Romantic Novelists' Association

Shortlist Announced For The Joan Hessayon Award For New Writers

3 April 2018

We are delighted to announce the contenders for the 2018 Joan Hessayon Award for New Writers. The full list of contenders for 2018 is:

Mick Arnold, The Season for Love, Passion in Print

Donna Ashcroft, Summer at the Castle Café, Bookouture

Susanna Bavin, The Deserter’s Daughter, Allison & Busby

Cryssa Bazos, Traitor’s Knot, Endeavour Press

Hannah Begbie, Mother, Harper Collins

Anita Belli, The Traveller and the Rose, Endeavour Press

Lynn Forth, Love in La La Land, Crooked Cat

Erin Green, A Christmas Wish, Aria Fiction

Lisa Hill, Meet Me at Number Five, Choc Lit

John Jackson, Heart of Stone, Crooked Cat

Jane Lacey-Crane, Secrets and Tea at Rosie Lee’s, Aria Fiction

Zoe May, Perfect Match, HQ Digital

Sue McDonagh, Summer at the Art Café, Choc Lit

Kate Ryder, Summer in a Cornish Cove, Aria Fiction

Elaine Roberts, The Foyles Bookshop Girls, Aria Fiction

Tanya Jean Russell, Broken Trust, Evernight Publishing

Awen Thornber, Foxtrot in Freshby, Crooked Cat


The list is made up of authors whose debut novels have been accepted for publication after passing through the Romantic Novelists’ Association New Writers’ Scheme. The scheme enables unpublished authors to submit a complete manuscript for critique by one of the Association’s published authors, and to attend RNA events offering opportunities to meet and network with publishers, agents and other published authors.

Commenting on the contenders for 2018, RNA Chair, Nicola Cornick, said, “The RNA is particularly proud of its New Writers’ Scheme, which is unique to the association, and helps new writers on that difficult path to publication. In recent years we’ve had an excellent success rate and this year is no exception with seventeen debut novelists graduating from the scheme. Having read every last one of them, I’m delighted to see a new generation of talent being fostered by the scheme.”

The Joan Hessayon Award is generously sponsored by gardening expert Dr David Hessayon OBE, in honour of his late wife Joan, who was a longstanding member of the RNA and a great supporter of its New Writers’ Scheme. The scheme has been run by the RNA since 1962 and is unique among professional writing associations. It aims to encourage fresh talent in the writing of romantic novels that reflect all aspects of love and life, contemporary or historical. Imogen Howson, who co-ordinates the New Writers’ Scheme, commented, “It is wonderful to see debut authors graduating from the New Writers’ Scheme and we are ever grateful to Dr David Hessayon who continues to support the Awards in honour of his late wife, Joan.”


All eligible books are judged by a panel of experienced RNA members who are already published authors. This year we are delighted to welcome Emma Milne-White, owner of the award-winning Hungerford Bookshop, former COSTA book awards judge, and a director of Arts for Hungerford, as our final round judge.


The Award will be presented at the RNA Summer Party on Thursday 17th May at the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford. Tickets for the event are available here.