The Romantic Novelists’ Association Summer Party….well, as it had ‘summer’ in the title, it was of course raining! As I splashed my way from Covent Garden to the party venue at the Royal Overseas League, I was extremely glad that I’d been organised enough to bring a pair of emergency shoes for the party.
It was my first time at the RNA Summer Party, and it was all the more special as I was attending as a finalist for the Joan Hessayon Award. The Joan Hessayon Award is a prize for authors whose books have gone through the Romantic Novelists’ Association New Writers’ Scheme. It is awarded in memory of the late Joan Hessayon, who was a huge supporter of the New Writers’ Scheme. This year there were eleven finalists, including myself, for the award, and I was very proud to be among their number.
The Joan Hessayon Award 2017 nominees
We finalists arrived early for our official photo, and to have a chance to have a proper chat with each other. It was really nice to compare notes about our journeys to publication and to talk all things writing. Before long, the party was in full swing. As you can imagine at an event for romantic novelists, the room was full of interesting and lovely people. I was nearly hoarse by the end of the evening from all the chatting! I’m beginning to think this is just standard at RNA events (see my blog post after attending the RNA Winter Party.)
The Joan Hessayon Award ceremony was held early in the evening when everyone was armed with a glass of bubbly to toast the nominees. It was really wonderful to hear such nice things said about my book ‘Who Does He Think He Is?’ and I’m so honoured to have been a finalist. The overall winner was Kate Field with her novel ‘The Magic of Ramblings’, which I’m very much looking forward to reading.
I had a thoroughly enjoyable time catching up with old friends and making new ones. Thank you so much to the RNA committee for arranging the event, and also thank you to Dr David Hessayon for kindly sponsoring the award in memory of his wife.
Rewind the clock a few weeks, and on a busy day in the newsroom, I was delighted to receive an email informing me that I had been shortlisted for the Love Stories New Talent Award 2015 for my current work in progress, ‘Bouzouki Nights.’ Cue mad dash around to book leave, find a place to stay in London for the night and of course to purchase a new dress to wear for the ceremony (any excuse!)
Despite the best efforts of the British weather depositing the wrong kind of leaves on the train lines, I managed to make it to the Jewel Piccadilly in London, the location for the awards ceremony. My fellow nominees and I were welcomed with a wonderful combination of prosecco and cupcakes (what more could a bunch of authors need?!)
It was great to meet the other writers and to celebrate everyone’s successes. There can’t be many better ways of spending an afternoon than talking books with a bunch of fellow enthusiasts.
A selfie with Lisa Dickenson and my book camp buddy Holly Martin.
Although I didn’t win this time round, I was delighted to discover that I’d come runner up in the previous year’s New Talent Award at the Festival of Romance. I knew I’d been shortlisted, but as I was away on holiday at the time, I was unable to attend the ceremony and so never heard about my success!
After the glamour of the Love Stories Awards, it was on to the Romantic Novelists’ Association Winter Party in the glamorous setting of the Royal Overseas League. It was lovely to catch up with the friends I had made at the RNA conference in the summer. Once again there was fizz (are you spotting a trend here?) and lots of fun.
I returned to my hotel with aching feet and a hoarse voice, a price I was well prepared to pay for what was a great day out!
I’m over the moon to have been awarded second prize in the Ilkley Literature Festival Short Story Competition 2014 for my story Authentic Athens. It was a pretty exciting night being asked to read an extract out in front of an audience which included a Booker prize finalist, gulp! Fortunately they all laughed in the right places.
You can read the story here.
The competition was judged by Dreda Say Mitchell. Here’s what she had to say about Authentic Athens:
“A great opening scene nicely sets up our protagonist with a tense dilemma that needs solving. The setting of a prison cell really had me intrigued about where this story was going to lead me. It plays around with time structure so it starts at the end rather than the beginning. It is very funny, but under the layers of humour it deals with very serious and topical issues. Written in a fluid and confident style with characters that easily jump off the page.”