Independent publishers dominate Romantic Novelists' Association's Joan Hessayon Award for New Writers, with Choc Lit bagging three nominations.
Choc Lit titles The Thief’s Daughter by Victoria Cornwall, The Girl on the Beach by Morton Gray and House of Secrets by Lynda Stacey are all up for the prize which is run by the Romantic Novelists' Association.
Meanwhile fellow indie Accent Press boasts two books on the 11-strong shortlist: The Magic of Ramblings by Kate Field and Sitting Pretty by April Hardy. Other independent publishers have been nominated for the following three titles: Who Does He Think He Is? By Emily Kerr (Crooked Cat), Touched by Abbey MacMunn (Tirgearr Publishing), Castell’s Passion by Arabella Sheen (Beachwalk Press Inc).
Corporate publishers only make up three titles on the list: Perception by Terri Fleming, Jen Gilroy’s The Cottage at Firefly Lake (Grand Central's romance imprint Forever, owned by Hachette Book Group) and How to Win Back Your Husband by Vivien Hampshire (HarperCollins’ imprint HQ Digital).
The shortlist is made up of authors whose debut novels have been accepted for publication after passing through the RNA’s New Writers Scheme. Each year 250 places are offered to unpublished writers writing in the romantic fiction genre. As part of the scheme they can submit a complete manuscript for critique by one of the association’s published authors as well as attend RNA events which offer networking opportunities. The prize is sponsored by gardening expert Dr. David Hessayon OBE, in honour of his late wife Joan, who was a longstanding RNA member and a supporter of its New Writers' Scheme.
Eileen Ramsay, the association's chairman, said: "This year's list of contenders demonstrates an amazing depth and breadth of work from our debut RNA authors, and includes everything from historical regency romance through to funny, witty rom-coms. I am absolutely thrilled that we have another superb group of graduates from our New Writers’ Scheme, which is unique to our association. It’s fantastic to see this new talent being nurtured through to publication. Congratulations to everyone on the list.”
Immi Howson, who runs the scheme, said: “It is wonderful to see debut authors graduating from the New Writers Scheme. The scheme is a real testament to the support given to new authors by the RNA and the Joan Hessayon Awards is a great illustration of its value and success.”
The award will be presented at the RNA Summer Party on 18th May at the Royal Over-Seas League in London.
Nottingham-based author Clare Harvey won the prize last year for her wartime novel The Gunner Girl, published by Simon & Schuster UK.
The shortlist is as follows:
Victoria Cornwall The Thief’s Daughter (Choc Lit)
Kate Field The Magic of Ramblings (Accent Press)
Terri Fleming Perception (Orion)
Jen Gilroy The Cottage at Firefly Lake (Forever, Grand Central, Hachette)
Morton Gray The Girl on the Beach (Choc Lit)
Vivien Hampshire How to Win Back Your Husband (HQ Digital)
April Hardy Sitting Pretty (Accent Press)
Emily Kerr Who Does He Think He Is? (Crooked Cat)
Abbey MacMunn Touched (Tirgearr Publishing)
Arabella Sheen Castell’s Passion (Beachwalk Press Inc)
Lynda Stacey House of Secrets (Choc Lit)