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December 18, 2017

The 2017 BookLife Prize was awarded to the novel Face Value by Ian Andrew.

The finalist from the Mystery/Thriller category, Face Value follows the adventures of Kara Wright and Tien Tran, two former members of an elite intelligence unit who now work as private investigators. 

BookLife Prize guest judge and bestselling author Mark Dawson praised the book, saying: "With taut writing, bone-crushing action, and a pace that never relents, this was a difficult read to put down and a worthy winner.”

BookLife Editor Adam Boretz praised all of this year's finalists, noting that the BookLife Prize continues to expand and evolve annually: "This year's BookLife Prize was bigger and better than last year's contest. And we have great things planned for 2018."

"So many quality books were submitted this year," Boretz added. "The BookLife Prize has really become a great vehicle for discovering new talent."

Below is an interview Publishers Weekly conducted with Andrew earlier this month. Also take a look at interviews with all seven of the BookLife Prize finalists and profiles of the contest's guest judges. For more information about the BookLife Prize, check out all the finalists, semifinalists, quarterfinalists, and public entries.

Ian Andrew: A Maelstrom of Action

Andrew, the finalist in the Mystery/Thriller category with the novel Face Value, is an ardent champion of self-publishing, releasing his work exclusively under his own imprint, Book Reality Experience. Face Value is the first book in Andrew’s Wright & Tran series. Based in the rural South West of Western Australia (yes, he has kangaroos in his backyard), Andrew is also the author of the novel A Time to Every Purpose and an anthology of poems, The Little Book of Silly Rhymes & Odd Verses.

What is the premise of Face Value?

Kara Wright and Tien Tran, former members of an elite intelligence gathering team active in Afghanistan, Iraq, and places still classified, now make their living through Wright & Tran, a private investigation service that tracks errant spouses, identifies dishonest employees, and, just occasionally, takes on more significant cases that allow them to use all their former skills. When siblings Zoe and Michael Sterling insist that their middle-aged parents have gone missing, Kara and Tien are at first skeptical and then quickly intrigued; the father, ex-intelligence analyst Chris Sterling, appears to be involved with an enigmatic Russian thug. Using less-than-orthodox methods and the services of ex-colleagues with highly specialized talents, Wright and Tran take on the case. But the truth they uncover is far from simple.

"If indie authors are finally to lose the mantle of somehow being less than traditional authors, then we must ensure the products we are releasing are comparable to those coming from the Big Five."
The book follows two parallel investigations: one with Kara and Tien using their methods and one with the police, using more conventional means. In the end, they converge in a maelstrom of action.

Do you have a background in intelligence?

I grew up in the coastal town of Larne, Northern Ireland, and left to join the Royal Air Force at age 18. I was originally trained as an aircraft technician before being commissioned as an intelligence officer. I served for a total of two decades and within Intelligence I specialized in antisubmarine warfare and later was a qualified targets officer. My last tour was as an instructor at the Defence Intelligence and Security School, now part of the Joint Intelligence Training Group within the Defence College of Intelligence. The Wright & Tran series aims to blend real intel techniques with a generous helping of fiction in a way that blurs the lines and enhances the action and adventure. I am fortunate that I maintain contacts within the intelligence world so I can keep up to date with the latest equipment and ideas.

You self-publish all your books seemingly without hesitation. Why are you such a fan of being an indie author?

I have written extensively about my choice to independently publish my novels, the professionalism of the independent author scene, and subsequently why I made the move into establishing an independent publishing assistance service for other authors. I am passionate about the freedom and flexibility the new publish-on-demand technologies bring to the world of writers, but am equally appalled at the lack of an agreed set of (and, yes, I understand they would have to be self-imposed) regulatory standards across the discipline. If indie authors are finally to lose the mantle of somehow being less than traditional authors, an attitude still sadly widespread in some more “snobbish” areas of the business, then we must ensure the products we are releasing are comparable to those coming from the Big Five.

Yes, we will still struggle with marketing and distribution models, but our books need to be as professional a product as they can be. That’s why I am a partner member of the Alliance of Independent Authors and was very honored to be asked on to Ingram Spark’s advisory panel for indie authors. We should embrace the potential lessening of the power of the traditional publishing gatekeepers, yet we must figure out a way of ensuring this democratization of publishing does not diminish the reader’s experience.