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, Lisa, 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’m one of those people who gets to the end of a good book and wonders what happens to the characters next so, in 2009, I took myself off to my local Creative Writing Class and the rest is history. Meet Me at Number Five is my first published manuscript.
How many years were you a member of the NWS and did you submit a manuscript each year?
I joined the NWS in 2010 and was genuinely encouraged by the positive feedback I received. Based on that feedback, I decided to rewrite the entire novel and submitted it again in 2011 and received further positive feedback. That particular novel didn’t gain much interest by agents or publishers and so I started a new novel, which became Meet Me at Number Five. There were a couple of years where my personal circumstances overruled my writing but I still took advantage of submitting a partial manuscript which was really helpful in developing the plot.
What came first, agent or publisher? How did you find your publisher?
Publisher. I entered the 2015 Choc Lit Search for a Star with my first ms which went through the NWS and came runner up to Lynda Stacey who won that year. Encouraged by the feedback from my NWS report, I entered the 2016 competition and won!
Do you have a contract for one book or more?
I have just had one book published with Choc Lit but I have recently signed a 2-book deal with Manatee Books, one for that very first ms which went through the NWS and one which I have yet to write.
When was your book published?
20 June 2017.
Tell us something about your book.
Grace Cavendish wants a family. She’s desperate in fact but just as she’s about to embark on IVF, husband Charlie casually announces he’s got another woman pregnant. Hennie Cavendish is renouncing men; after a string of disastrous dates, it’s the only sensible option, especially as soon as she mentions her children there’s an air of disinterest and that’s non-negotiable; her and the children come as a package. Clara Cavendish has a secret; she’s dying. But can she settle her affairs and see her granddaughters happy before it’s too late?
What are you currently working on?
I’m about to start edits on my ms set in the property world. Stay-at-home mum Lottie Hardwicke is Yorkshire’s answer to Kirstie Allsopp but can she salvage her career without wrecking her marriage in the process?
What piece of advice would you give current members of the NWS?
I’m sorry I need to give 3!
- Keep going – you will never get published if you don’t finish the book.
- Something is better than nothing – if you can’t complete the full ms by August, tidy up what you’ve got and send it off. Even a synopsis and three chapters can be appraised as to whether the story ‘has legs’.
- Develop a tough skin – you are going to get rejections and it is tough to put your self-esteem through it every time. Keep focused on the main goal of being published and that if you receive a rejection, it’s fine, because something even better is on the horizon.
Find out more about Lisa: