A CUMBRIAN author is a contender for the Romantic Novelists’ Association’s (RNA) annual Joan Hessayon Award for 2022 with her novel, Life's a Catastrophe.

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

Kirstie Pelling is a writer and journalist based in the Lake District. An award-winning travel blogger, she co-runs the adventure website The Family Adventure Project.

She has cycled thousands of miles across the world with her husband and children. She is also a travel poet for Go Lakes Travel and Lonely Planet Kids.

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Kirstie said: "The RNA's help and support has been invaluable over the three years I've been a member so I'm delighted to be a contender for this award. There's never been a more pertinent time to get lost in a rom-com and I'm very proud to be part of the talented tribe who write them."

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 subgenres.’

Sponsored by Dr. David Hessayon OBE in honour of his late wife, Joan, who was a novelist, RNA member and supporter of its New Writers’ Scheme, the award showcases a variety of debut novels within the romantic fiction genre.

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

The New Writers’ Scheme provides support to unpublished writers of romantic fiction. Manuscripts can be submitted for assessment and are critiqued by published authors. In addition, the members of the scheme can attend RNA events and participate in members-only activities and networking opportunities.

The ceremony to announce the winner will be held at 6.30pm on Saturday, July 16 2022 at Harper Adams University, Newport, Shropshire, as part of the RNA’s annual conference.