Jacob P Avila has won this year's Wilbur Smith Adventure Writing Prize for Best Unpublished Manuscript, for his contemporary thriller Cave Diver.
Launched in partnership with Bonnier Books UK, the Wilbur and Niso Smith Foundation, which heads up the award, seeks to "support and celebrate the best new adventure writers" of any nationality, writing in English.
The winning script's synopsis states: "Cave Diver is a contemporary thriller following the story of Rob Nash, an acclaimed explorer who lost his wife in a controversial diving accident. When a TV documentary team searching for a World War Two submarine offer Nash the chance to resurrect his stellar career, he soon finds himself at risk in the remote landscape of Papua New Guinea. Alliances fracture and Nash quickly realises not everyone is who they seem." Bonnier Books UK will be publishing the debut.
Kate Parkin, m.d. of Adult Trade Publishing at Bonnier Books UK, said, “We are absolutely delighted to be publishing Jacob Avila’s brilliant debut Cave Diver. True to the spirit of the Wilbur Smith prize, it embodies the very best of page-turning international adventure and marks the beginning of what we believe will be a stellar writing career.”
Through the award, Avila has secured representation for his debut with Charlotte Colwill at The Bravo Blue Agency, in association with Tibor Jones. Cave Diver will be initially be published in the UK and Australia.
Avila, along with the five other authors shortlisted for the award, received one-to-one manuscript development over the summer from literary consultant David Llewelyn.
The Foundation is inviting literary agents to contact Georgina Brown, Foundation Manager, to request copies of the other five manuscripts.
Niso Smith, trustee and Founder, formally announced Avila as the winner at a small online celebration on Wednesday 9th September. She said, “The Foundation is delighted to discover a new talent in Jacob P Avila, whose novel Cave Diver captured us with its cinematic quality. Set in Papua New Guinea, this contemporary thriller is fast-paced and oozing with danger. We are proud to work with Bonnier Books UK once again to launch the career of another newly discovered adventure author.”
The Foundation also revealed the winners of the Author of Tomorrow award, a competition for young writers age 21 and under, organised in partnerhsup with Worldreader charity. The winner of the 11 and under award is The Temple of Ometecuhtli by Rosie Shaw (age 11) who will receive £100 plus £150 book tokens for her school.
In the age 12 to 15 category Poem Schway has been awarded £150 and £150 worth of book tokens for The Debt, and Sarah Ang will receive £1,000 for Pearl Diving in the 16 to 21 age category. Tragedy and Triumph in Samburu by Oliver Wright, age 11, was highly commended.