Thursday, 27 April 2017

Joan Hessayon Contenders 2017; Arabella Sheen
Today we welcome the second of the contenders for the Joan Hessayon award.

Welcome to the RNA blog, Arabella, and many congratulations on being one of the contenders for this year’s award.

How long have you been writing - Is this your first published work?
First came the reading and then, in my head and in my heart, I’ve been plotting and writing contemporary romance since secondary school. The moment I realised I was compelled to read entire sections of romantic fiction in the school’s library, I knew I was hooked on the genre. From reading about heroine's and hero’s I wanted to write about them. It’s taken a long time to achieve that goal; travel, work and everyday life got in the way, but finally the words are being written.
Castell’s Passion is the first novel I’ve published with a traditional publisher, and it’s been an amazing experience. The feedback and professional comments my lovely editor, Pamela Tyner of Beachwalk Press hurled back at me, has, in my humble opinion, not only made Castell’s Passion shine, it has also had a constructive effect on the way I now plot and write.
With two other contemporary novels―Temporary Bride and Blinded by Desire―under my belt, I hope to keep on going and publish lots more in the not too distant future.      

How many years were you a member of the NWS and did you submit a manuscript each year?
I was a member of the RNA-New Writers’ Scheme for two years and submitted a novel in each of those years.
Castell’s Passion was my first submission to the NWS. And when the call came from the organiser for a completed manuscript, I eagerly printed off a hard copy, placed it into a bubble-squeak envelope and posted my inexperienced scribbles to the RNA for assessment. The wait was nail biting but it was worth it. The critique I received from the reader was encouraging and for me that was all I needed. Someone had confidence in my “newbie” writing and it gave me the boost I needed to continue.
After a couple of chapter tweaks and a subplot or two added here and there, Castell’s Passion was proofread and the long and challenging process of submitting to publishers began.
There were long delays before any replies to my manuscript queries arrived, but in the meantime I kept writing and preparing my second novel for the NWS annual submission.

What came first, agent or publisher?
Having written Marc and Kate’s story, I realised a publisher was needed but the idea of seeking agent representation for Castell’s Passion hadn’t yet enter my head. I was still under the impression that only “proper” authors and artists had agents.
Educated in the error of my ways, my latest manuscript is searching for a home and is being emailed to literary agents in the hope of finding representation. However, I’ve been forewarned―a contract with an agent is a rare and valued commodity…and it is seldom given.
One can always hope.

If you do have an agent who is it that represents you?
The answer to this question is―no agent, as yet.
That’s two things to include on my shopping list…the ever illusive publicity manager and the perfect literary agent. Or perhaps they are one and the same.

How did you find your publisher?
I have some supportive author friends on my Twitter and Facebook pages. We message one another quite regularly and when they discovered my manuscript had been completed and I was searching for a great publisher, a few publishing houses were suggested and Beachwalk Press was among them.
I’ve found Beachwalk Press to be a perfect fit for the sensual style of contemporary romance I write and with an ever growing list of readers, I’m happy.

Do you have a contract for one book or more?
Castell’s Passion is a standalone single title. However, my publisher handles sequels…so watch this space.

When was your book published?
After an amazing teamwork effort of editing, proofreading and cover image selection, the book went live in August, 2016.

Tell us something about your book 

When writing Castell’s Passion it was as if the book had a life of its own. It evolved, spilling onto the page as I wrote. Marc and Kate relationship deepened as they travelled together from London to Paris, and then on to Cannes. And after an explosive parting, they met again on the exotic Îles d'Hyères in the south of France and they realised their love and passion for one another was long lasting. It couldn’t be denied.
I love the way Marc respects Kate’s emotional needs above his own desires. And the HEA ending…well, even I got a bit teary-eyed.



What are you currently working on?
At the moment I’m working on a sensual contemporary romance and I’ve more or less reached the halfway mark. It’s a billionaire romance set in the UK. A power struggle is going on between the hero and heroine; and not wishing to reveal too much about their sophisticated lifestyle or their aspirations and inner conflicts, they both have goals and ambitions to achieve―but this could all change at the drop of a hat.
I’ve been known to cancel a wedding, kill off the mother-in-law and delete two chapters, just because the story unexpectedly headed off at a tangent.
So the WIP is just what it is…a work-in-progress.

What piece of advice would you give current members of the NWS?
Join a local RNA Chapter group. The support and writing tips that are aired and shared during these meetings are invaluable.
I love my BathWiltsRNA Chapter ladies (guy’s welcome), and it was through this group that I discovered the existence of the RNA-New Writers’ Scheme

Links:
Facebook:  @ArabellaSheenAuthor
Twitter:   @ArabellaSheen


Thank you, Arabella. Congratulations again on graduating the New Writers’ Scheme and I hope you enjoy the Summer Party.


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