A SALISBURY author is in the running for a literary award for her debut novel.

Laura R Leeson has been shortlisted in the Romantic Novelists’ Association’s (RNA) annual Joan Hessayon Award for 2022 with her novel, The Valentine Retreat.

The award is for authors whose debut novels have gone through the RNA’s New Writers’ Scheme and are subsequently accepted for publication.

Laura said: “I think I’m still in shock. When I typed the first tentative words of this novel, there was no way I could have imagined it would lead me to this point.

“The Valentine Retreat was my way of exploring some of the difficult personal relationships I saw in those close to me, a way of changing them into something entertaining and positive.

“To be a contender for this award is absolutely amazing and I owe so much to the wonderful support I have received from being a part of the RNA.”

The novels are judged by a panel of published authors from the RNA and industry professionals. Previous winners include Jo Thomas, Charlotte Betts, Lorna Cook and Caroline Day.

Melissa Oliver, the organiser of the Joan Hessayon Award and winner of the award in 2020 added: “As a previous winner, I know first-hand that this prestigious award champions and recognises newly published authors who have graduated from the RNA’s fabulous New Writers’ Scheme.

"It’s a fantastic achievement and this year the depth and variety of the books up for the award are a testament to the continuing appeal and popularity of romantic fiction and all its sub genres.”

The ceremony to announce the winner is on Saturday, July 16 as part of the RNA’s annual conference.


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