Award: Sable Shadow and The Presence

Sable Shadow and The Presence has been awarded runner-up in adult fiction at the London Book Festival, 2013.

London Book FestivalOver 3,000 books were submitted to this contest, and there were about 130 books awarded honourable mention in fifteen categories.  Full details are available at

I decided to attend the awards ceremony which was held at the British Library in London.  There were about twenty-five people in attendance, half of whom were authors who came to collect their awards.  The event began at 7 pm with drinks, heavy hors d’oeuvres and mingling.  At 8 pm the ceremony began with an introduction by a representative of the festival, who then introduced each of the wining authors.

Thankfully, the acceptance speeches were (with one exception) mercifully brief, and we were all homeward bound at 9:15.

In my comments, I mentioned that my original idea for Sable Shadow and The Presence was to write a novel in the first person (which I had never done before), and that my key idea was that the central character would, as a child, hear voices which he did not recognise, and which he came to know as Sable Shadow (a representative of the devil) and The Presence (a representative of God).  I produced about three chapters and sent them to my friend, Peter, who is an avid reader of quality literature, and why says exactly what he thinks.  About three weeks later I got an email advising me that the work I had done was ‘boring’.  I had to admit that the book wasn’t fulfilling my expectations,either, so I put it aside, and in the meantime, I wrote The Iranian Scorpion.

But, after a year, I felt that the unfinished work deserved attention.  I had some additional thoughts: that Henry, the principal character would reveal the relationships (both good and bad) that exist in large corporations, and that he would begin to hold an existentialist’s view of the world.  (I think that Existentialism is wrongly thought of as anti-Christian.  In fact, I think it has much to recommend it as a way of understanding human life.  Besides, I had some concepts to add to the existentialist portfolio.)  So, I went back to work: re-writing much of the work I had done, and writing more.  The novel was finished, edited and published.  I gave Peter one of the first copies.  About three days later, I got an email from Peter in which he said he couldn’t put it down, that it was a fascinating book, and he thanked me for writing it.  I closed my talk by thanking Peter for his reviews – particularly the first, and thanking the Festival for selecting the novel.

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