Mark Stibbe, from Folkestone in Kent, has been announced as the winner of the Page Turner Awards Fiction Writing Award for his manuscript, A Book in Time, and he’s also been offered literary representation by London literary agent, Yasmin Kane.
From abandoned baby to vicar to rising-star author, Mark Stibbe’s unique life journey has informed his passion for books and his identity as a writer.
Folkestone author Mark Stibbe and his twin sister Claire had an unusual start to life. After being left in the hands of some kindly Anglican nuns in a community house in Hackney, they were adopted by a family that loved books.
That reverence has remained with Mark over the years and his unique background has provided the inspiration for his latest novel, A Book in Time, which not only won the 2020 Page Turner Awards Fiction Writing Award, but also impressed London literary agent, Yasmin Kane, who now represents the author and is seeing a bright and lucrative future for Mark's writing career.
Despite what could have been inauspicious beginnings for the twins, they were raised in a home surrounded by books and spent many happy hours listening to their father read to them from C.S. Lewis and Tolkien, whom he knew personally from his time studying English at Oxford.
Mark went on to be awarded a senior scholarship in English literature at Cambridge University and earned a doctorate in storytelling. He then spent over two decades working as a Vicar, trying to balance his pastoral duties with his passion for writing books. Then, in 2012, he became a full-time author.
A Book in Time is informed by Mark Stibbe’s love of books, and especially by his concern that the digital age is threatening the joy of reading and cherishing physical books – books that you can hold and smell, like you would a baby.
Stibbe’s magical-realist novel therefore features an unorthodox central character — a book. Born to an 87-year old woman called Emily Swanson, this book spends the next two centuries being handed from one adoptive parent to another - imaginary as well as historical figures among them - all-the-while longing to be reunited with the mother who conceived and delivered it.
The story’s principal themes, such as motherhood and adoption, have been similarly dominant in the writer’s own life. In fact, Mark’s authorship of A Book in Time coincided with his and Claire’s own search for their birth mother. He completed the novel just as their journey was reaching its conclusion in 2020. This synchronicity made the writing of the novel even more emotive.
A Book in Time will therefore appeal to those who love stories about lost families, while challenging readers to consider the value of physical books. Mark says: “We cannot outlive our books, and we cannot live without them.”
Stibbe has some words of advice for other writers: “I recommend all writers, especially aspiring writers, to enter writing contests. I admire the other writers who have courageously exposed their art to scrutiny in the Page Turner Awards; I’m so glad I entered! Winning the Page Turner Fiction Writing Award and receiving a literary agent to represent me…wow! This is the greatest encouragement and achievement since I started writing fiction eight years ago. I’m overjoyed.”
Agent Yasmin Kane was immediately hooked on Stibbe’s story. Kane said: “A Book in Time is an exceptional premise, and, coupled with Mark's beautiful prose, it's a joy!”
The Page Turner Awards, sponsored by ProWritingAid, gives writers and authors the chance to enter unpublished or published fiction and non-fiction books, to be read by a carefully curated judging panel made up of influential players in the publishing industry. Prizes span everything from mentorships to audiobook production, with three writers from the 2020 awards winning an agent and five securing publishing contracts.
Founder of Page Turner Awards and award-winning novelist, Paula Wynne said: “There are writers from all walks of life, from manual labourers to academics. All with stories to tell, most of them heart-warming and moving. We’re proud that our awards celebrates excellent writing and helps writers and authors to get their stories discovered.”
Submissions for 2021 will open on the 1st of January 2021. Find out more about The Page Turner Awards: https://pageturnerawards.com