Nottingham-based author Clare Harvey has won The Romantic Novelists' Association’s Joan Hessayon Award for New Writers for her wartime novel The Gunner Girl, published by Simon & Schuster UK.
Harvey was presented with her award and a cheque for £1,000 at the RNA’s Summer Party, held yesterday evening (19th March) at the Royal Overseas League in London.
The book was chosen the winner following a unanimous decision from the judges. It was selected from 14-strong shortlist, made up of authors whose debut novels have been accepted for publication after passing through the Romantic Novelists’ Association New Writers Scheme. Each year 250 places are offered to unpublished writers writing in the romance genre.
Four titles on this year's shortlist were published by Accent Press. Other publishers that were in the running included Amazon Media, Choc Lit, Robert Hale, Crooked Cat Publishing, Endeavour Press, Carina and HarperImpulse.
RNA chair Eileen Ramsay said: “The Gunner Girl by Clare Harvey is a worthy winner; beautifully written, incredibly well-researched and with a 'can't put this down' quality.”
"A wartime drama, written from the heart", Harvey's story is about three teenage girl soldiers working on the anti-aircraft guns in wartime London, as inspired by the author's mother-in-law who worked as a gunner girl herself during the Second World War. It was written while her husband was away in Afghanistan with the British Army.
Harvey, born in Devon, lives in Nottingham with her husband and three children. She said: "This is the third time I’ve sent a manuscript through the NWS, and it’s third time lucky for me – I’m so thankful for the advice and support offered by the scheme and thrilled to finally have achieved my dream of being a published author.”
The Joan Hessayon Award is 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.
Pictured: Clare Harvey (right) with her editor, Simon & Schuster's Jo Dickinson.