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February 23, 2017
Since winning the inaugural BookLife Prize, indie author TJ Slee has signed with an agent and is shopping his novel to film producers.

Earlier this month, BookLife reached out to indie author TJ Slee -- winner of the the inaugural BookLife Prize for his novel The Vanirim -- to see what he's working on and how the BL Prize has impacted his career.

"I had an amazing debut year as a writer in 2016 but the BookLife Prize boosted it into the stratosphere," says Slee, who refuses to divulge his true identity due to his previous intelligence work. The incognito author donated the $5,000 BookLife Prize writing stipend to Doctors Without Borders -- and he does the same with all the profits from his writing.

"When I made the finals, I suddenly found myself fielding a call out of the blue from a Hollywood producer. What?" he says. "The usual process as I understood it was to first write a bestseller, then get someone in Hollywood interested. Producers of big blockbuster franchises (which this one was) don't reach out directly to an unknown author do they? Turns out sometimes they do! No ink on any deals yet, but I've learned things move at a 'glacial' pace in that world. And I'm getting a crash course in the movie business."

"I had an amazing debut year as a writer, but the BookLife Prize boosted it into the stratosphere."
Reflecting on why he entered the his novel in the first place, Slee said: "My main ambition with the BookLife prize was to get professional feedback on my work."

But, he adds, "When it looked like I might make it past the first round, I increased that ambition to 'If I can just get a literary agent to return my calls, that would be great!' I started talking with an agent in Australia and then just before the final winner was announced, I got a call from a reputable agency in New York and have signed on with them now. I'm busy polishing my manuscripts based on their suggestions and have even found time to write the sequel to The Vanirim."