Day wins Joan Hessayon Award with 'incredibly accomplished' debut

Day wins Joan Hessayon Award with 'incredibly accomplished' debut

Author Caroline Day has won the The Romantic Novelists’ Association’s (RNA) Joan Hessayon Award for new writers.

Day scooped the £1,000 prize with her debut novel Hope Nicely’s Lessons for Life (Zaffre). The novel is a coming-of-age story about loneliness and friendship and follows central character Hope as she decides to make sense of her life through writing a book. 

Award judges Laura Longrigg from MBA Literary Agency, writer and chair of Authors North Rhoda Baxter, and Sara-Jade Virtue, fiction brand development director at Simon & Schuster, were unanimous in their decision. 

They called it “a powerful novel and incredibly accomplished for a debut”.

"It is a challenging read, and although not a traditional romance, it is a book filled with love,” they said. "Hope captured our hearts with her heart-warming, at times funny and always brilliantly clear, character voice.”

The book was selected from a list of 11 contenders, all authors whose debut novels had been accepted for publication after passing through the RNA's New Writers’ Scheme.

Each year, unpublished authors are invited to join the scheme which allows them to participate in conference sessions and provides opportunities to network and meet industry professionals and other authors. They are also invited to submit their work in progress for a critique by one of the association's published authors.

RNA acting chair Jean Fullerton said: “Funny in places and poignant throughout – I defy anyone not to be impressed by Caroline Day’s debut novel.”

The Joan Hessayon Award is sponsored by gardening expert Dr David Hessayon in honour of his late wife Joan, who was a longstanding member of the RNA and a supporter of its New Writers’ Scheme.