Jayne Hall, Kate Johnson (winner) Jacqui Cooper

The Romantic Novelists’ Association (RNA) has recognised the imagination and creative writing ability of Essex based Kate Johnson. Kate was presented with the coveted Elizabeth Goudge Trophy at the Association’s annual conference in Sheffield.

Each year delegates to the conference are invited to anonymously submit an entry for the Elizabeth Goudge Trophy. This year the text submitted had to be the opening chapter of an as yet unpublished novel, and no more than 2,000 words. The theme proposed by Pia Fenton, Chair of the RNA, was ‘ice’. Open to published and unpublished authors alike this year’s entries numbered twenty-five.

Kate, who lives near Stanstead, submitted Tiger Stripes the first chapter of a sci-fi/fantasy adventure story. The judges, Pia Fenton and Sue Moorcroft, Vice Chair of the RNA, were both impressed and said, “The story was full of humour. There was serious chemistry between the two main protagonists from the word go. Kate’s dialogue was brilliant and sassy. Her chapter presented an intriguing imaginary future world and made great use of the ‘ice’ theme. She really made you want to read on immediately – we loved it.”

Kate received her winner’s trophy, which she keeps for a year, during the glamorous conference gala dinner.

Commenting on her success Kate said, “The inspiration for the story came from a television programme where the presenter was talking about an ice moon. I forgot all about it until I saw the theme for the Elizabeth Goudge Trophy and it popped into the front of my mind. It was only a few days before the deadline that I realised I had little time left to enter and I wrote my entry pretty quickly.

“I was amazed to win. I never win anything, not even raffles. I was astonished when my name was called out – and delighted. A friend won it last year and she’s now published so I’m hoping that the trophy will be a good luck charm for me too!”

The runners up were Jayne Hall and Jacqui Cooper with Ice Men and Wrong Direction respectively.

Jayne based Ice Men on the premise of a feminist future where men who aren’t needed are temporarily frozen and can be defrosted when necessary. In a world ruled by women men are forced to go underground if they want to escape a frozen fate.

Wrong Direction from Jacqui Cooper is a paranormal story with magical elements. A young woman has just discovered that she is not who she thinks she is and goes in search of her roots in a remote Scottish village. She arrives in the middle of a snowstorm and what she finds is not at all what she’d expected! The judges commended Jacqui on a seriously freaky twist at the end – which surprised them.

Pia commented, “All of the entries were intriguing and extremely inventive in the use of the ice theme. It wasn’t an easy task to come to a decision, but Kate’s entry had that something extra that made it stand out from the rest.”


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