The contenders are all authors whose debut novels have been accepted for publication after passing through the Romantic Novelists’ Association’s New Writers’ Scheme. Each year 300 places are offered to unpublished writers in the romantic fiction genre. As part of the scheme, they can submit a complete manuscript for critique by one of the Association’s published authors as well as attend RNA events which offer opportunities to meet and network with publishers, agents and other published authors.
This year’s debuts show the wide range of stories encompassed by the romance genre, from the romantic comedies to fairy-tale romance, romantic suspense, historical stories and paranormal thrills.
The idea for writing A Mistletoe Miracle came to Emma when she visited Alfriston with her partner and one-year-old to watch them turn on the lights. The one-year-old is now eight.
In Emma’s novel, a cosy hotel in a snow-covered village should be the perfect setting for Christmas but for Beth, returning to her childhood home after a break-up, it looks more like a festive fiasco. Between mince pie emergencies and disgruntled guests, Beth needs to find a miracle under the mistletoe this Christmas.
Emma said, “It’s wonderful to be a contender for the Joan Hessayon Award alongside other NWS graduates. Without the Elizabeth Harrison bursary I wouldn’t have been able to attend the RNA Conference last year, where I heard about Orion Dash and was encouraged to submit my manuscript by the supportive writers I met there, and through the association throughout my first year as a member.”
Alison May, RNA chairman, said,: “The New Writers’ Scheme is at the heart of the RNA’s commitment to nurturing romantic authorship, and the celebration of the Joan Hessayon shortlist is a highlight in the Association’s year. This year has been different for so many reasons, but we’re still delighted for all these debut novelists and excited to announce our Diamond Joan Hessayon Award winner in this, our 60th anniversary year.”
Vice-chairman Imogen Howson added: “In the midst of uncertain times, it’s immensely encouraging to see a record number of contenders this year for the Joan Hessayon Award. It speaks so well, not only of the hard work and talent of the authors themselves, but of the continuing health of the publishing industry.”
The award will be announced on September 5 in an online presentation.
The Joan Hessayon Award is sponsored by gardening expert David Hessayon, in honour of his late wife, Joan, who was a longstanding member of the RNA and a great supporter of its New Writers’ Scheme.
The New Writers’ Scheme has been run by the RNA since 1962. It aims to encourage fresh talent in the writing of romantic novels.