Romantic Novelists' Association

Joan Hessayon Award Contenders 2018: Awen Thornber

5 April 2018

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, Awen, 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?

In my early 20s I had a few short stories published in magazines. Then as part of my job as a design consultant for a big craft company, I designed projects for the national craft magazines. Later I had a regular craft column in a Northern magazine. When I finished work ten years ago I went back to writing fiction. A short story was published in a magazine; then I had a few accepted for an anthology, and self-published  my own anthology, Threads of Awen, last year.

How many years were you a member of the New Writers’ Scheme and did you submit a manuscript each year? What came first, agent or publisher?

I joined the NWS for the first time in January 2016 and wrote Foxtrot in Freshby which I edited and submitted to Crooked Cat in March 2017.

If you do have an agent who is it that represents you?

I didn’t consider getting an agent. I thought I’d try submitting direct to publishers first.

How did you find your publisher?

I was delighted that Crooked Cat accepted me because I’d followed them and some of their authors for several years.

Do you have a contract for one book or more?

I signed for one book, although I do have plans for a few others in the series.

When was your book published?

The ebook was released on 6th December 2017. The paperback was available to buy about a month before.

Tell us something about your book

It is a romance woven with intrigue.

Gina locks her cheating boyfriend out of her house the morning after Boxing Day. With one person less paying towards her bills she decides to teach an Argentine tango class in her large lounge. She meets Chris when he helps move her furniture upstairs. Not long after that Gina is a victim of vandals and theft. It is a tale of falling in love without really knowing the person well enough to trust them when all is not as it seems. She needs to solve the mystery of the intruders and what it is that Chris is hiding from her.

Foxtrot in Freshby is a story of lies, misunderstandings, social issue and of course, dance.

What are you currently working on?

I have two pieces on the go at the moment. I’m editing a romance with magical realism and a romance with a paranormal theme which was my submission for this year’s NWS. (I’d renewed before I was accepted for publication).

What piece of advice would you give current members of the NWS?

I sent a first draft in as I hadn’t time to edit. A lot of my critique focussed on errors in grammar and sentence construction (run on sentences). So my advice is to edit it where possible and tighten it up so it makes it easier for the reader.

Find out more about Awen:




Congratulations, Awen, on graduating from the New Writers’ Scheme. Wishing you all the best in your career.