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Winner of the Wilbur and Niso Smith Foundation Adventure Writing Prize revealed

Jacob P. Avila has won the fifth annual Wilbur & Niso Smith Foundation Adventure Writing Prize for his novel, Cave Diver.

The winner of the 2020 Wilbur Smith Adventure Writing Prize for Best Unpublished Manuscript is Australian author, Jacob P. Avila. The Prize is open to writers of any nationality, writing in English and aims to support and celebrate the best new adventure writers today.

Avila’s manuscript, Cave Diver, is a contemporary thriller following the story of Rob Nash, an acclaimed explorer who lost his wife in a controversial diving accident. A TV documentary team searching  for a World War Two submarine bring the opportunity for Nash to resurrect his stellar career but, isolated in the remote landscape of Papua New Guinea, alliances fracture and Nash realises not everyone has an honest motive.

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 with Bonnier Books UK and in Australia with Echo Publishing.

Kate Parkin, Managing Director 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."

Avila, along with the five other authors shortlisted for the award (Dan Cross, UK/Colombia; Tony Durrant, UK; Gail Kirkpatrick, Canada; Jack Rees, UK/USA; Joe Totten, USA) received one-to-one support from June to August to develop their work from literary consultant David Llewelyn.

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.


in partnership with WORLDREADER

Selected from 563 submissions from 43 countries

Prizes are awarded in three age categories:

11 and Under -  Prize: £100 plus £150 book tokens for your school

Winner: The Temple of Ometecuhtli by Rosie Shaw (age 11)

12-15 years -  Prize: £100 plus £150 book tokens for your school

Winner: The Debt by Poem Schway (age 14)

16-21 years - Prize: £1,000

Winner: Pearl Diving by Sarah Ang (age 21)

Highly Commended by Wilbur and Niso Smith:

Tragedy and Triumph in Samburu by Oliver Wright (age 11)

Each shortlisted author worked with an editor to make their work ready for digital publication. All ten stories, by young writers aged from 9 to 21, are now available to read on global literacy charity, Worldreader’s open library in an anthology titled Robots, Rebels and the Resistance. Visit http://read.worldreader.org/ on your mobile or tablet and search for Author of Tomorrow.

For further information visit https://www.wilbur-niso-smithfoundation.org/awards/author-of-tomorrow