Jo Thomas has won The Romantic Novelists' Association’s (RNA) Joan Hessayon Award for new writers with her debut novel The Oyster Catcher (Headline).
Thomas was presented with her award and a cheque for £1,000 at the RNA’s Summer Party, held today (22nd May) at the Royal Over-Seas League in London.
The novel was originally published as an e-only edition by independent Accent Press, and earlier this year Headline acquired rights. Headline will release The Oyster Catcher in paperback on 6th November.
The award was judged by RNA chair, Pia Fenton, and vice chair, Sue Moorcroft, together with adjudicator and former RNA chair Anthea Kenyon. They chose between a record 17 shortlisted titles by authors from the UK and abroad.
Set in rain-soaked Galway in Ireland, the The Oyster Catcher features runaway bride Fiona Clutterbuck. When she crashes her honeymoon camper van and is too embarrassed to go home, Fiona ends up working on an oyster farm for the wild and unpredictable Sean Thornton.
The judges said of the winning novel: “The sense of place in this charming tale is superb, and the reader really feels as though they are there in that godforsaken village with the constant rain. A truly wonderful read!”
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 supporter of its New Writers' Scheme.
Last year’s winner was Liesel Schwarz with A Conspiracy of Alchemists (Del Rey, Ebury Press).