At a special ceremony held at Seattle's Olympic Sculpture Park this weekend, two debut novelists--Alan Averill and Regina Sirois--were named winners of the annual Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award. Averill won the Grand Prize in general fiction for The Beautiful Land, and Sirois' On Little Wings was awarded the Grand Prize in young adult fiction.
This year's contest drew thousands of submissions from aspiring writers around the world. Six finalists were selected by a panel of authors, agents, and editors; Amazon.com customers voted to select the winners. Averill and Sirois will each receive a $15,000 advance and a publishing contract from Penguin Group. Their novels will be published by Berkley Books and Viking Books for Young Readers, respectively. Both are available for pre-order at www.amazon.com/abna.
At Saturday's ceremony, Sirois and Averill each credited their spouses for supporting their writing.
Averill is a former video game script doctor from Seattle who wrote a draft of The Beautiful Land as a part of National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo), during which writers attempt to complete a novel in 30 days. The Beautiful Land is a sci-fi/horror story of a computer genius' efforts to find and save his high school love--with a time machine. One customer reviewer wrote: "From the opening statement to the last quote, [it] had me excited all the way through. The prose is strong, descriptive in a quirky way, charming, and unique. The characters are extremely memorable."
Regina Sirois, born and raised outside of Kansas City, had studied creative writing but didn't start writing seriously until she became the mother of two girls. On Little Wings is the story of 16-year-old Jennifer's discovery of an aunt she never knew existed, and her search for the truth about her family. One of the panelists wrote: "this tale of family, home, and heartbreak reveals the ways in which we are held prisoner by our memories of the past as well as our expectations of the future." And a customer reviewer said "any given sentence, paragraph or scene was sublime."
The Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award contest, now in its fifth year, is an international contest co-sponsored by Amazon.com, Penguin Group (USA) and CreateSpace. "This contest not only recognizes talented authors but also connects them directly with readers looking to discover great new writers," said Nader Kabbani, Director of Independent Publishing at Amazon.
To view excerpts and reviews, and learn more about current and past winners and finalists, visit www.amazon.com/abna.