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Press Release: Prizes and Awards
Long List And Judging Panel Announced For The Romantic Novel Of The Year 2009

Posted at 8:05AM Monday 15 Dec 2008

The Romantic Novelists' Association today announced the long list for the Romantic Novel of the Year 2009. Whittled down from 156 submissions, a long list of 22 books up for the Romantic Novelists' Association award includes a number of lesser known authors as well as bestsellers, among whom are Cecelia Ahern, Harriet Evans, Victoria Hislop, Susanna Kearsley, Sophie Kinsella and Judith Lennox, who has previously been shortlisted.

The full long list can be seen on the RNA website at <> and the shortlist will be announced on January 13th.

Freya North, last year's winner of the Romantic Novel of the Year for Pillow Talk, sees winning the award as a career highlight and a real 'seal of approval'. Freya adds, "During the course of the year, messages of support and congratulations have continued to come in - from readers and the trade alike - and I'm proud to have won an award whose reputation is so widely acknowledged."

Organised by the Romantic Novelists' Association, the 2009 prize will be awarded at a lunch at the Royal Garden Hotel, Kensington on February 10th to coincide with Valentine's Day. Originally read and selected by a panel of 80 readers from all over the country, aged from 20 to 70, the long list will next be reduced to 6 novels by a panel of RNA members.

This shortlist then passes to 3 external judges who will select a winner.

Chairing the shortlist panel for 2009 is Alice O'Keeffe, Books Editor at the Bookseller since March 2008. She began her career as an Editorial Assistant at Book Club Associates, and rose through the ranks to Senior Fiction Buyer specialising in commercial women's fiction, before leaving to join the Books Team at Amazon.

O'Keeffe describes herself as a huge fan of the genre. "I was delighted to be asked to judge the RNA Romantic Novel of the Year Award. There are some fantastic authors writing in this area and we hope to honour the very best next February."

Assisting Alice O'Keeffe will be Fanny Blake, Books Editor of Woman & Home, and Peter Crawshaw, who runs

A publisher for many years, Fanny Blake edited contemporary fiction and general non-fiction before going freelance as a journalist and writer. She has written several bestsellers and also ghost-written for celebrities.

"Love is central to all our lives," Fanny says, "yet romantic literature is often dismissed as secondary to great fiction despite the fact that most classic literature we love features romance in all its guises, from Jane Eyre through Howard's End to Atonement. Well-crafted romantic fiction is eternally relevant and I'm excited to be a judge for this prize that draws attention to the best of the best."

Peter Crawshaw's great loves in life, he says, are technology and books, which passions have come together with Lovereading, "where we use the best of the net, and the best people, to make choosing books a joy." Peter spent around 15 years in large companies, including 5 years at Book Club Associates, as well as running his own marketing consultancy before starting Lovereading.

He said "Romantic fiction today is well observed, funny, sad, inspirational and a good read for either gender! The RNA has definitely moved with the times and the award is important in recognising this huge selling but much maligned genre of books."

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