Romantic Novelists' Association

RNA Joan Hessayon Award Contender: Emma-claire Wilson – This Child Of Mine

13 July 2023

Photo of Emma-Claire Wilson wearing cream jumper and with blonde shoulder-length hairCover of This child of mine by Emma Claire WilsonDerbyshire-based author Emma-Claire Wilson, who lives in Hulland Ward, near Ashbourne, is a contender for the Romantic Novelists’ Association’s (RNA) annual RNA Joan Hessayon Award for 2023 with her novel, This Child of Mine. The award is for authors whose debut novels have gone through the RNA’s New Writers’ Scheme (NWS) and are subsequently accepted for publication.

Born in Scotland, Emma-Claire travelled the world as the child of military parents. After almost 20 years in Spain, she returned to the UK with her husband, two daughters, and rescue dog, Pip. Emma-Claire worked as a journalist for English language magazines and newspapers in Spain and in 2015 launched The Glass House Online Magazine. When not writing emotional fiction, you can find her dreaming up new book ideas or wrapped in a blanket with a book in her hand.

She commented, ‘The RNA and, in particular, the NWS, have been such an important part of my journey to publication, so to be a contender for the RNA Joan Hessayon award feels like a dream come true. I wouldn’t be where I am today if it weren’t for the support and guidance I have received from the people I met through the scheme so I am so proud to be one of the authors put forward for such a prestigious award.’

Melissa Oliver, the RNA Joan Hessayon Award organiser (and winner of the award in 2020), commented, ‘Many congratulations to the 2023 contenders of the prestigious RNA Joan Hessayon Award. The wide array of authors who have graduated from the brilliant New Writers’ Scheme and have secured publishing contracts this year is 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 2023 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. Previous winners include Jo Thomas, Charlotte Betts, Lorna Cook and Suzie Hull.

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.

The winner of the award will be announced during the Romantic Novelists’ Association’s annual conference Gala Dinner, which is being held at Imperial College, London on Saturday 12th August 2023.

THIS CHILD OF MINE (Publisher: Avon)

When Stephanie is told she’s pregnant and sick on the same day, she faces an impossible choice. If she carries her baby to term, she will almost certainly die. If she proceeds with treatment, her baby will not live. Her husband is telling her to save herself. What would you do?


Although not entirely autobiographical, This Child of Mine is inspired by Emma-Claire Wilson’s real-life experiences and tackles issues very close to her heart. Dealing with cancer during pregnancy is far from a unique situation, but it is still something not often discussed. With ‘a woman’s right to choose’ being debated widely at the moment, this story tackles the incredibly tough issue of how and when to put a mother’s health first, and asks the question ‘what is it that makes us mothers?’

The book was due to be published August 3rd – but interest since The Bookseller announcement has prompted the publisher to bring the date forward a month to July 6th.

Emma-Claire writes: ‘The day after The Bookseller announcement, Ed Sheeran and his wife announced that they had struggled with the same issue tackled in this book. The time to talk about this issue is now – so many mothers have dealt with these emotions alone, and I very much hope that this novel will help some to feel seen and understood, and maybe even be strong enough to talk about their own experiences. I am willing to discuss my own personal attachment to this story and the inspiration behind the novel if journalists are keen to discuss.’