Staying in with RNA Joan Hessayon Award Contender Jennifer Bibby

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 Jennifer Bibby to stay in with me to chat about The Cornish Hideaway 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The New Writers’ Scheme provides support to unpublished writers of romantic fiction.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.


Luton author, Jennifer Bibby, is a contender for the Romantic Novelists’ Association’s (RNA) annual Joan Hessayon Award for 2022 with her novel, The Cornish Hideaway. 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 Jennifer Bibby

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

It’s been a real treat to be invited along, so thank you.

You’re very welcome. Tell me, which of your books have you brought along to share this evening and why have you chosen it?

I’ve bought along my debut novel The Cornish Hideaway because it’s the perfect summer escape. With all the predicted travel chaos, it means you can while away an evening in Cornwall without leaving your sofa / garden. With these light evenings its certainly reading outside weather.

That sounds just perfect. I think we could all do with an easy escape!

What can we expect from an evening in with The Cornish Hideaway?

Well, as it’s about Freya fleeing from the collapse of her life in London following failing her Masters degree and her boyfriend dumping her you can expect the usual sort of commiserations over heartbreak – wine, cake and good company with her friend and café owner Lola. By the end of the night your spirits will definitely be lifted and if Lola gets out her tarot cards then you may have a glimpse of what is waiting for you in your future.

So is The Cornish Hideaway all girls?

No, don’t expect it to just be a night in with the girls, you’ll probably find local retired fisherman Alf and his dog Scruff coming along to dish out some advice. But watch out – Scruff will definitely be after your cake!

Scruff sounds like a ‘person’ after my own heart!

Everyone has loved their journey to The Cornish Hideaway and hanging out with the Polcarrow crew so I’m sure you’ll also have a wonderful time. I’m over the moon with how well the novel has been received.

I’m delighted to hear that Jen. What else have you brought along and why have you brought it?

You couldn’t have a night in with The Cornish Hideaway without having a cream tea, Lola wouldn’t hear of it! Freshly baked scones, clotted cream and sticky strawberry jam, the works!  Since we’re also celebrating being a contender for the Joan Hessayon award I also think it’s only fitting that we crack open a bottle of fizz, don’t you?

I do indeed! Fizz and a cream tea – you’re talking my language! Thank you so much for staying in to chat about The Cornish Hideaway 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 Cornish Hideaway Escape for myself and I’ll just give readers a few more details: 

The Cornish Hideaway

All Freya has ever wanted to do is paint. So when she fails her Master’s Degree in Art, on the same day that her boyfriend decides he needs a ‘more serious’ partner, to Freya it feels like the end of the world.

Luckily, she has a saviour in the shape of best friend Lola, who invites her to the sleepy Cornish village of Polcarrow, to work in her café. With nothing keeping her in London, Freya jumps at the chance of a summer by the sea.

Freya needs time to focus on herself. But then dark and mysterious biker Angelo blows into town on a stormy afternoon, with his own artistic dreams and a secretive past, and Freya’s plans of a romance-free summer fly straight out of the window…

Heart-warming, heartfelt and romantic, The Cornish Hideaway is a novel of community, friendship and learning to love again, for fans of Jenny Colgan, Cathy Bramley and Heidi Swain.

Published by Simon and Schuster on 22nd March 2022, The Cornish Hideaway is available for purchase through the links here.

About Jennifer Bibby

As a lifelong lover of stories, Jennifer Bibby spent her teenage years wowing various teachers with her historical epics before finding her feet exploring the everyday lives of modern women through literature. In addition to being a bibliophile she loves classy cocktails, cake and medieval history. She’s happiest by the sea and loves to travel, and firmly believes that dinosaurs improve everything. The Cornish Hideaway is her debut novel.

For more information, follow Jennifer on Twitter @jennyfromthewr1 and Instagram.

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