RONA Awards 2022 Celebration Drinks with… Amber Crewe

RONAS

Tonight we are back with the shortlistees in the Jane Wenham-Jones Award for Romantic Comedy category in this year’s Romantic Novel Awards. Nominated for her novel, That Jewish Thing, I am joined by author… Amber Crewe.

Amber Crewe, Jane Wenham-Jones Award for Romantic Comedy, Romantic Novel Awards 2022

Amber, welcome to the blog and thank you for joining me for drinks this evening. First things first, what are you drinking?

An elderflower cordial spritz! 

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If we weren’t here in my virtual bar tonight, but were meeting in real life, where would you be taking me for a night out?

We’d be heading to the Prince Charles Cinema in Leicester Square for a cheesy singalong experience, followed by hiring a private karaoke room in Soho. We would only be allowed to sing songs from the nineties (don’t expect to have any voice left the next morning)

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You will sincerely regret asking me to sing, although I do know the lyrics to a lot of nineties songs! If you could invite two famous people, one male and one female, alive or dead, along on our night out, who would we be drinking with?

Anne Boleyn, because I reckon she’d need to let off some steam and would be a riot to get drunk with, and Bang Chan from the Kpop group Stray Kids, because he’d watch our drinks and make sure we’d all get home safely afterwards. 

So, now we’re settled, tell me what you are up to at the moment. How and why did you start it and where do you want it to go?

I am awaiting edits back on my latest project. Every book I write gets closer and closer to something truthful in my life, and without spoiling anything, this is the most personal book yet. I’m anxious to get it right. It’s another romance, but it has a meaning and a mission too. I want the right people to find it.  

Intriguing! What has been your proudest moment since you started writing and what has been your biggest challenge?

Proudest moment: being able to write the names of people I love in the acknowledgments of my books, and then seeing their faces when they realise. I find it hard to express affection sometimes, so this is a very real way I can let people know how much they mean to me. 

Biggest challenge: the gap between my two children’s books, and publishing my first romance as Amber Crewe. I didn’t know if my writing would ever be published again. When my agent called to tell me about the offer of that deal, I was scared she was calling to let me go as a client! Getting through that time, maintaining belief in myself and what I wanted to do, was tough when the world seemed to constantly be giving me hints to give up. 

What is the one big thing you’d like to achieve in your chosen arena? Be as ambitious as you like, its just us talking after all!

As much as I’d love to see one of my books come to life on screen, I also want to write directly for the screen too. I want to tell stories with as wide and broad an audience as possible, and make people happy that way. I lot of people I love aren’t readers (for various reasons, including being neurodiverse and struggling to focus on words on a page for long periods) but that doesn’t mean they don’t enjoy great stories, and I want to write for everyone. 

What are have planned that you are really excited about?

It may sound bleak but I really don’t have anything planned in my life right now. The world has been really scary, and making any sort of plans feels a kind of brave I’m not ready to be yet. But I have some leave from my day job coming up, and once Spring really hits I want to go to the seaside. A day trip to see some friends and smell the sea air. It’s a tiny thing, but it’s a start after a very reclusive couple of years. 

I love to travel, and I’m currently drawing up a bucket list of things I’d like to do in the future. Where is your favourite place that you’ve been and what do you have at the top of your bucket list?

I was so overwhelmed when I visited Vienna that I had a panic attack! There was too much to do and see and I couldn’t figure out where to start, so just had a meltdown instead! I was only there for a couple of days as part of a much larger trip, but I’m yearning to go back and explore. 

Top of my bucket list is the Spanish town of Girona. I was meant to go there on holiday in what transpired to be the third week of the first lockdown. The holiday that never was! 

Ah, I love Vienna, a beautiful city. Tell me one interesting/surprising/secret fact about yourself.

I have a form of alopecia that has left my hair very thin in places. Over the last year I’ve embraced wearing wigs and they’ve changed my life.

Books are my big passion and central to my blog and I’m always looking for recommendations. What one book would you give me and recommend as a ‘must-read’?

A Long Way to a Small Angry Planet by Becky Chambers. It’s sci-if, but the focus is on emotional connections and empathy. The kind of book that makes you feel truly happy to be alive, and gives you hope in everything, despite all the bad things in the universe. 

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When Rosemary Harper joins the crew of the Wayfarer, she isn’t expecting much. The ship, which has seen better days, offers her everything she could possibly want: a small, quiet spot to call home for a while, adventure in far-off corners of the galaxy, and distance from her troubled past.

But Rosemary gets more than she bargained for with the Wayfarer. The crew is a mishmash of species and personalities, from Sissix, the friendly reptillian pilot, to Kizzy and Jenks, the constantly sparring engineers who keep the ship running. Life on board is chaotic, but more or less peaceful – exactly what Rosemary wants.

Until the crew are offered the job of a lifetime: the chance to build a hyperspace tunnel to a distant planet. They’ll earn enough money to live comfortably for years… if they survive the long trip through war-torn interstellar space without endangering any of the fragile alliances that keep the galaxy peaceful.

But Rosemary isn’t the only person on board with secrets to hide, and the crew will soon discover that space may be vast, but spaceships are very small indeed.

So, we’ve been drinking all evening. What is your failsafe plan to avoid a hangover and your go-to cure if you do end up with one?

Didn’t I tell you? My drink is non-alcoholic! I have a condition that affects my heart so can’t drink alcohol I’m afraid (otherwise I’ll be really poorly). Although to be honest, as an extroverted autistic person, a night out even when sober can leave me completely drained and brain-foggy the next day. When I know I’m going to be exertion-hungover I just make sure I have all my favourite snacks to hand, close my blinds and hunker down under my weighted blanket. I watch a lot of romantic Korean dramas, and I’ll find a good one to get lost in for the day (the kind where it takes five episodes for the main leads to even hold hands for the first time!). A fail safe method to end up feeling restored and ready to face the world again! 

After our fabulous night out, what would be your ideal way to spend the rest of a perfect weekend?

See above! I’m a cosy bird. One night out and I’m pooped for a week! Let’s watch old music videos on YouTube and order pizza!!! 

Sounds great, I’m in! Thanks so much for joining me, I have had a great evening and added a new book to my TBR!

Amber’s RONA-shortlisted novel, That Jewish Thing, is out now in all formats and you can buy a copy here.

Amber Crewe, Jane Wenham-Jones Award for Romantic Comedy, Romantic Novel Awards 2022, That Jewish Thing BOOK COVER

Tamsyn Rutman is at yet another wedding, for yet another cousin. She wouldn’t mind – the food’s pretty good, the location is fabulous and there’s a moderately famous singer crooning away – but what is a Jewish wedding if not the perfect opportunity for the bride to do a bit of matchmaking on behalf of her single, workaholic cousin? Tamsyn’s not at the table with her parents and her family, she’s sitting next to Ari Marshall.

Ari is everything Tamsyn doesn’t want for herself, and everything her family want for her. Stubbornly determined not to fall into the trap of someone else’s happily ever after, Tamsyn decides to focus on work, and while interviewing London’s hottest new chef, finds herself being swept off her feet . . . by someone her family definitely wouldn’t approve of.

But somehow, Ari and Tamsyn keep crossing paths, and she’s about to find out that in love, and in life, it’s not always easy to run away from who you really are…

Amber Crewe is the romantic alter-ego of Nicole Burstein, who lives in North London with her family, multiple bichon frises, and a tortoise. In the past, Nicole has worked as a gallery attendant at the Natural History Museum, a bookseller for Waterstones, a warden at Buckingham Palace, and used to present the travel and traffic news on various radio stations, including LBC and local BBC radio. She is currently working as a customer support manager for a fintech company called GoCardless. Nicole is a keen watcher of romantic Korean dramas, is a little too obsessed with rollercoasters, and has three Blue Peter badges.

Connect with Amber:

Twitter: @NicoleBurstein

Instagram: @bursteinnicole

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