One of the highlights of my year is judging Kindle Storyteller and while I was thrilled, obviously, to be in Nashville for Digital Book World, I really wish I could have cloned myself to be at Amazon Storyteller Awards tonight.
For those who don’t know, Amazon’s Storyteller Award is an annual award for fiction and non-fiction. This year, it was open to writers in English across any genre who published their book through Kindle Direct Publishing before 31 August 2018.
The book had to be previously unpublished and available as an ebook and in print. The award is to recognize outstanding storytelling and the judging is two-fold: first by readers, then by a judging panel.
Judging Kindle Storyteller: The Process
1) Firstly, the longlist is selected from books that are doing well with readers during the entry period, organically rising in the bestseller ranks.
2) From those, a shortlist of five books is selected by the Amazon team, from a variety of genres to distribute to a panel of judges.
This year the judging panel was:
- Our chair, Claire Allfree, Books Editor at The Metro (chair)
- Lorraine Kelly, TV presenter
- Laura Deacon, Amazon Publishing
- David Leadbeater, winner of Storyteller last year
- And yours truly.
As we were given the shortlist, we were told:
When it comes to judging, the key factor to bear in mind is the quality of the storytelling. The Storyteller award is not an attempt to discover a new literary genius, but rather a celebration of the power of storytelling to capture the reader’s imagination and convey their ideas.
This is why we encourage entries across such a broad range of genres across fiction and non-fiction. As you read the shortlist please consider the story that the authors are telling and how it is being conveyed
Judging Kindle Storyteller: 2018’s Winner
This year, for me, there was a clear winner and the judging was unanimous: The Afterlife of Walter Augustus by Hannah Lynn charmed all.
This entry best encompassed the guidance from our Chair, Claire Alfree, during the process to choose the book with a “compelling story to tell which also has a fresh and imaginative way of telling it”.
Here is the book blurb:
Walter Augustus is dead. His current state of existence has become a monotony of sweet tea and lonely strolls and after decades stuck in the Interim — a posthumous waiting room for those still remembered on Earth — he is ready to move on. Only when he is forgotten by every living person will he be able to pass over and join his family in the next stage of the afterlife. At last the end is tantalizingly close, but bad luck and a few rash decisions may see him trapped in the Interim for all eternity.
Letty Ferguson is not dead. Letty Ferguson is a middle-aged shoe saleswoman who leads a pleasant and wholly unextraordinary life, barring the secret fortune she seems unable to tell her husband about. However, when she takes possession of an unassuming poetry anthology, life takes on a rather more extraordinary dimension.
Lynn’s story treated this Cinderella-type character—the unextraordinary, overweight and passive Letty– in a most original way. The question at the heart of the novel is not does she get the money and man, but does she get to keep them. For Letty is already married to her Prince Charming. And she has amassed her fortune herself.
I appreciated the sweet outlook on life and love, in both the long-established marriage on earth and the burgeoning romance between Walter and Letty’s mother, Trish, in the afterlife.
I especially like its premise around memory and how we live on after death.
And at a personal level loved that the story was built around a poetry book.
Lynn handled the process of sorting souls through “the Interim” and onward with imaginative verve and insight.
The Afterlife of Walter Augustus offers a new take on the oldest and biggest life question—what happens after we die? And it handles its answers with sensitivity, humor and grace.
Compelling and imaginative storytelling, indeed. Congratulations Hannah Lynn.