The six debut novels vying for the Romantic Novelists’ Association’s (RNA) Joan Hessayon Award for New Writers for 2024 have been announced.

The Award is sponsored by Dr. David Hessayon OBE in honour of his late wife, Joan, who was a longstanding RNA member and supporter of its New Writers’ Scheme. Established in 1962, the New Writers’ Scheme provides support to unpublished romantic fiction authors. Previous graduates of the New Writers’ Scheme include Sue Moorcroft, Jessica Redland and Heidi Swain.

Organiser of the award, Melissa Oliver (and winner in 2020) congratulated the contenders and commented ‘The authors who have graduated from the brilliant New Writers' Scheme to secure publishing contracts this year are not only a testament to the success of the scheme but also to the enduring appeal of the romance genre. Well done to all of you.’

RNA Chair, Jean Fullerton, added, ‘Congratulations to all of the 2024 contenders for the RNA Joan Hessayon Award for graduates of the most excellent New Writers’ Scheme. Once again, the judges have the almost impossible task of picking a winner due to the quality of the books.’

Judged by a panel of published authors from the RNA and publishing industry professionals the shortlist for 2024 is as follows:

A Concert for Christmas by Helen Hawkins

The Near Miss by Lily Joseph

Christmas with the Lords by Hannah Langdon

Under a Gilded Sky by Imogen Martin

The Wedding Hitch by Claire McCauley

Claire Morris is Completely Lost by Kristina Thornton

The winner of the award will be announced on Saturday 10th August during the Romantic Novelists’ Association’s annual conference Gala Dinner, which is being held at Royal Holloway, University of London.

For more information about the Romantic Novelists’ Association, please visit their website:

For more details about the New Writers’ Scheme please visit: