Thursday, 11 June 2009

Romantic evening

Congraulations to Farahad Zama, winner of the third Melissa Nathan Award for Romantic Comedy for his book The Marriage Bureau for Rich People. Farahad gave a brilliantly unromantic acceptance speech last night – ‘I’d like to thank my wife, mostly for not getting in the way’ – and is a fantastic example to all those who say they would love to write a novel but haven’t got the time, as he produced his novel while holding down a full time IT job in the City, writing 300 word chunks during his daily commute.

The awards ceremony was held in the fabulously rococco and romantic setting of the CafĂ© de Paris - all velvet, gilding and twinkling chandeliers and the comedy came from the equally fabulous Jo Brand. I used to edit Jo’s column in The Independent but sadly I have absolutely no funny anecdotes to pass on, because Jo’s copy was consistently accurate, punctual, the correct length and very, very funny. An editor’s dream in fact. I'm sure she wouldn't remember me at all because generally all I had to say to her was 'Thank you!'

Melissa Nathan, who died aged just 37 three years ago, was the best-selling author of international hits like The Nanny and The Waitress. She was also my sister’s sister-in-law, which means we were jointly aunts to the same children. Her books were always much more than ‘just’ hilarious comedy or ‘just’ heart-melting romance, but showed fully rounded characters struggling with all aspects of their lives, especially their careers - with plenty of acutely accurate social commentary along the way.

I’ve really missed Melissa’s advice and guidance as I’ve set out to try and write books. She was and is a real inspiration, and well done to her husband Andrew Saffron, family and friends for creating the awards and also the Melissa Nathan Foundation in her name.

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