Romantic Novelists' Association

Helen Hawkins: Joan Hessayon Award Contender 2024

5 July 2024

Author of a concert for christmas

Burford author Helen Hawkins is a contender for the Romantic Novelists’ Association’s (RNA) annual RNA Joan Hessayon Award for 2024 with her novel, A Concert for Christmas. The award is for authors whose debut novels have gone through the RNA’s New Writers’ Scheme (NWS) and are subsequently accepted for publication.

Helen is a writer, editor, and English teacher. Her first attempt at novel writing was shortlisted for the Penguin Michael Joseph Christmas Love Story Competition and highly commended in the I Am In Print Romance Competition. When she is not writing, Helen can be found editing, singing, and dancing with her local musical theatre society, or running around with her daughter and partner at their home in Oxfordshire.

She commented, ‘Being a contender for the Joan Hessayon Award for New Writers is literally a dream come true. When I first discovered the Joan Hessayon Award (around the same time I first discovered the RNA), publishing a novel was something I had always hoped for and was in the middle of working towards. The contenders that year really inspired me, and the Joan Hessayon Award was something I decided to aim for there and then. I can’t believe I am now a contender!’

Melissa Oliver, the RNA Joan Hessayon Award organiser (and winner of the award in 2020), commented, ‘Many congratulations to the 2024 contenders of the prestigious RNA Joan Hessayon Award. The authors who have graduated from the brilliant New Writers’ Scheme to secure publishing contracts this year are not only a testament to the success of the scheme but also to the enduring appeal of the romance genre. Well done to all of you.’

RNA Chair, Jean Fullerton, added, ‘Congratulations to all of the 2024 contenders for the RNA Joan Hessayon Award for graduates of the most excellent New Writers’ Scheme. Once again, the judges have the almost impossible task of picking a winner due to the quality of the books.’

Sponsored by Dr. David Hessayon OBE in honour of his late wife, Joan, who was a novelist, RNA member and supporter of its New Writers’ Scheme, the award showcases a variety of debut novels within the romantic fiction genre. The novels are judged by a panel of published authors from the RNA and publishing industry professionals.

Established in 1962, the New Writers’ Scheme provides support to unpublished romantic fiction authors. Manuscripts can be submitted for assessment and are critiqued by published authors. In addition, the 250 members of the scheme can attend RNA events and participate in members-only activities and networking opportunities.

Previous graduates of the New Writers’ Scheme include Sue Moorcroft, Jessica Redland and Heidi Swain.

For more details about the New Writers’ Scheme please click here. 

The winner of the award will be announced during the Romantic Novelists’ Association’s annual conference Gala Dinner, which is being held at Royal Holloway, University of London on Saturday 10th August 2024.

Schoolteacher Sophie has fled to the Cotswolds after a tragic break-up and is throwing herself into organising Cranswell’s Christmas concert. The festive fun is marred by the arrival of a handsome but surly musical director and disaster strikes. Can Sophie bring harmony to Cranswell and end the year on a high note?