This Saturday, instead of winding DOWN, we're winding UP with a party courtesy of Jessica Hart!
Saturday night is party night … right? Actually, usually wrong in my case, as my weekends are not generally a giddy, glamorous whirl of social events, but I’m making an exception on 18th October when the much-trailed 50/50 celebrations (that’s 50 books and 50 years, for those of you who have cleverly managed to miss all the fuss I’ve been making about reaching these two milestones all year) finally reach a shuddering climax. It seemed to me I’d never have a better excuse for a party than the coincidence of turning 50 just when my 50th book is published, so I’ve invited everyone round to celebrate with champagne cocktails on the 18th – as you’re reading this, I’ll either be running around frantically dipping every glass in sugar and trying to decide to wear, or in the throes of it all, brandishing a bottle of champagne and revelling in all the attention … or (more likely) contemplating the debris on Sunday morning with a sinking heart , wishing I’d remembered to get in more Cokes (nothing beats it for a hangover!) and wondering when I’m ever going to be old enough to know better!
I’m thrilled, of course, that so many friends are coming round to celebrate with me, but I was thinking only last night what a shame it is that 100 of my closest friends won’t be there. No, I’m not that popular. I’m thinking about the 50 heroes and 50 heroines who have become part of my life over the last 20 years. My very first book, A Sweeter Prejudice, was published in 1991, but I started writing it in 1988 (another milestone … quick, let’s open another bottle!) That was Nick and Abby’s story, and they’d be right at the top of my fantasy guest list. The great thing about a fantasy party is that everyone would be able to come. Guy and Olivia would come from Willagong Creek- in fact, there’d be a whole contingent from Australia with 11 books set there – Blair and Amanda (Kissing Santa) and Torr and Mallory (Newlyweds of Convenience) would drive down from the Highlands, and Alice and Will (Barefoot Bride) would pop over from the Indian Ocean. They’d have lots in common with Lewis and Martha (Her Boss’s Baby Plan) and with Bella and Josh (A Whirlwind Engagement), who finally fell in love in the Seychelles. Deborah and Gil (A Sensible Wife) would be on leave from Indonesia, David and Claudia (Birthday Bride) would be about to head back to the desert …Yes, there’d be lots of well-travelled characters there. I’d love to talk to them all and find out where else they’ve been and what they’ve been doing since I last saw them.
The other great thing about this fantasy party is that I just know they’d all get on together. Although of course they are all individuals to me, my heroes and heroines certainly fall into recognisable types. There’s the strong silent hero (Gray, Nat, Cal …), the brusque businessman (Patrick, Gabriel, Tyler …), the irritable scientist (Keir, Rhys, Max …) and, of course, the laid-back, humorous hero with more charm than is good for him. So the likes of Gib, Jack, and Mac will be circulating, making sure everyone has enough to drink and making even the spikiest of heroines laugh while Seth and Leo talk business, Alice and Polly compare shoes and Thea admires Skye’s earrings …
Of course, when it’s a fantasy party, there are no limits to how many cases of champagne you can afford, so there’s nothing to stop me from inviting other characters from my favourite books by other authors. I’d have Myron Bolitar (Harlan Coben) and Jack Reacher (Lee Child) - actually, now I think about it, I wouldn’t invite Jack Reacher to a party, I’d have him round one night when I was all alone! – and Min and Cal from Jenny Crusie’s Bet Me. I was about to invite all my favourite characters from Georgette Heyer, but decided that would just be too unrealistic. Shame, though. Perhaps I’ll have them for dinner another time …
So if you haven’t been invited to a party this weekend, why not invite round your own favourite characters and have a fantasy party of your own? I can recommend champagne cocktails to get things going!
Congratulations to Jessica for fifty fabulous books - the celebratory title is LAST MINUTE PROPOSAL and is out NOW!