Sam Wilson King of the Novel Idea in South Africa
Sam Wilson is South Africa's first award-winning mobilist with a clear majority: 38.5% of the readers' votes. Wilson's story Prestige Animals kept Novel Idea readers hooked to their phones for their daily updates.
The Novel Idea pilot, which launched on 7 July 2008, has been groundbreaking in so many ways: it's apparently the first time short fiction has been specifically commissioned for delivery via mobile phones, it's been a unique way to promote edgy professional South African writers (all originally published in print or as screenwriters) and it's the first time original Afrikaans content has been published on mobile. The winning story was determined entirely by public vote, highlighting the interactivity and openness of the cellphone platform.
Prestige Animals is a rollicking comedy adventure involving an animal smuggler, his reprobate brother, an angry badger and a crocodile-coveting drug lord. Packed with gags and cliffhangers, it wins Wilson R8000, sponsored by Vodacom.
"It was one of the most enjoyable writing challenges I can think of," said Wilson, "being asked to make a story that had to be unrelentingly entertaining." He added, "All the stories were wonderful, and as snappy as you'd expect from such great writers."
The runner-up position was shared between Ghost Girl by Lauren Beukes, Winona Forever by Sarah Lotz and City Fun by Stephen Simm. They share R2000, also from Vodacom.
The stories are now available in full through Novel Idea (until the end of September 2008). To register, SMS the word NOVEL to 33879, follow the link to the WAP site, click on 'new users register here' and send through your cellphone number.
Round two of Novel Idea will be launched before the end of the year. The lineup of local authors will be announced shortly.