Book 3 of my Canary Islands Mysteries Series Wins Finalist Award in the 2021 International Book Awards
I’m thrilled to announce this latest award for A Prison in the Sun! The novel has already won the Finalist Award in the 2020 Readers’ Favorite Awards. I guess that means it’s a multi-award winner!
I wrote A Prison in the Sun to introduce the English-speaking world to a little-known atrocity that occurred in Fuerteventura, Canary Islands, Spain – a small farm prison on a former military base used to incarcerate gay men in the 1950s and 60s using a tweak to the vagrancy act. There were other prisons used for the same purpose dotted throughout Spain. My understanding is the one in Fuerteventura was about the worst.
The ‘hostel’ as it was known, comprised three small concrete-block huts each housing about twelve men in the most appalling conditions. (The prison itself pre-dates the incarceration of gay men and included criminals and political prisoners used as slave labour, almost chain-gang style, in farm work and road building in blistering desert conditions.) The prison and the treatment of the gay men who were sent there for ‘reconditioning’ was a travesty.
Even today, after the true and horrible story broke in the Canary Islands and mainland Spain around ten years ago, few know about this prison camp, which is likened to a concentration camp. There is a memorial, but it is situated inside the compound of what is now a youth hostel, tucked out of view of anyone who happens by, which would not be many since the place is not signposted and the area is remote. It remains the island’s dark secret.
I am a strong believer in using fiction to raise awareness. I have known about the prison since 1988 when I was living in Lanzarote and my local friends told me about it. One even drove by it and pointed it out to me.
Fast forward to 2017 and the prison came to light again when I came close to buying a farmhouse nearby in one of my attempts at relocation. That was when I decided I had to incorporate the truth into a novel. It was no easy thing. All the information about the prison was in Spanish and all the historical background was as well. I read countless articles and blog posts, along with a couple of PhD’s, a novella and an academic book, all in a language I have a modest grasp of. The novella was the hardest to translate but I gave it my best effort.
I’m over the moon that all that effort has been appreciated by the judges of these awards.
You can find out more about A Prison in the Sun here – Award-Winning Finalist in the Fiction: LGBTQ category of the 2021 International Book Awards