We are delighted to introduce you to the seventeen authors contending for the coveted Joan Hessayon Award in 2018. Before the winner is announced at the RNA’s Summer Party in Oxford in May, you can find out more about each of the authors here.
Welcome to the RNA blog, Jane, and congratulations on being one of the contenders for this year’s award. How long have you been writing? Is this your first published piece?
I’ve been writing for as long as I can remember, I always loved to make up stories and I have old school exercise books full of my first stories. The minute my English teacher told me she thought I was good, I just started scribbling and never really stopped but this is my first novel. I had some short stories published a few years ago and I’ve written scripts for TV documentaries in the past, but the novel was always the big dream.
How many years were you a member of the NWS and did you submit a manuscript each year?
I joined the NWS in January 2017, so I’ve only been a member for a year! I’m very lucky that my first book through the NWS has been accepted for publication.
What came first, agent or publisher?
I have a publisher (Aria Fiction) but no agent.
How did you find your publisher?
As I didn’t have an agent, I submitted my manuscript to every publisher I could find that took unsolicited submissions in my genre. I submitted to Aria through the submissions portal that they have on their website. It’s great, because once you have submitted and set up your author account, you can see how far up the pile your manuscript is. It’s a much nicer experience than just sending your manuscript out into the ether with no idea what, if anything, is happening to it!
Do you have a contract for one book or more?
My contract with Aria is for 3 books! I still have to pinch myself about that!
When will your book be published?
My book is due for publication on 1 May 2018.
Tell us something about your book.
My book, Secrets & Tea at Rosie Lee’s is a contemporary romantic drama, set in the East End of London. It’s the story of Abby, a single parent only just on the right side of forty, who’s dealing with a failing business and the prospect of her only child leaving home and going to university. As a single parent, Abby is terrified of what the future holds for her once she’s by herself. Throw in the return of her first love, and the discovery that her family has been keeping secrets from her for most of her life, and you have the recipe for a romantic drama that I hope readers can really get drawn into.
What are you currently working on?
I’m currently working on book 2. It’s about a woman struggling to move on with her life after past traumas. She meets an old friend, a man who has become something of a Hollywood sex symbol since their time at college together! (I’m not naming names but that’s something I have some experience of – they do say write what you know!) He offers her the chance of a new life, but will she have the courage to take it? It’s set in London and New York – my two favourite cities – and I’m hoping I might be able to convince my other half to take me back to New York for a research trip!
What piece of advice would you give current members of the NWS?
I feel like a bit of a fraud, offering advice to other writers. Everything happened so fast for me in 2017 I still feel like I’m the one that needs advice!! But if I could tell NWS members one thing it’s to take full advantage of being part of the RNA. Not just the New Writer’s Scheme – which is probably the most important thing I’ve ever done for my writing career – but also the events and connections and people you can meet. I live in a small town and the opportunities to meet like-minded, if slightly odd, people like me was limited. Being part of the RNA has meant that I’ve met some of the most amazingly supportive people who don’t think I’m weird for wanting to sit at my desk and write about other, fictional, people’s lives.
Find out more about Jane: