Friday, September 1, 2017

The Winner of the 2016 M.M. Bennetts Award for Historical Fiction Is....

The M. M. Bennetts Award for Historical Fiction is very pleased to announce that our winner for books published in 2016 is:

The Whale: a Love Story by Mark Beauregard

The Whale was chosen from three finalists. The other finalists were
The Competition by Caroline Miley and New Albion by Dwayne Brenna.

The three books are available on Amazon:

The Whale: A Love Story

The Competition

New Albion

A big congratulations to Mark!

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Finalist Mark Beauregard

Mark Beauregard has been a motorcycle journalist, gourmet ice cream manufacturer, film archivist, funeral home attendant, and university professor. As a fundraiser, he has helped raise millions of dollars to support nonprofit arts and community service organizations in Tucson, Arizona, where he lives. Before writing novels, Mark performed in nightclubs as half of the comedy team Blind Rage & Nick, and he still juggles occasionally out of nostalgia. In addition to The Whale: A Love Story, he has published five novels under the name Mark Zero. He has lived in many places throughout the United States and Europe.


The Whale: A Love Story

A rich and captivating novel set amid the witty, high-spirited literary society of 1850s New England, The Whale offers a new window on Herman Melville's emotionally charged relationship with Nathaniel Hawthorne and how it transformed his masterpiece, Moby-Dick.

In the summer of 1850, Herman Melville finds himself hounded by creditors and afraid his writing career might be coming to an end. His last three novels have been commercial failures, and the critics have turned against him. In despair, Melville takes his family for a vacation to his cousin's farm in the Berkshires, where he meets Nathaniel Hawthorne at a picnic and his life turns upside down.

The Whale chronicles the fervent love affair that grows out of that serendipitous afternoon. Already in debt, Melville recklessly borrows money to purchase a local farm in order to remain near Hawthorne, his newfound muse. The two develop a deep connection marked by tensions and estrangements, and feelings both shared and suppressed.

Melville dedicated Moby-Dick to Hawthorne, and Mark Beauregard's novel fills in the story behind that dedication with historical accuracy and exquisite emotional precision, reflecting his nuanced reading of the real letters and journals of Melville, Hawthorne, Oliver Wendell Holmes, and others. An exuberant tale of longing and passion, The Whale captures not only a transformative relationship--long the subject of speculation--between two of our most enduring authors, but also their exhilarating moment in history, when a community of high-spirited and ambitious writers was creating truly American literature for the first time.

Finalist Caroline Miley

Caroline Miley is an art historian and writer with a long-time passion for art, the English landscape and literature. She was born in Europe and emigrated to Australia as a child. She is a graduate of LaTrobe and Melbourne Universities and has published several non-fiction books on art, craft and social comment. The Competition is her debut novel.


The Competition is the story of a Georgian-era artist who must enter a painting competition that will see the winner’s career made. In the protagonist I wanted an ordinary person, a man of his time, who struggles with the sort of issues that everyone throughout history has had to deal with: getting ahead, worrying about money, falling in love, fear of failure, boredom, relationships. He’s passionate about his art and wants to succeed, but isn’t sure what that consists of. His life lacks meaning, although it’s not until he becomes involved with the radical politics of the era, with frame-breakers and the fall-out of the Industrial Revolution, that he can see what the problem is and be inspired to do something about it.

Finalist Dwayne Brenna

Dwayne Brenna is the versatile author of several books of humour, poetry, and fiction.  Coteau Books published his popular series of humorous vignettes entitled Eddie Gustafson’s Guide to Christmas in 2000.  His two books of poetry, Stealing Home and Give My Love to Rose, were published by Hagios Press in 2012 and 2015 respectively.  Stealing Home, a poetic celebration of the game of baseball, was subsequently shortlisted for several Saskatchewan Book Awards, including the University of Regina Book of the Year Award.  His first novel New Albion, about a laudanum-addicted playwright struggling to survive in London’s East End during the winter of 1850-51, was published by Coteau Books in autumn 2016.  New Albion won the 2017 Muslims for Peace and Justice Fiction Award at the Saskatchewan Book Awards.  It is one of three English language novels shortlisted for the prestigious MM Bennetts Award for historical fiction.  His short stories and poems have been published in an array of journals, including Grain, Nine, Spitball, and The Antigonish Review.

Brenna has acted at the Stratford Festival and has appeared on television in various nationally and internationally broadcast programs including For the Record, Judge (CBC Toronto), The Great Electrical Revolution, and The Incredible Story Studio (Mind’s Eye).  His movie credits include The Wars, Painted Angels (with Kelly McGillis), Black Light (with Michael Ironside), and The Impossible Elephant (with Mia Sara).  A series of character-based vignettes called The Adventures of Eddie Gustafson, written and performed by Brenna, had a five-year run on CBC Radio.

He is also the author of several books on theatre research, including Scenes From Canadian Plays (Fifth House) and Emrys’ Dream: Greystone Theatre in Words and Photographs (Thistledown).  His book Our Kind of Work: the Glory Days and Difficult Times of 25th Street Theatre (Thistledown 2011) was subsequently nominated for a Saskatchewan Book Award in Non-Fiction.  He has contributed articles on theatre to Theatre Notebook (London UK), The Dictionary of National Biography (London UK), The Canadian Theatre Review, and the Czech journal Theatralia.

Having completed his PhD at the University of London (England), Dr. Brenna is an active proponent of internationalization at the University of Saskatchewan, where he is employed.  He was involved in the development of an exchange with Mazaryk University in the Czech Republic, where he taught a module on Canadian theatre.  He has taught (and learned) mask in the aboriginal village of Boruca in the mountains of Costa Rica.  Most recently, he taught a course in mask at the University of Hyderabad in India, the first step in developing an exchange between that university and the University of Saskatchewan.  He regularly leads a study abroad course in London and Stratford-upon-Avon for students at the University of Saskatchewan.

His stage plays have been produced at Dancing Sky Theatre in Meacham, 25th Street Theatre in Saskatoon, and the Neptune Theatre in Halifax.


New Albion follows the lives of the employees of the New Albion theatre in London, England, in 1850, through the journal entries of the stage manager, Emlyn Phillips. Fighting its own reputation, hindered by its location and ""sketchy" (at best) audience, as well as a police commissioner who demands "morally upstanding" plays, and a playwright so decrepit and addicted to laudanum that the actors of the New Albion are never sure what to expect, the troupe attempts to put on the best show possible, each and every night. The reader is introduced to the entire company of actors, all of whom have their own set of issues, who consistently band together as a community and family in the face of every obstacle - and there are more than a few of those. As the theatre encounters problem after problem, Phillips must decide how much he’s willing to sacrifice for the sake of his passion.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Finalists Selected for the 2017 Award

M.M. Bennetts Award

The Directors of the M.M. Bennetts Award for Historical Fiction proudly announce the finalists among entries published during 2016. They are listed alphabetically by author.


Please join us in sending congratulations to the finalists. All the semi-finalists in this year's competition deserve accolades. Picking three from the semi-final ten was a demanding task.

Thanks go to the readers whose efforts made this transitional year successful. We anticipate the selection of the winner during the first week of September.

Thank you, one and all.

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 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  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 (primarily in the UK), please email Linda Root at 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.

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.


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 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 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.


 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,( 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:
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.