I don't think many people would argue with your choice of sorrently, Rachel- surely one of the most photogenic cities in the world! Hope you spared some time for sight-seeing ;-)

Susan Stephens said...

Sorree! I can spell Sorrento, honestly!!

Kate Hardy said...

Susan, I didn't know the Play School bit! I have very fond memories of Play School. And I liked the arched window best.

My choice of city would be Norwich, because it's the most beautiful city and has such a special atmosphere. In Medieval times it was the second city of England (only just behind London); it had the largest city walls and the largest guild hall, and was known as the city of gardens and orchards.

In modern times, it still has the most stunning Norman cathedral (complete with 1,000 roof bosses which tell the story of the Bible - beautiful carvings - and in the bishop's garden there is a hebe grown from a cutting from Queen Victoria's bouquet). At one point we had a church for every week of the year and a pub for every day (!); and there are still many little narrow alleys and courtyards leading from the main streets (whose layout has barely changed for 700 years). We have a beautiful Norman castle, a river with peaceful walks, and what the 17th-century travel writer Celia Fiennes called "the best piece of flushwork [flints] in England" - oh, and the only Viking gold ingot ever found in Britain was discovered in an excavation in Norwich.

I could write an essay about how brilliant Norwich is (actually, I've written a few books along those lines... *g*) and I feel SO privileged to live here.

(Kate W: next time you come down, it will NOT be work and I'll show you and the BM round properly.)

Anonymous said...

Sue,I would have to say that my favorite city is Istanbul. It's exotic, full of fascinating history and sights.The food is wonderful. People are friendly and its just altogether a beautiful city.


Susan Stephens said...

Gosh, I haven't been to Norwich since I was with D'Oyly Carte, but I do remember what a beautiful city it is.

And Istanbul, the Blue Mosque and the Bosphorus, the crossroads between East and West- where could be more romantic than that? Plus I believe there is an excellent purveyor of 'almost genuine' handbags in the bazaar... Prada? Gucci, anyone?

Lois said...

Well, as for places I've actually set foot in. . . ;)

NYC -- love the museums, and they do have a certain musical there that I'm going to see soon. . . :)

DC -- museums there too

Orlando -- Disney World anyone? :)

Cape Canaveral -- ah, yep, that Cape :)

as for places I love and haven't been to (yet):

London/Bath/and all other Jane Austen related stuff -- always loved England, always loved Sherlock Holmes and more recently, Jane Austen :)

Cairo/Luxor -- love those mummies! :)


Jan Jones said...

Hi Susan,

London, for me. Always has been, always will be. I grew up in the suburbs and adored the freedom of being able to hop on a tube and hop out somewhere completely 'other'. Love it, love it, love it.

Cherie J said...

I was born and raised in New York City so it will always be number one in my heart. There is so much to see and do. Even though I live in Florida now I still have fond memories of my many years there.

Sue A. said...

I've travelled a little, but I've always felt the visits too short and too limited in scope to get a real feel for the places I've been. With this in mind I have to say Vancouver (where I live) is my favourite city. It's a beautiful city with scenic views of mountains and many beaches. Vancouver is one of world's best place to live and gets listed in the top three, year after year. It not a bad place to visit either! We're expecting the world to visit in 2010 for the Olympics.

Dena said...

Hi Susan, It's great to see you here. All of the posters cities sound wonderful. I haven't travelled anywhere outside of the states besides Canada right by Blaine Washington. I've visited relatives in Reno Nevada,the biggest little city in the World. It wasn't so beautiful. Closer to my home I think Seattle is beautiful when you arrive by ferry. They call it the Emerald city,but I would call it the Diamond city when you visit at night with all the lights on. On clear days you can see Mt. Rainer and it's always majestic and beautiful.

diane said...

I haven't travelled much but when I did see Venice I was enthralled and entranced. Everything else was ordinary compared to Venice. I hope to return since it was a one day trip. Also I loved Lido.

Anne McAllister said...

Hi Susan

Hard to pick a favorite city. Maybe Auckland because it has so much water and so many boats and great people and restaurants and it's a place I want to go back to so much!

New York, though, is deep in the competition for all the joys I've had there over the years. It's a vibrant, exciting, delightful place. I never tire of it. Besides, some of my best friends live there.

Glad to see Betty is thriving!

love, Anne

ruth said...

Barcelona is a city that cast its spell upon me. It felt wonderful to explore and learn the wonders of that special place. Exremely different from any American or Canadian city, very romantic and scenic.

lidia said...

I grew in Manhattan, so I have to go with NYC. I haven't traveled to Europe but love to. There are probably many beautiful cities there. However, I don't think that is fair to vote for a city if I haven't been there so I'll stick with NYC.

There are so many great things about it: Broadway, Rockefeller Center, Central Park, all of the Museums, the shopping, etc....
Can't think of anything not to like!

lidia said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Amanda Ashby said...

When I first met my husband we hitch-hiked from Brittany to Paris and stayed there for a week on the princly sum of one hundred quid. It was truly the most amazing city I've ever been to and I can't wait to go back there again (so Susan, if there is a strange lump in your wedding luggage then you'll know it's me!!!!)

hugs Amanda

Virginia said...

Hi Susan, I will have to say I haven't traveled much, but I can tell you I don't like big cities much. I love the country life. I like wide open spaces where you have a good vision of nature. Although I have never been out of the states I wouldn't mind to visit London of Paris. A friend of mine went to London and she didn't like it said she loved Irland but hated London.

Liz Fielding said...

I don't do cities much, but like Kate Hardy, I'd put Norwich up there with the best.

Swansea, my local city, is fun, too. It's known as the biggest village in the world because everyone knows everyone else. And Swansea Bay at night looks like Naples. Shame about the weather.

This year I'll be spending three days in Rome (my first visit, amazingly) and I'm totally prepared to fall in love with the place.

Susan Stephens said...

Lois! Disneyworld! Love it! Rocky Mountain Railway! Wheeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!

Waving hi, Jan...
London. I lived there when I was a student at Trinity and enjoyed some pretty memorable times, I can tell you! (actually, I can't tell you!) Sxxx

I visited Canada on my honeymoon, Sue. We loved the country and the people so much we didn't want to come home. I must be due a visit soon!

Hi Dena, how good to see you here. I would love to visit Seattle one day. I hav only seen the city on the television and film, and it looks magical- and don't worry about the rain- that's something I'm used to!

Diane, I adore Venice, as you know, and you're absolutely right, it is unique.

Auckland is on my list too, Anne. I hope to make my first visit next year. And thank you for asking about HRB She brings us happiness every day and we're so lucky to have found her.

Lidia and Cherie, NYC is one of the places I always miss when I leave and can't wait to get back to. The buzz, the culture, the people, the humour, the shopping... don't get me started!

Ruth, Barcelona is a stunning city with such magnificent architecture- and the food is fantastic- not to mention those edible men walking about!!

Amanda- you naughty girl! I can think of no better lump to discover in my luggage- though I would describe you somewhat differently- vibrant and beautiful both inside and out.

Virginia, I live in the country on top of a hill- I always think the view from my kitchen window is like Starship Enterprise coming in to land- and every day I take pleasure in the animals in the fields and the birds, so I know exactly what you mean!

Liz, I love Wales. My grandmother was Welsh speaking, and my first holiday 'on my own' with a school friend was taken on the coast there. The scenery is just stunning, and so is the cheese- I love Caerphilly- my fave not so light bite!

Back soon with a winner. Lovely to chat.

Susan Stephens said...

Lois, you're the winner today, so huge congratulations. Could you send your snail mail details, please?

Thank you!

Thank you all so much for dropping by



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