There’s a new book prize for thrillers “in which no woman is beaten, stalked, sexually exploited, raped or murdered.” It will be extremely interesting to see how many qualifying nominations they receive!
Founded by the author and screenwriter Bridget Lawless, the Staunch book prize will open to entries next month, with the winner to be announced on 25 November, the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women. Lawless, who is funding the £2,000 prize pot herself, will be joined on the judging panel by the actor and writer Doon Mackichan, who wrote and presented a BBC Radio 4 documentary about the increase of violence against women on television, Body Count Rising.
“As violence against women in fiction reaches a ridiculous high, the Staunch book prize invites thriller writers to keep us on the edge of our seats without resorting to the same old cliches—particularly female characters who are sexually assaulted (however ‘necessary to the plot’), or done away with (however ingeniously).” wrote Lawless on the website for the inaugural Staunch prize.
Lawless told the paper that she was inspired by the sheer number of BAFTA nominees that featured rape as a plot device and settled on the notion of influencing books because they’re so heavily represented as source material. “There are so many books in which women are raped or murdered for an investigator or hero to show off his skills,” she said, adding, “This is about writers coming up with stories that don’t need to rely on sexual violence.”
Nominations open February 22. Details here. Bet half the entries are from guys whose books don’t qualify but submit anyway!