A Prison in the Sun Finalist-Winner in the 2021 International Book Awards

Fuerteventura history

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

The Unlikely Occultist receives a Five Star Readers’ Favorite Badge!

The Unlikely Occultist

Reviewed by Deborah Lloyd for Readers’ Favorite

Shortly after her loving Aunt Hilary’s funeral, Heather faced a challenge at her job. At the State Library in Victoria, Australia, she was assigned the task of assessing a one-hundred box collection donated by the late Professor Foyle. She was a professor of religious studies, with a strong interest in Alternative Spiritualities, often called New Age. Heather soon became engrossed in the professor’s writings, and how her own belief system was affected by the study of this collection is a fascinating aspect of this book. Author Isobel Blackthorn has crafted a thought-provoking, insightful book in The Unlikely Occultist: A Biographical Novel of Alice A. Bailey. The journey of Alice is told in a chronological format, including both her personal life and her work in the spiritual realm.

This biographical novel is written in an easy-to-read, flowing manner. It describes the facts of Alice Bailey’s life – the early years of strong Christian beliefs; her commitment to service; the expansion of her spiritual beliefs; the telepathic connection with several Masters; her marriages and mothering three daughters. It also includes how some spiritualists accepted and others vilified her prolific writings and presentations. How Isobel Blackthorn interweaves the life of Alice of the last century and the life of Heather at the present time is truly masterful. This book provides a context for anyone interested in Alice’s teachings and books, the Arcane School, or organizations she or her followers founded. A novel based on historical facts, The Unlikely Occultist is truly an exceptional read. – 5 STARS

Discover more herehttps://isobelblackthorn.com/the-unlikely-occultist-a-biographical-novel-of-alice-a-bailey/

Don’t stop the boats, stop the injustice

I tried to watch Go Back to Where You Came From on SBS last night, but when they got to the border camp in Jordan, where 200 of the 4 million-and-rising refugees fleeing Syria arrive by the day, I welled up. Every time I picture the camps I cry.
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Appearing in my newsfeed a little later was an article in the Sydney Morning Herald about how the free trade agreement would push up the price of medicines in Australia, posing a threat to our pharmaceutical benefits scheme (PBS).
What have refugees got to do with the PBS and the free trade agreements (TPPs)? Everything.
In my view, the TPP is a global campaign designed to challenge sovereignty, designed to worsen the wellbeing of all, designed to benefit only the huge corporations. That the Australian government is currently footing a $50 million bill for court costs defending a case brought about by Phillip Morris over plain cigarette packaging should raise the alarm.
Another campaign designed to worsen wellbeing is the cultivated destabilisation of the Middle East. Cultivated through arms supplies, favouring sides, funding, training and general politicking, the result, a series of failed states. It seems a new twist on the Cold War proxy war strategy rolled out the world over wherever a chance presented itself, one that left and continues to leave unimaginable devastation in its wake.
Refugees are expendable. Just as we are expendable.
The global elite really doesn’t care. To the elite, we are less than scum in a bathtub. It’s always been this way.
For my doctoral thesis I studied the works of Theosophist (esotericist) Alice Bailey. 100,000 words and I’m the world’s leading academic authority on her work, for what it’s worth.
I woke this morning thinking about what she has to say about consciousness and how it expands and transforms. Thousands and thousands of words that can be summed up in two – Wake Up!
What she says about Power is more striking. She talks about the way power focuses to a single point. Power centralises itself and thus self-perpetuates, gaining in strength as it advances. Power is the arrow, the finger of an outstretched hand, a gun. Power has no regard for anything except power.
Thus power in human form needs an expanding evolving consciousness that embraces ideas with an open heart. Power in human form needs compassion.
Alice Bailey witnessed both World Wars. She decried the bickering and the squabbles and the infighting and divisions amongst all those who are waking up. She saw the necessity of unity in diversity (her phrase) and she knew that unless we achieve unity, we will never address the problem of power on our planet, power that has always been fundamentally evil (anti-life) – selfish, greedy, corrupt, abusive, destructive and so on.
As the veil lifts and one by one we see this power for what it is, then we must also realise the other sort of power and help it manifest – the power of unity in diversity.
That’s why the sight of refugees in border camps makes me cry.

Asylum Reviews

Asylum Cover

 

Today I found two reviews of Asylum on NetGalley which I just had to share!

The first is by Tanya Brough – “Have you ever felt like just dropping everything and running far, far away? To perhaps an island? That is what Yvette Grimm did. She ran from her life in Malta and her boyfriend Carlos (what an oaf!) and met up with her mother, Leah, in Australia. She wants to stay and her mom wants her to stay. There might even be a man on the horizon, but that will always be a complicated situation with Yvette, a romantic at heart. I thoroughly enjoyed Asylum. Yvette is such a lovable, but emotional human. You can even feel her hurt when her mother is a little cold towards her, always talking about her sister. Asylum is just the right book at the right time for me. Yvette, we sistas in arms.” Tanya gives Asylum 5 Stars.

Then Rachel Bustin wrote,” My initial thoughts were that the cover seemed a little bland, but I always go by the saying, ‘Never judge a book by it’s cover’. I did like the thought of reading a very strong character driven book, and this is what the book is. The story starts off with Yvette Grimm finding herself back in her childhood bedroom at her mother’s Leah’s house in Australia. She is on a holiday visa at the moment, but Leah has sent off her permanent residency forms. Yvette had to leave her old life in Malta. As you read through the book, you discover what Yvette’s life was like with her boyfriend Carlos through little snippets, and why she had to leave. I love this little quote. The author uses a fantastic style of writing throughout, to the point and very clear. ‘Yvette was seeking refuge from the wreckage of her life’ Yvette’s mother tells her that she must get married to stay in Australia, but Yvette is a sort of a hopeless romantic and believes that you marry for love not convenience. The story follows Yvette through her struggles of belonging nowhere. Yvette takes you to a cockroach infested flat, to a cute little house to singing in a choir and a life changing event. It was a beautiful journey that the author took me on. Laughing in places, crying the next. I loved the character of Yvette, she never let anything get her down, she was always expecting the worst, and this made her a much stronger person. I didn’t like her mum Leah, she seemed very cold towards Yvette, and always going on about her sister Debbie, which made Yvette feel alone at times. I think the main idea of the book is to inform you about the difficulties that people have in gaining residencies. Even though Yvette’s mum and sister live in Australia it doesn’t make her a definite case to live there permanently, just because she stayed with her dad in England when her mother and sister moved back when they were children. I find the topic on political asylum quite fascinating and this book does question that. I would love to read other books with a similar topic to this one, it was a fascinating read. I would recommend to anyone looking for a strong female character lead. I gave Asylum by Isobel Blackthorn 4 out of 5 stars.”

Many thanks Tanya and Rachel. I’m enormously chuffed and grateful. Cheers!