Staying in with RNA Joan Hessayon Award Contender Alex Stone

Having been a recipient of a Romantic Novelists Association Media Star award in the past, I’m delighted to feature contenders for this year’s Joan Hessayon Award here on Linda’s Book Bag. Today I’m delighted to welcome Alex Stone to stay in with me to chat about The Perfect Daughter which has been shortlisted for the award.

First, let’s find out more about The Joan Hessayon Award:

The Joan Hessayon Award

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. 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The New Writers’ Scheme provides support to unpublished writers of romantic fiction.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 16th July 2022 at Harper Adams University, Newport, Shropshire, as part of the RNA’s annual conference.


Bournemouth-based author, Alex Stone, is a contender for the Romantic Novelists’ Association’s (RNA) annual Joan Hessayon Award for 2022 with her novel, The Perfect Daughter. The award is for authors whose debut novels have gone through the RNA’s New Writers’ Scheme and are subsequently accepted for publication.

Staying in with Alex Stone

Welcome to Linda’s Book Bag Alex and thank you for agreeing to stay in with me.

My pleasure, there’s nothing better than staying in to talk about books!

Good point! So tell me, which of your books have you brought along to share this evening and why have you chosen it?

I’ve bought my debut psychological thriller, The Perfect Daughter, which is a contender in the Joan Hessayon Award 2022. How exciting is that?!?!

Very exciting indeed! Congratulations. What can we expect from an evening in with The Perfect Daughter?

An evening with The Perfect Daughter will immerse you in the complex mother/daughter relationship between Jess and her mother, Abigail. It’s a thought-provoking thriller, where, as one Amazon reviewer put it: ‘the reader is kept guessing as to whether Jess is a reliable narrator or not – she’s not even sure herself’.

That sounds brilliant. Tell me more about Jess.

On the surface, Jess is seemingly the perfect daughter with a great boyfriend, Adam. But when Adam is declared missing, presumed dead, the police start asking if Jess is really as perfect as she seems. Her relationships with her mother, Adam and her past boyfriends all come under scrutiny.

It’s been described as ‘a stunning piece of writing with a message,’ which is just amazing to hear. I really wanted this novel to highlight the difficulties of family relationships and raise awareness of the impact of controlling and narcissistic behaviour.

You must be thrilled with that reaction Alex.

I’ve been stunned by the overwhelming response to The Perfect Daughter. Amazon reviewers have said The Perfect Daughter was a real page turner as truth and lies spiral together for a fascinating plot’. And the ‘characters get under your skin, grinding your teeth on the edge of your seat on their behalf… This book brings you every emotion.’

That’s quite a review!

What else have you brought along and why have you brought it?

I’ve bought along a photo of Anvil Point in Dorset. The Perfect Daughter is set on the stunning Dorset coast. Jess lives in Bournemouth and so Bournemouth beach gets a lot of attention throughout the novel, but the key scene takes place here, at Anvil Point. It’s where Adam’s van crashes over the cliff into the sea below, and Jess’s life comes unravelled.

Oo. I’m planning on heading to Dorset in the motorhome very soon. Sounds like The Perfect Daughter might be just the book to take with me – though I hope we don’t roll off a cliff! Thank you so much for staying in to chat about The Perfect Daughter and all the very best with the RNA Joan Hessayon Award. Whatever happens, you’ve done brilliantly to get this far. I look forward to reading The Perfect Daughter for myself and I’ll just give readers a few more details: 

The Perfect Daughter

Jess Harper has spent her whole life trying to make her mum, Abigail happy and proud. And everything Jess does, from the clothes she wears, the job she has, the men she dates, are all approved by Abigail first.

The perfect boyfriend…

So when Jess announces that she has a new man in her life – plumber Adam – Abigail is less than impressed. ‘A plumber? Really, Jessica….’ Adam encourages Jess to break free from her mum’s manipulation, can’t she see what’s happening?

The perfect mother….

But Abigail is only doing these things to keep Jess safe, to protect her from getting hurt again…isn’t she?

Or the perfect liar?

Jess, caught in the middle, doesn’t know who to believe or trust. And then Adam vanishes without trace.

Now Jess is the police’s prime suspect and they want to know if Jess really is as perfect as she seems….

Published by Boldwood on 19th October 2021, The Perfect Daughter is available for purchase here.

About Alex Stone

Alex Stone is an accountant from the West Midlands, who uprooted her life to pursue her dream of living by the sea and becoming a writer. She is proof that if you stick at it, anything is possible, and is now a psychological thriller author based in Dorset. This beautiful and dramatic coast is the inspiration and setting for her novels.

Alex has a keen interest in psychology, and her novels examine how situations in the past can shape a person for the better and the worst.

Her debut novel, The Perfect Daughter, has been described as; ‘cleverly written, powerful, shocking, and totally believable.’

Her second psychological thriller, The Other Girlfriend, is out on 28th July 2022 in all formats; ebook, paperback, hardback and audiobook.

For more information, visit Alex’s website, follow her on Twitter @AlexStoneAuthor or find her on Facebook and Instagram.

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