Romantic Novelists' Association

Imogen Martin: Joan Hessayon Award Contender 2024

5 July 2024

Author Imogen Martin with her book Under a Gilded Sky

Cardiff author Imogen Martin is a contender for the Romantic Novelists’ Association’s (RNA) annual RNA Joan Hessayon Award for 2024 with her novel, Under a Gilded Sky. The award is for authors whose debut novels have gone through the RNA’s New Writers’ Scheme (NWS) and are subsequently accepted for publication.

Imogen writes sweeping, historical fiction set in the US. She has worked in a coffee-shop in Piccadilly, a famous bookshop and a children’s home. She has run festivals and turned a derelict housing block on one of the poorest estates in the UK into an award-winning arts centre. During 2020 Imogen was selected by Kate Nash Literary Agency for a mentorship programme designed to accelerate the careers of promising new writers. Married with two daughters, Imogen divides her time between Wales and Sardinia.

She commented, ‘I feel so honoured to be a contender for the Joan Hessayon Award. All authors want to be published “one day.” It is wonderful to have an award that marks that important milestone – and to be a contender this year amongst such brilliant debut authors. I started writing Under a Gilded Sky a month after the death of my daughter and finished the first draft a year later. It was a way of escaping into a different world at a time of grief. The book is dedicated to her.’

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 visit 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.

UNDER A GILDED SKY BOOK BLURB (Publisher: Storm Publishing)
In this epic and unforgettable love story, set in the wilds of Missouri and the glamour of high society Boston at the dawn of the Gilded Age, one woman’s life changes forever the day that a stranger turns up on her doorstep.