San Francisco Journalist Wins International Writing Contest
Jaya Padmanabhan, who lives in Los Altos Hills, US, was announced as the Writing Award winner in the Page Turner Awards. This was announced at a glittering online ceremony where Paul Michael Glaser, from Starsky and Hutch fame, was a special guest to announce the winners.
The Page Turner Awards, sponsored by ProWritingAid and Campfire, offers authors, writers, and screenwriters the chance to enter the first 10 pages of their writing project, where a judging panel of literary experts and film producers will read the work.
Bloom of a Drunken Coconut is about Leela, who uses her slate and a vast botanical vocabulary to heal the ailments of the people in her village, yet she’s unable to protect the people she loves when a socialist insurrection and police brutality threaten to uproot her life.
In 2015, Padmanabhan visited Kerala, a state in southern India, to research how "reading rooms" run by women in the late 1940s and 50s were used to educate women, which soon became hubs of protest against injustice and oppression during the communist uprising.
During her travels, she happened to meet a 75-year-old toddy tapper who had once participated in the communist struggles in the region at that time. She found the tapper's descriptions of his profession of climbing coconut trees and extracting sap utterly fascinating, and her novel was born.
She anchored the story with the narrative threads of three women who participated in a reading room in the middle of political and social chaos. The story grew from there to imagining the backstories of these women, all bearing the weight of tragedy and learning to carve a path to selfhood despite the tumultuous political landscape.
Padmanabhan’s father, a lawyer, suffered a stroke when he was 41 years old and lost sensation in the left side of his body. How he negotiated his disability, walking with a cane, while continuing to work, has always been a source of inspiration and of strength for Jaya.
He once wore three sets of clothes, stashed his work papers in a folder that he tucked against his chest, and took the train from Asansol to Calcutta (a 5-hour ride for a week's stay) to argue a case in the Calcutta High Court, because he did not have the capacity to carry luggage. So Padmanabhan gave her lead character, Leela, a hearing loss, and imagined how that loss also became her strength.
Padmanabhan said: “Page Turner Awards is an opportunity for writers and authors to see other contestants' work and have their work be seen by a panel of distinguished judges which lends credibility to the contest. The experience has been seamless for me. The number of entries to the Page Turner award restores my confidence in the prominent place that books have in people's imaginations.”
She added, “Thank you to the Page Turner family for this fabulous opportunity. Winning the Writing Award affirms that the work I've put in to create my characters and produce a novel is special, even momentous.”
Bloom of a Drunken Coconut also won ‘Best Book Title’ at the ceremony.
This year aspiring writers walked off the red carpet with life-changing prizes. One new unpublished writer won literary agency representation while a screenwriter won literary management. Another new writer won a publishing deal, seven independent authors won an audiobook production from Spectrum Audiobooks, plus one other won a publishing package (including an edit, book cover and book trailer), and another author won a book adaptation.
The Page Turner Awards winners can be found here: https://pageturnerawards.com/2021-winners
Submissions for the 2022 Awards will open in January 2022. Find out how you too can enter your writing into The Page Turner Awards: https://pageturnerawards.com.