Wednesday, March 15, 2017

With great pride, the Board of Directors of M.M. Bennetts Award for Historical Fiction presents the list of semifinalists in the 2016 Competition.  The ten books selected span many themes, styles and time periods but share a common standard of excellence consistent with the work of M.M. Bennetts.  We have already begun work on the second round of judging. The fact that so many outstanding novels did not make the list is testimony to the quality of this year’s submissions. 
Books are listed by date of submission.

1.  Jane the Quene, Janet Ambrosi Wertman

2.  Carrie Welton, Charles Monagan

3.  Murcheson County, Rodney Page

4.  The Competition, Caroline Miley

5. In a Gilded Cage, Susan Appleyard

6.  The Devil's Chalice, D. K. Wilson

7.  Thy Children's Children, Diana Ross McCain

8.  The Prince of Glencurragh, Nancy Blanton

9. The Whale, Mark Beauregard

10. New Albion, Dwayne Brenna

We thank you all for your support and participation, and look forward to having you with us for 2017 competition.
Sincerely,

          The Board of M.m.Bennetts Award for Historical Fiction


Friday, February 3, 2017

Submissions for the 2016 M.m.  Bennetts Award are  Closed

Readers are still needed.

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

At Midnight PST,  Submissions of entries in the 2016 M.m. Bennetts Award will close.  We had several last minute submissions, and we need readers.  Check the List of Books by clicking the Book Choices menu bar above, and if you see anything that strikes your fancy or which deals with a period in which you have a special interest, email us at mmbaward@gmail.com and a copy will be sent to you.Don't miss a chance to be part of the selection process.

Sunday, January 1, 2017

Admission Deadline is January 31, 2017

The deadline for submission of entries in the 2016 M.m. Bennetts Award Competition is January 31, 2017, at Midnight, PDT. Please read the rules. A completed submission includes: 1) the documentary information as provided to the address on the Call forSubmission Post below; the payment of the $15 entry fee using the Paypal button at the bottom of the Call for Submissions Post;  and the submission of three Amazon Kindle gift vouchers addressed to mmbaward.com  as recipient in each, of the three copies of the book to be provided to the first round readers readers, or an email confirming you have posted paperback copies. Contestants who live where they cannot send e-books via Amazon.com (primarily in the UK), please email Linda Root at lindaroot8@gmail.com for special arrangements before the January 31st.deadline.

Friday, September 23, 2016

Call for Submissions 2016

We invite authors to submit their books of 60,000 words or more to be considered for the Third Annual M.M. Bennetts Award for Historical Fiction, given each year in memory of M M. Bennetts, author and historian, whose works set a high standard for scholarship and literary excellence.
Publication date must be 2016, verifiable on line at Amazon.

The winner will be awarded $500 and the M.M.Bennetts Award Scroll. The finalists will be notified in May. The winner will be announced in June 2017.

Requirements:
Books must be written in English, set at least fifty years in the past and will be judged on the basis of story quality, development of characters, excellence of writing and historical accuracy.
Self-published books are welcome.

Erotica, Fantasy, Young Adult and Children’s novels will not be accepted.

Submissions must be first editions, entirely the author’s original work. Authors may submit two books if both are published in 2016. Publishers can submit on behalf of their authors.

The Submission Fee is $15 via PayPal. (You don’t have to have a PayPal account.) Include the author’s name and book title(s) in the PayPal message box.  The address for payments is different than the one for submissions.  It is mmbaward@nep.net.

Please copy and reply to the questions below and email them to mmbaward@gmail.com after payment.

Please choose one of the following methods to provide copies of your book (the first method is preferred.):

1) Send three paid (gift) Kindle copies of your 2016 published book to mmbaward@gmail.com for the first round. A writer or publisher can download a manuscript to Kindle Direct Publishers free of charge and have a manuscript up and ready in a few days. If this is not possible, please use method 2.

2) Three PRINT copies may be sent if necessary. Email the board at the address below. Mailing addresses of assigned readers will be provided by reply email. You will not be given the names of the readers. Any message other than your name and the title of the book may disqualify the entry.
Authors must not contact assigned readers or judges. Judges' decisions are final. Your email address may be given to members of the Award organization for the purpose of conducting our business. It will not be shared elsewhere.

Please read this Call for Submissions carefully to be sure your novel qualifies before paying the fee and sending the materials. There will be no refunds.

All entries must be received by midnight PST January 31, 2017. Please enter as early as possible. Judge's questionnaires will be scored and comments saved. Submitting early will not be a disadvantage.

Members of the Board of Directors of the M.M. Bennetts Award for Historical Fiction, its committee members, its assigned readers and its judges may not submit.

Thank you for your interest.

Submission questions to be completed:
Author’s Name:
Publisher's name, or state if Self-Published:
Book Title:
ISBN:
2016 Publication Date:
Genre: Must be Historical Fiction
Sub-genre if any:
Era and location of the story:
Brief general theme of the story:
Purchase site url, preferably on Amazon
Confirm that the $15 Submission Fee has been paid

Submitting your novel indicates you agree to abstain from contacting the Award organization, its assigned readers and its judges regarding the decisions they make relating to the organization, the contest, and the outcome, and that you accept their decisions as final. Submission signifies acceptance of our rules as set out on this page and any changes the Board of Directors finds it necessary to post.








Call for Submissions 2016

We invite authors to submit their books of 60,000 words or more to be considered for the Third Annual M.M. Bennetts Award for Historical Fiction, given each year in memory of M M. Bennetts, author, and historian, whose works set a high standard for scholarship and literary excellence.
Publication date must be 2016, verifiable on line at Amazon.

The winner will be awarded $500 and the M.M.Bennetts Award Scroll. The finalists will be notified in May. The winner will be announced in June 2017.

What is Historical Fiction?:


Writers have inquired about the M. M. Bennetts Award's position regarding historical romance. Essentially it is this: If the story is merely set in the past but is principally a love story then it probably is not for us. If the historical aspect is of principal importance, showing deep research on the part of the author regarding the unique aspects of life in that period, we could be interested.

The subject matter need not be a historical event. It could be a love story. What is important to us is the vivid and accurate rendering of the past, a capturing of the times and the mindset that broadens our understanding and, ideally, brings us new insights applicable to the present.

Requirements:

Books must be written in English, set at least fifty years in the past and will be judged on the basis of story quality, development of characters, excellence of writing and historical accuracy.
Self-published books are welcome.

Erotica, Fantasy, Young Adult and Children’s novels will not be accepted.

Submissions must be first editions, entirely the author’s original work. Authors may submit two books if both are published in 2016. Publishers can submit on behalf of their authors.

SUBMISSIONS:  Please copy and reply to the questions below and email them to mmbaward@gmail.com after payment.
Please choose one of the following methods to provide copies of your book (the first method is preferred.)

1) Send three paid (gift) Kindle copies of your 2016 published book to mmbaward@gmail.com for the first round. We do not accept PDF, Smashwords, or Mobi files.  A writer or publisher can download a manuscript to Kindle Direct Publishers free of charge and have a manuscript up and ready in a few days. If this is not possible, please use method 2.

OR:

 If, and only if, you are a resident of the UK or any political jurisdiction that does not give you access to purchase Kindle books on Amazon.com,( as is the case in the UK, ) you may submit funds equivalent to the price of three Kindle  ebook copies of your book via Paypal just as when you paid the submission fee. Our submissions team will purchase the gift cards on your behalf. Be certain the add your name and the name of your book in the Paypal message.


2) Three PRINT copies may be sent if necessary. Email the board at the address below. Mailing addresses of assigned readers will be provided by reply email. You will not be given the names of the readers. Any message other than your name and the title of the book may disqualify the entry.
Authors must not contact assigned readers or judges. Judges' decisions are final. Your email address may be given to members of the Award organization for the purpose of conducting our business. It will not be shared elsewhere.

Please read this Call for Submissions carefully to be sure your novel qualifies before paying the fee and sending the materials. There will be no refunds.

All entries must be received by midnight PST January 31, 2017. Please enter as early as possible. Judge's questionnaires will be scored and comments saved. Submitting early will not be a disadvantage.

Members of the Board of Directors of the M.M. Bennetts Award for Historical Fiction, its committee members, its assigned readers and its judges may not submit.

Thank you for your interest.

Submission questions to be completed:
Author’s Name:
Publisher's name, or state if Self-Published:
Book Title:
ISBN:
2016 Publication Date:
Genre: Must be Historical Fiction
Sub-genre if any:
Era and location of the story:
Brief general theme of the story:
Purchase site url, preferably on Amazon
Confirm that the $15 Submission Fee has been paid

Submitting your novel indicates you agree to abstain from contacting the Award organization, its assigned readers and its judges regarding the decisions they make relating to the organization, the contest, and the outcome, and that you accept their decisions as final. Submission signifies acceptance of our rules as set out on this page and any changes the Board of Directors finds it necessary to post.






Tuesday, September 20, 2016

2016 submissions

Submissions will soon be accepted for works of historical fiction published in 2016

Friday, September 9, 2016

Interview of Stuart Blackburn, 2016 Winner

1) Congratulation on winning the M.M. Bennetts Award for Historical Fiction for your novel, Into the Hidden Valley! Did you plan a life in India as it turned out? Or what led you down that path?

I first went to India in 1970 as a Peace Corps Volunteer (similar to the British VSO). It was either that or go fight in Vietnam. When I applied, I said I’d like to go to Japan, not knowing that Japan didn’t need any ‘help.’ I was sent to south India, to train primary school teachers to teach English. I stayed for 2 ½ years, learned the Tamil language and my life was changed forever.


2) Did you think of being a writer as a child? Or when and how did the thought develop?

I’m not sure I think of myself as a writer, even now. For most of my life I was an academic, doing research and writing it up into books and articles. But the research was always the best part. When I retired some years ago, I wanted to write but wasn’t doing research, so I turned to India. I’m still learning how to write fiction, which is so rewarding because there’s so much to learn. You can improve day by day.


3) Please give us a brief idea of the story.

The book tells the story of two men—a British civil servant and an Apatani tribesman—whose lives intersect in late nineteenth-century India. These two men, the officer and the shaman, are brought closer and closer, until they meet face-to-face and become entangled in events that blight both their lives.
The novel explores the power and inadequacy of words, spoken and written. George, the British officer, documents events in notebooks and official reports, while Gyati, the shaman, is immersed in chants that describe the seen and unseen. The officer relies on his writing box and its tools; the shaman manipulates sounds and pieces of bamboo.
Another theme is concealment and its consequences. False family backgrounds are invented, protective spaces are coveted and shamanic language is deliberately confusing. Most importantly, lies are told and discovered, leaving a terrible burden of knowing the truth.


4) Do you feel you've had a personal connection to the native people of the valley? How has that affected your life?

Over a period of about ten years, beginning in 1999, I did various stints of research in the Apatani valley, recording oral stories and documenting ritual ceremonies. That’s how I got into the shaman’s world. I made some good friends, mostly among the many shamans in the Apatani community.


5) How long did the book take you from starting the specific research to final edits?

The whole process was nearly two years. I write slowly, a little each day. The research on the tribe and the shaman’s world had already been done, although I had to do new research on the colonial side of things, how one became an ICS officer and what life was like for these officers in India. It is amazing that so few British officials ‘ran’ the whole of the subcontinent, relying of course on a huge cadre of ‘native’ assistants. Of course, sometimes they didn’t run it very well, as we see in the novel.

6) I know you based some characters on real people. Did you do interviews of these people to guide the story line or just create on your own?

Well, I had known these people from my research and from our friendship, so, no, I didn’t do any special interviews when I embarked on writing the novel.


7) Did you have to bend history at all?

Yes, more collapse and foreshorten the chronology of the main events, all of which did occur. For example, the ‘massacre’ actually took place fifty years after the time I set it in the book. Those killings, however, were never recorded in official documents, and I only found out about them from oral history among the Apatanis. It was this discrepancy between oral and official history that inspired the events in the second-half of the book, the moral dilemmas and their resolution.
I also want to say that I wrote this book largely because this chapter of colonialism—the clash between the British and tribal groups—has rarely been told in fiction.


8) I know there is a change in publishers coming up. Will the book continue to be available on Amazon? Where else can it be purchased?

Currently, it is available on Amazon. It is also available from Speaking Tiger Books in New Delhi, who published the Indian edition. Unfortunately, the US publisher (Bygone Era Books) has gone out of business.


Sunday, September 4, 2016

Announcing the Winner of the 2016 Award!

We are pleased to announce that Parnel Bennetts presented the award for this year to Stuart Blackburn for Into the Hidden Valley at the HNS Conference in Oxford, England.

What could be more appropriate for a historical novel prize than an 'ancient' scroll? Nice of Stuart to have color coordinated for our picture.

Congratulations to Stuart.

We hope you will all read the books of our long and short listed authors found in earlier posts as well. To another great year of reading!

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Finalist Stuart Blackburn

Stuart Blackburn was born in Providence, Rhode Island and lived with his ever-westward moving family in Detroit and then Claremont (California), where he attended high school. He graduated from Wesleyan University in 1969 and soon entered the Peace Corps (one of the few remaining alternatives to serving in the military in Vietnam). Two and a half years in the rice fields and villages of south India, where he learned to speak Tamil, changed his life.

He completed his doctorate in Tamil language and international folklore from the University of California, Berkeley, in 1980, after which he took a teaching position at Dartmouth College, followed by other positions at Berkeley as well as a private high school in San Francisco. In 1994, he was offered a position at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), part of the University of London, where he remained until he took early retirement in 2003.

He is the author or editor of 16 books on Indian culture and folklore, mainly in south India (where his first novel, Murder in Melur, is set) and northeast India. One book, a study of shadow puppet theatre in Kerala, won the runner-up prize for the UK Folklore Book of the Year, while a translation of an early Tamil novel won the A.K. Ramanujan Prize in the United States.
He has received numerous grants, including a Fulbright and a Guggenheim. He was also the director of a five-year, multi-disciplinary grant to study Tibeto-Burman tribal cultures in northeast India, which provided him with the inspiration for Into the Hidden Valley.

In 1977, he married Judith Tarr, who accompanied him on several research trips, enduring heat, mosquitoes and bad food. Judith’s son (by her first marriage), Michael, has also spent many years in India, some of them with his mother and Stuart. Michael now lives in New Delhi, with his partner, the landscape architect Aditya Advani. Stuart’s obsessions include old films, Arsenal football club and organic food. He lives with his wife in Brighton, on the south coast of England.

Into the Hidden Valley explores a little-known episode in the colonial history of British India. While a great deal has been written about the British Raj, considerably less is known about the encounter between the British and the tribes of India. One reason for this is that the paper trail for tribal history is thin, but another is that tribal populations were generally dismissed as peripheral. Yet, the British and their Indian allies were engaged in constant, low-level warfare with tribes from the 18th century right up to Independence. Even today, armed struggles continue in parts of the country, especially the northeast, where the story is set. Many of the main events described in the novel are either true or based on true events, though I have manipulated the dates of some events to fit into the time-frame of my narrative.

This photograph from 1897 shows negotiations between British and tribal leaders (flanked by Indian soldiers) in the Apatani valley, which is the ‘hidden valley’ of the novel. This was the first official colonial contact with the valley, which remains isolated even in modern India.

The novel dramatises the colonial encounter with tribes by telling two stories, one of a British official and the other of a tribesman. I made the tribesman a shaman because he takes the reader into the mental as well as the physical world of the ‘hidden valley’ and highlights the contrast with the incoming culture. The fictional shaman (named Gyati) was inspired by a shaman of the same name with whom I worked during field research. In the photo below, he is shown holding a copy of the Indian edition of the novel. Gyati died in May 2016.


I first became interested in the Tibeto-Burman-speaking tribes of northeast Indi, when I went to Arunachal Pradesh (which had been part of colonial Assam) in 1999. I spent a large part of the next decade researching the cultures and oral traditions of one particular group, the Apatanis, who live in the ‘hidden valley’ of the story. Two of my monographs document their storytelling arts.


Into the Hidden Valley is published by Bygone Era Books (Denver) and by Speaking Tiger Books (New Delhi). It is available both on Amazon and from the publisher in India.