Last Thursday, 20th September, 200 guests joined us at Stationers' Hall here in London, to celebrate the 2018 Wilbur Smith Adventure Writing Prize at London’s Stationers’ Hall. The evening was generously sponsored by Bruce Jack Wines, from their Bonfire Hill vineyards.
We are delighted to reveal the winners of the 2018 Wilbur Smith Adventure Writing Prize as:
BEST PUBLISHED NOVEL: £15,000
A Necessary Evil by Abir Mukherjee (Vintage)
BEST UNPUBLISHED MANUSCRIPT: £7,500 Writer’s Adventure Research Award
Blood in the Dust by Bill Swiggs (Australia)
AUTHOR OF TOMORROW, IN PARTNERSHIP WITH WORLDREADER: £1,500 and digital publication
The Death of a Soldier by Alice Cox (age 14)
AUTHOR OF TOMORROW, SPECIAL COMMENDATION, IN PARTNERSHIP WITH WORLDREADER: £1,000 and digital publication
The Prince’s Gem by Mariam Wallace (age 16)
Providing a space for writers across the world, the Prize celebrates diversity on a narrative and cultural level. Although unable to attend the celebrations due to a book launch in Italy, Scottish-Indian writer Abir Mukherjee, winner of the Best Published Novel, shared his gracious acceptance of the Prize via video and his trophy was collected by one of his Penguin Random House publishing team, Noor Sufi.
Abir reflected on the importance of promoting writing from a range of social and cultural perspectives, noting that novels by writers of different backgrounds “help open our eyes and help dialogue and understanding between different viewpoints [...] showing new generations that deep down, we’re not that different”. We completely agree!
The award for Best Unpublished Manuscript went to Australian writer Bill Swiggs for his debut, historical adventure Blood in the Dust. The novel follows brothers Toby and Patrick O'Rourke, whose world is changed forever when their parents are murdered, forcing them to attempt a new beginning on the goldfields of Ballarat.
The author has received the Writer’s Adventure Research Award, a £7,500 travel grant for him to travel to research his next novel and Kate Parkin, Executive Director of Adult Fiction at Bonnier Zaffre has acquired world rights to publish the novel. Parkin said:
“We believe in the power of adventure writing and are absolutely delighted to be partnering the Wilbur Smith Unpublished Manuscript Award. In an exceptionally strong and diverse field of contenders, Bill Swiggs’s Blood in the Dust stood out for the pace of its storytelling, the strength of its characters and the brilliant historical setting. We will be publishing Bill’s novel next September and are very proud to have him on the Bonnier Zaffre list."
A new generation of adventure writers joined us at the ceremony - our Authors of Tomorrow.
The five shortlisted writers, aged from 12-21 years old, have seen their stories digitally published in partnership with Worldreader, a charity on a mission to make everyone a reader through technology.
The winner of the Author of Tomorrow award, Alice Cox (age 14), impressed the judges with her time-travelling adventure The Death of a Soldier, a story combatting fascism from a feminist perspective. The surprise award of the evening, a special commendation awarded personally by Wilbur and Niso Smith, went to Mariam Wallace (age 16) for The Prince’s Gem, a traditional quest-story set in Ancient Egypt, a setting home to many of Smith’s own adventures.
Thank you to everyone who joined us on the night. Our congratulations to the winners and equally, all the writers on the shortlist. Long may the adventures continue!