Porter’s Firefly wins Wilbur Smith Adventure Writing Prize

Porter’s Firefly wins Wilbur Smith Adventure Writing Prize

Henry Porter has won the 2019 Wilbur Smith Adventure Writing Prize with his novel Firefly (Quercus).

Wilbur Prize founder Niso Smith announced the winner of the £15,000 prize at London’s Stationer’s Hall on Thursday 12th September. The evening was hosted by Wilbur & Niso Smith Foundation patrons BBC presenter Kate Silverton and writer and producer Keith Chapman.

Firefly follows an MI6 agent who is tasked with finding a 13-year-old Syrian refugee is on the run from an Isis terror cell. Porter’s work was chosen from a six-strong shortlist, consisting of two debuts alongside well-established authors.

Smith said: “We were impressed by the extremely high standard of submissions this year. After much deliberation the judges chose Firefly for its breathtaking cinematic quality, its pace, and its scope and ambition.

“Whilst adventure writing can offer glorious escapism and sheer entertainment, it can also highlight important issues. Henry has written a mesmerizing and important book, brilliantly researched, that illuminates the refugee crisis spreading from Africa and the Middle East across Europe. It is a vital story for our times.”

Judges included Sky news special correspondent Alex Crawford, Zimbabwean cabinet minister Kirsty Coventry, 2018 winner Abir Mukherjee, literary agent Kevin Conroy Scott, The Reading Agency c.e.o. Sue Wilkinson and explorer and writer Levison Wood.

In its fourth year, the Wilbur Smith Adventure Writing Prize received almost 100 submissions this year with entries from the US, Australia, Nigeria, South Africa and New Zealand.

The panel awarded best unpublished manuscript to Cecily Blench for her debut novel What We Did at the End. Blench has secured a publishing deal with Bonnier Books UK, and representation with Charlotte Colwill at The Bravo Blue Agency, in association with Tibor Jones.

Porter has written six bestselling thrillers, including Brandenburg, which won the CWA Ian Fleming Steel Dagger, while A Spy’s Life and Empire State, both received nominations.