Historical novel wins the Joan Hessayon Award

Tuesday 24 May 2011

Debut novelist Charlotte Betts won the Joan Hessayon Award at the Romantic Novelists’ Association’s Summer Party in London last night. 

Charlotte was honoured by the RNA for her novel The Apothecary’s Daughter (Piatkus –  Little, Brown) which won the Joan Hessayon Award. The award is given to a writer whose first published work has been through the RNA’s New Writers’ Scheme.

‘I’m honoured, amazed and delighted,’ said Charlotte when the winner was announced.  Later she expressed gratitude to all the RNA readers who had seen her earlier unpublished novels and offered her valuable advice.  ‘I couldn’t have done this without them.’

The scheme, which has been run by the RNA since 1962, is unique among professional writing associations. It aims to encourage fresh talent in the writing of romantic novels that reflect all aspects of love and life, contemporary or historical. Manuscripts submitted by unpublished writers are read by an experienced writer or editor who provides valuable feedback. Any manuscript that is subsequently published as a debut novel is eligible for the award. The eligible books are judged by a panel of experienced RNA members.

Annie Ashurst, the RNA’s chairman, presented Charlotte with her prize. She said of the Joan Hessayon Award, ‘it is the jewel in the RNA’s crown,’  and added, ‘but all the shortlistees are winners of course because they have all got contracts from publishers.’ 

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

The other debut novels eligible for the 2010 award were:
Paula Williams:  A Place of healing (My Weekly Pocket Novel)
Molly Hopkins: It Happened in Paris (Little, Brown)
Sally Clements: Catch Me A Catch (Wild Rose Press)
Kate Jackson: Second Chances (People’s Friend Pocket Novel)

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It's a fact

The movie adaptation of EM Hull's romantic novel The Sheik, published in 1919, established Rudolph Valentino as the top male actor of his time.