First and foremost, this is SO much NOT A MOAN! The delightful Hannah Begbie duly won for “Mother” and spoke very movingly on accepting the award. I’ve already pre-ordered “Mother” and will be reading it as soon as it comes out in August.
But, for me – we were ALL winners on the night. I would say to all those on the New Writers Scheme, YOUR turn will come. You will get published sooner or later, and when you do, you too will be up for the Joan Hessayon Award.
This is, of course, both this year’s winner, Hannah, and last years winner, Kate Field. Those who were there will long remember their speeches. Both moving and affecting; they touched a chord in all of us.
Speaking personally, being in Oxford for the Award Ceremony – as well as the Summer Party, crowned a super year for me. It “set the seal” on the year, and to get the public recognition from my peers (peeresses?) in the RNA. A key life moment, I think, at least as far as my career as an author goes.
Writing a book are such a personal thing, and writing one and getting it out to press, be it conventionally or independently published, is such a strain, with disaster and rejection waiting at every turn, that finally, to be able to deliver your first “baby” to a high level of approval, and to acknowledge the unbelievable support and help given by the RNA members, friends and the New Writers Scheme readers (and not forgetting Immi)
There were four of us who are published by Crooked Cat at the party, and three of us up for the Joan Hessayon. Me, Sarah Stevenson, Awen Thornber and Lynn Forth.
Oxford was memorable in so many ways. While not so accessible for some, to have it in the Ashmolean Museum atrium was yet another highlight. The museum caterers seemed to do us proud with canapes and glasses of bubbly, and it was a really good “collegiate” feeling to buddy-up with all the other contenders for the award. Again, the word “contenders” seems to imply we were competing against one another. I certainly didn’t feel like that. We really were ALL winners on the night.
We also had the comforting presence of Marte Lundby Rekaa and her expertly-wielded camera. Its great to get professional quality pictures that we can use without restrictions. As I’ve always said – I take snaps, but Marte takes pictures!
Some members of the New Writers Scheme may be unaware of the Hessayon name. The late Joan Hessayon was a long-time member of the RNA and a great supporter of the New Writers Scheme. The award is given in her memory, and is sponsored by her husband, Dr David Hessayon. If you have ever been into a Garden Centre, you will have seen his books on display. For many years they have formed an outstanding series of “Expert Guides” and have achieved world-wide sales figures that most of us can only dream of. Just Google Amazon and Hessayon, and you will get a host of results.
Those nominated for the Joan Hessayon Award receive a cheque. I have already cashed mine. That’s the Winter Party and almost all my train fare taken care of! RNA parties are ALWAYS worth going to and I can’t think of a better use for the money.
Next up? Conference!