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.

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!