I’ve been quiet recently, I know. During lockdown, I dedicated myself to my family and our mental wellbeing. My husband is a critical worker, and hasn’t had a day off since February. So, I took on the tasks of homeschooling my four year old and eight year old. I took on the tasks of cleaning and maintaining our home. I cooked and shopped and made sure our lives were as orderly and happy as could be during unusual and distressing circumstances.
I’ve written a little, I’m happy to say. Outlined a new book, cracked on with book 4, and completed a new, somewhat different manuscript (of which I’ll talk more later…)
Today, I do have some news to share though. My novel, The Marked Lord, is a contender for the 2020 Joan Hessayon Award.
This makes me happy for many reasons, but the first and foremost one is that this award is a celebration of love. The award itself, (which I think was formerly the Netta Muskett award, but I’ll need to fact check that) is named for Joan Hessayon, who was a brilliant romance novelist. Joan met her husband David in Paris in 1949 (the city of love) and they were married for fifty years before her death in 2001.
I love the story of how David and Joan met, and of how he was so determined to marry her that he followed her back to her native US. I love that he set up this award in his wife’s name, so that her memory would continue, year after year, while celebrating the work of new authors. This award defines and celebrates love from every angle you look at it.
The list of contenders this year is amazing, and I’m lucky to call so many of the authors featured my friends. Kathleen Whyman is hilarious, with the most infectious smile you’ll ever come across, and her book has been long-looked forward to since she first described it to me at an RNA event two years ago (*falls over*).
Lucy Keeling is a delight, and for such a petite woman, she has a soul and comedic touch of massive proportions. I’ve read both her novels, and laughed like crazy through both of them (and like me, she’s filthy minded, which makes me adore her even more).
Jacqueline Rohen is on the list too, for her debut novel How to Marry your Husband. I never met Jacqueline (she lived in Uganda at a rescue centre for chimpanzees which she poured her heart and soul into) and sadly I never will, as she passed away a week before her book was published. If I could choose a winner this year, I would pick her. She never saw her book published, that amazing moment when you can see your work in the flesh. She should be remembered this way, through this award… because her book is wonderfully touching, and all about second chances (my favourite trope) and love triumphing over all.
And isn’t that what the Joan Hessayon award is about, after all?
I’m honoured to be on this list, and very much looking forward to congratulating the winner.
Many thanks, as always, to the wonderful RNA and also to the wonderful Janet Gover (friend, writer extraordinaire, fellow Australian and efficient NWS organiser), and absolutely, without a doubt, to Dr David Hessayon and the memory of his wife and love of his life, Joan.