Apparently there is a dearth of thrillers out there that don’t sensationalize violence against women, but one book contest is hoping to change that. As The Guardian reports, the first inaugural Staunch book prize will be awarded to works in the genre “in which no woman is beaten, stalked, sexually exploited, raped or murdered.” So you mean, a fantasy? Kidding, but you get my point.
The prize was founded by author and screenwriter Bridget Lawless, and she’s funding the £2,000 winnings herself. The winner of the contest will be announced on November 25, 2018, which also marks the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women. Nominations will be judged by a panel including Lawless, and actor/writer Doon Mackichan. Mackichan’s BBC Radio 4 documentary, Body Count Rising, highlighted the increase of violence against women on television.
“As violence against women in fiction reaches a ridiculous high, the Staunch book prize invites thriller writers to keep us on the edge of our seats without resorting to the same old cliches–particularly female characters who are sexually assaulted (however ‘necessary to the plot’), or done away with (however ingeniously),” Lawless wrote on the Staunch prize website.
Lawless told The Guardian she was inspired to create prize, after noting the number of BAFTA nominees that featured rape in the plot. “I thought, I can do one small thing. I thought I’d start with books. They are a source for so much material, and if I can have a tiny bit of influence there, it will help,” she said. “There are so many books in which women are raped or murdered for an investigator or hero to show off his skills… This is about writers coming up with stories that don’t need to rely on sexual violence… Is there no other story.” Touché, Lawless.
Nominations open on Feb. 22. Your move, Hollywood.