New author is published after winning First Fiction competition at the LitFest
Dubai, 7 April, 2014: A debut novelist has been awarded a three-book publishing contract thanks to the Emirates Airline Festival of Literature and Montegrappa Middle East.
British expat Annabel Kantaria, who is based in Dubai, has won the book deal with Harlequin. Her first novel ‘Coming Home’ explores the theme ‘Can you ever really know your parents?’ with the protagonist uncovering dark secrets following the death of her father.
Journalist Kantaria (43) has been living in Dubai for 16 years and is currently The Daily Telegraph’s “Expat” blogger. Her success came after winning the Festival’s 2013 Montegrappa First Fiction competition which was judged by UK literary agent Luigi Bonomi.
“I can’t believe I entered a writing competition in January 2013 and, just over a year later, have completed my first novel, been signed up by a top agent and bagged a three-book deal,” said Kantaria. “The Emirates Airline Festival of Literature, Luigi Bonomi and the Montegrappa First Fiction competition have completely changed my life.”
Bonomi said: “Annabel Kantaria’s writing stood out from the very first page. She is a naturally talented author and I am thrilled she received such a great commitment from a publishing house. I am also delighted to be associated with this terrific Festival – that last year’s winner and runner-up both ended up with multi-book contracts is an incredible achievement.”
Last year’s runner-up Rachel Hamilton (40) won a two book deal with Simon & Schuster as a result of the competition. Her novel ‘The Case of the Exploding Loo’ is aimed at children aged 10-13 and is published in the UK and Dubai in May.
Festival Director Isobel Abulhoul said that the competition had succeeded in its aim to give a boost to the literary scene in the Emirates and find a way to encourage and nurture talent: “Many congratulations to Annabel, we are thrilled for her. As far as we are aware, this is the only competition anywhere in the world which gives new novelists such an effective entree to the publishing world. Although no promises are made, the fact that two of last year’s finalists now have got publishing deals shows we have tapped into a rich seam of talent in Dubai. Our finalists for the 2014 competition were also outstanding and we have high hopes that some of these too will become published authors. This is what the Montegrappa First Fiction Competition is all about – uncovering the amazing talent that we have in Dubai.”
Luigi Bonomi is a literary agent who has launched the careers of many bestselling authors. He is the founder, with Amanda Preston, of LBA books, which represents a large number of commercial authors and journalists. He also represents the literary interests of many production companies including The BBC, Endemol, Hattrick and Zodiac rights as well as gaming companies such as Sega. In addition to his day job, he is Honorary Professor of Creative Writing at Aberystwyth University and Literary Consultant for the Oxford University Literary Festival. In 2010, he won the Bookseller Industry Award for Literary Agent of the Year.
The competition was sponsored by Montegrappa Middle East and all winners received a hand-engraved Montegrappa pen as part of their prize. Giuseppe Aquila, CEO of Montegrappa Italia said that the company was proud to be involved with the Festival and particularly in discovering new writers: “We warmly congratulate Annabel on her success, and are delighted to have played a part in her journey to get published. As a brand of writing instruments used by such great authors such as Ernest Hemingway and Paulo Coelho over the last 100 years, we are proud to be involved in discovering new writers who may be the great authors of the future.”
The Montegrappa First Fiction competition was open exclusively to UAE residents over the age of 21 years who had never had a novel published. Entrants sent in a 400 word synopsis and the first five pages of their fiction manuscript to the Festival which were then read and evaluated by Bonomi. Submissions for the 2015 event open on 1 September 2014.
The Emirates Airline Festival of Literature, which is part of the Emirates Literature Foundation, will take place in Dubai from 3 to 7 March 2015 under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, UAE Vice-President & Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai, and in partnership with Emirates Airline and the Dubai Culture & Arts Authority (Dubai Culture), the Emirate’s dedicated Authority for culture, arts, and heritage. For more details of the Festival please see www.emirateslitfest.com
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Notes to editors:
Annabel Kantaria is a British editor and journalist currently working as The Telegraph’s Dubai-based “Expat” blogger. She’s wanted to be an author since the day she climbed onto her dad’s office chair, aged six, and pressed typewriter keys for the first time.
After graduating with a psychology degree from Warwick University, she bagged a job in book publishing and worked her way up to the glorious heights of commissioning editor (non-fiction), a post that she held first at Franklin Watts and then at Dorling Kindersley. In 1998,she married and moved to Dubai.
After a short stint spent working as a researcher, producer and presenter for Dubai’s Radio 2, Annabel won the coveted role of editor of glossy fashion and beauty magazine Emirates Woman, which she held for close on four years. In 2004, she created and launched two magazines, Good Living and Yummy Mummy, for Dubai-based Beyond Publishing.
In 2007, Annabel stepped down as managing editor at Beyond Publishing in order to bring up her two small children, who are now aged nine and five. As well as working for the Telegraph, Annabel now writes fiction not only in every spare moment that she’s awake, but often in her sleep as well.
About the Emirates Airline Festival of Literature
The Emirates Airline Festival of Literature is the Middle East’s largest celebration of the written and spoken word, bringing people of all ages and backgrounds together with authors from across the world to promote education, debate and above all else, love of reading and writing.
The Festival creates a wonderful opportunity for UAE nationals, residents and visitors to meet world famous authors, attend literary debates, listen to readings, participate in workshops and experience the exciting fringe and children’s events. With simultaneous translation between Arabic and English for all sessions, the Festival is a meeting of minds where ideas are shared and friendships are formed – not least among the authors themselves.
The Festival has become an eagerly anticipated annual event and in 2014 welcomed 170 writers, thinkers and speakers from 40 countries. More than 30,000 visitors attended the Festival which had over 200 one-off sessions and unique events to be experienced and enjoyed in a programme designed for wide appeal, with something to suit every taste.
The 2015 Festival will be held March 3-7, 2015 at The Intercontinental Hotel, Dubai Festival City under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, UAE Vice-President & Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai, and in partnership with Emirates airline and the Dubai Culture & Arts Authority (Dubai Culture), the emirate’s dedicated Authority for culture, arts, and heritage.
The LitFest also hosts a regular series of literary events during the winter months (October-April) at its home – Dar Al Adaab (House of Literature) in Al Fahidi Historic Area. For all information and updates about the Emirates Airline Festival of Literature visit the website: www.emirateslitfest.com.
Montegrappa, Italy’s oldest manufacturer of luxury writing instruments, was founded in 1912 and operates, to this day, from the same historic building at the foot of the Monte Grappa mountain in North East Italy where Italians heroically defended their country during two world wars. Today, Montegrappa continues a long tradition of craftsmanship in producing exquisite hand-made masterpieces that celebrate mankind’s mastery of the written word. Appreciated by pen collectors, writers, statesmen and celebrities, as well as anyone with an appreciation of the finer things in life, Montegrappa’s products embody the pride, passion, and style that make up the ‘soul of Italy’. For more information visit www.montegrappa.com or email firstname.lastname@example.org