Bute writers make up half the best novel nominations

Bute-based writers Nina Allan, Anne Charnock and Christopher Priest.
Bute-based writers Nina Allan, Anne Charnock and Christopher Priest.

Close friends Anne Charnock and Nina Allan are each up for two British Science Fiction Association Awards later this month, with the pair making up half the nominations for the coveted best novel award.

The pair will be up against American writers Mohsin Hamid for Exit West and Ann Leckie for Provenance. Nina is also nominated for the non-fiction prize for her involvement in the 2017 “Shadow Clarke Award” blog. While Anne has been nominated for the short fiction award, for her novella The Enclave.

Photo of Anne Charnock (left) and Nina Allan

Photo of Anne Charnock (left) and Nina Allan

Anne and Nina, both originally from England, each moved to the island in the past year. However, both say they find inspiration for their work on Bute, with the pair feeling right at home here.

The upcoming awards are held at the Easter Science Fiction Convention, otherwise known as Eastercon, at Harrogate. Anne, from Port Bannatyne, is just delighted that she and her friend are both nominated for these awards.

She said: “We are both delighted. I said to Nina last year ‘wouldn’t it be great if we could be on the same shortlist one day?’ So we see it more as a fun than rivalry. We feel that we have already won by getting on the shortlist.

“There were 10-20 well known authors on the long list. So really I wasn’t expecting to make the shortlist.

“When we found out we were both on the shortlist of four we were delighted and had a little celebration.”

Anne and her husband Garry moved to the island in December last year, closely following her friend, creating something of a hub for science fiction on Bute. She said: “Nina came here a year ago with her partner Christopher Priest. We followed them.

“I have known Nina for a couple of years. Garry and I had always taken holidays up the west of Scotland. When Nina and Christopher moved here we were coming up for a holiday. So we dropped in and spent a night here.

“Nina convinced us that Bute was a good place to live. Then a house came up which really suited us. We made a pretty quick decision to come here. It just felt right for us.

“It’s become quite a hub for speculative writing, which covers science fiction, horror and paranormal. Ken McLeod is just across the water on the mainland too.”

Nina Allan lives in Rothesay with her partner and fellow writer Christopher Priest. Nina is delighted that she and her friend are putting Bute “on the map” with the nominations and admitted she has fallen in love with the island.

She added: “It’s really amazing. It’s quite funny really. We are obviously very pleased about the nominations. It’s all a bit of a coincidence, but at the same time it seems there are a lot of creative people here on Bute.

“With stuff going on on the island it really feels as if something is happening here.

“My partner and I have found that Bute is the perfect place to live for us. Although it is so quiet and peaceful, we have still got accessibility to the rest of the country.

“We still travel a fair bit with our work so you can’t be too much out of the way. We had thought about going further north but it wasn’t practical. We have been here just over a year now and we are so happy we made the move.”

The close friends will attend the awards together. While Nina revealed her joy at her friend now also living on Bute. She said: “We are both going. We will be going there for a weekend of panel discussions. It’s even more fun if you are up for an award.

“I really hope Anne wins. I won a British Science Fiction Award a couple of years ago and it was a lovely thing. So I would really like here to win. I think it’s her turn this year.

“We all get together to do social things, but since Anne has been here we have mad e a point of getting together just the two of us to talk about work. Thoughts about books.

“It’s insightful and really creative. And if she is doing well it’s inspiring for me, and vice versa.”

The British Science Fiction Association (BSFA) Awards will be voted on by members of the BSFA and the British Annual Science Fiction Convention (Eastercon).

The four categories are Best Novel, Best Short Fiction, Best Non-Fiction and Best Artwork.

The winners will be announced at the 69th Eastercon, to be held March 30-April 2, at the Majestic Hotel in Harrogate, Yorkshire.
The BSFA Awards have been presented annually since 1970 by the BSFA to honour works in the genre of science fiction.