AN AUTHOR from Weymouth has been shortlisted for a national award that recognises new writers.

Laura James, 47, from Preston, is just one of the contenders to be nominated for The Romantic Novelists’ Association (RNA) prestigious Joan Hessayon Award.

Her romantic novel Truth or Dare?, which is partly set in Weymouth and Portland, was published by Choc Lit, as an e-book. It is a dark, gritty tale of passion and obsession, and knowing when to do the wrong thing for the right reasons.

Mrs James said: “I’ve always written, from poetry, to songs, and have always been a fan of romance.

“To be shortlisted for the Joan Hessayon Award is lovely and an honour as it recognises the work gone into the book.”

Mrs James signed up to the RNA writers’ scheme and was then selected for the award, which welcomes unpublished writers of romantic fiction in all genres.

She said she first read about the RNA on the back of a Jill Mansell book, a British author of romantic comedy.

“I was in hospital to get my left wrist plated because of suffering with rheumatoid arthritis and I had my hand in plaster for six weeks. Luckily I’m right handed and the inspiration I got from reading the Jill Mansell book, Good at Games inspired me to write Truth or Dare?”

The new Writers’ Scheme has been running for over 50 years. They advise and support authors whose novels are nearly ready to be submitted to a publisher or agent.

“I had to submit mine twice, but I got some excellent feedback and got noticed by publishers Choc Lit, who I really wanted,” she added.

When asked how Mrs James would celebrate if she won the award she said: “I’ll be celebrating with my family and might head out to do a bit of karaoke. But after that it’s head down and straight into writing my first paperback Follow Me, Follow You. She will find out if she has won The Joan Hesayon award, at the Royal Over-Seas League in London on May 22.