How did it start?
The Staunch Book Prize was launched to make space for an alternative to the overload of violence towards women in fiction. While women in the real world are fighting sexual abuse and violence, being disbelieved when they report rape or assault, or being murdered because they’re women, the casual and endless depiction of women as victims or prey sits uneasily alongside their fight. While real rape survivors struggle to be heard and counted, fictional rape victims take the stage – usually as two-dimensional characters – in stories that celebrate the cunning (often, charming sexiness/astonishing brutality) of serial rapists and the dogged brilliance of detectives.
Not everyone feels the same about depictions of violence, of course, and everyone is entitled to their opinion, but since this prize was announced, a huge number of people have contacted us to tell us they agree, that it is long overdue, that they’ve given up on thrillers altogether – and that they can’t wait to read the shortlisted and winning novels.
For this audience in particular, but for readers everywhere, we invited thriller writers to keep us on the edge of our seats without resorting to the same old clichés – particularly female characters who are sexually assaulted (however ‘necessary to the plot’), or done away with (however ingeniously).
What were we looking for?
We weren’t just looking for thrillers that feature men in jeopardy instead of women, but for stories in which female characters don’t have to be raped before they can be empowered, or become casual collateral to pump up the plot. Stories that feature a woman in a strong leading role were even more welcome. But as long as the main criteria were followed, any thriller novel was eligible for entry.
We focused on thrillers because they’re a huge and important genre in their own right – and frequently also source material for film and television. We wanted to show not only readers, but producers, directors and actors that there are amazing, complex thrillers being written today by authors with truly fresh ideas, great imagination and brilliant plotting skill.
What happened next..?
We were overwhelmed by the number of entries we received over five months from all around the world. Published and unpublished writers sent in their work with thrillers of every genre represented. Some came directly from the authors themselves, some from publishers who have embraced the idea wholeheartedly. Then the hard work of reading and forming a shortlist began.
Everyone loves Staunch!
Well, no, not everyone does. It must be said we have our detractors! Some outspoken members of the crime fiction world have been particularly set against the Staunch Book Prize and its aims. Mainly because that genre deals more than any other with the rape and murder of women. We’ve engaged in live debates, been the subject of angry articles, been trolled on Twitter and talked about behind our backs. All of which has helped carry news of the prize around the globe and enabled us to reach a much wider audience. So thank you to everyone who has contributed to the ‘debate’!
Watch this space for news of the six amazing shortlisted authors and their thrillers!
Submissions were welcomed from publishers, agents or writers for thrillers that had been traditionally or self-published (print or e-book) FOR THE FIRST TIME within 18 months of the closing date, or which had not been published yet.
The competition was open to authors of any nationality who would be over the age of 18 at the closing date of the Prize. All submissions had to be in English.
THE SHORTLIST WILL BE ANNOUNCED ON 1ST NOVEMBER 2018
The winner will be announced and the prize awarded on 26th November 2018, at an evening event at Sony House in Golden Square, London. This date is chosen to honour the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women held on 25th November every year.
A small number of places are available for press and publishers wishing to attend. Please send your request via the Contacts page.