TWO AUTHORS from Dorset are among the contenders for a national award for new talent in the writing of romantic novels.

Victoria Garland from Wimborne, and Fiona Woodifield from Christchurch have been shortlisted with 13 other authors for The Romantic Novelists' Association's prestigious Joan Hessayon Award.

The contenders for this award are all authors whose debut novels have been accepted for publication after passing through the Romantic Novelists’ Association New Writers' Scheme.

Scottish born Wimborne resident Victoria Garland has been put forward to the award after publishing her first novel Finding Prince Charming, published by DC Thomson.

Victoria said: “I'm absolutely thrilled to be shortlisted for the Joan Hessayon Award.

“Joining the RNA New Writers' Scheme was the best thing I ever did.

“I had such a lot of fun writing Finding Prince Charming and have made a lot of friends along the way.”

Fiona Woodifield’s love of Jane Austen's novels began as a teenager, leading to her writing a thesis about the 18th century novelist and a magazine article ' published in 'Jane Austen's Regency World Magazine’.

Fiona said that she is “incredibly excited and honoured” that her first book The Jane Austen Dating Agency, published by Bloodhound Books, has been nominated for the Joan Hessayon Award.

She added: “I could never have dreamt that this might be possible back in 2017, when I was writing this, my first novel.

“I am extremely grateful to the fantastic RNA New Writers' Scheme, which provided excellent feedback and encouragement, helping me to fulfil my lifelong dream of becoming a writer.

“I would thoroughly recommend other new writers to join and take advantage of this wonderful opportunity."

The Joan Hessayon Award is generously sponsored by gardening expert Dr. David Hessayon OBE, in honour of his late wife, Joan, who was a longstanding member of the RNA and a great supporter of its New Writers’ Scheme.

The winner of the Award will be announced on 5th September 2020.

Commenting on the contenders for 2020, Alison May, RNA Chair, said: “The New Writers’ Scheme is at the heart of the RNA’s commitment to nurturing romantic authorship and the celebration of the Joan Hessayon shortlist is a highlight in the Association’s year.

“This year has been different for so many reasons, but we’re still delighted for all these debut novelists and excited to announce our Diamond Joan Hessayon Award winner in this, our 60th Anniversary year.”