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SA author unable to collect literary award

  • TaliBevanFrank1
Writing novels was Bevan Frank’s life-long ambition, but when he was awarded the 2018 IndieReader Award for Popular Fiction at the Book Expo America for his first novel, he wasn’t able to receive it in person. Just a couple of weeks before the event, this young Cape Town-born author had a stroke.
by TALI FEINBERG | Jun 14, 2018

“I would have loved to attend the ceremony in New York in June, but, as a consequence of the stroke, I was unable to fly anywhere,” Frank said. “It’s not the first time I’ve missed receiving an award in person. When I was awarded ‘best writer’ by the [UK’s] Institute of Internal Communication, I didn't know that I had been shortlisted and, although invited to attend the award lunch in London, I didn’t go!”

Not being at the event hasn’t diminished the importance of the recognition. “It was always my childhood dream to write a novel, and completing The Mind of G-d was the fulfilment of this,” he told the SA Jewish Report. “It’s been a long road, but nothing is impossible if you set your mind to it. As the great quote from Madiba goes, ‘It always seems impossible until it is done’.”

He said having a stroke was “a huge shock”. “I’m in my early 40s, so it came completely out of the blue. I wasn’t in any risk category for strokes. I don’t have high cholesterol, I don’t have high blood pressure, I’m not overweight, I’m relatively fit, and I don’t smoke.”

Frank grew up in Cape Town, was educated at Herzlia, and completed a BA degree in English and Political Studies and a postgraduate LLB at the University of Cape Town (UCT). “Growing up in the Cape Town Jewish community, I was always encouraged by my parents, friends, and family to pursue my writing. Attending Herzlia built on this support and encouragement,” said Frank. “We were taught to question things and to challenge and debate the facts. This way of reasoning and thinking definitely helped prepare me to conduct research, which is important for any author.

“I’ve been writing since as far back as I can remember. From the age of eight, I would have letters published in local newspapers,” he recalls. “I used to also write stories about various characters This was the beginning of my writing road, paving the way to being editor of the school newspaper, matric yearbook, and the SAUJS newspaper at university, and then ultimately into the professional domain.”

After qualifying as an attorney, he decided to follow his passion for writing and editing, and in 2014, he moved with his wife and their three kids to the UK, where he took up a job in corporate communications.

His book is a thriller set in Cape Town. A mysterious black box is stolen from UCT. When the professor working on the black box project disappears, it is up to his daughter, Liz Greene, the novel’s protagonist, to find out what happened to her father and his groundbreaking research. Is it a coincidence that the president of the US is in Cape Town at the same time, or is there something more sinister at play? As events unfold, Liz and her friend Tim Fletcher, suddenly find themselves fleeing for their lives.

While doing research for his novel, he came across a real-life project by the Institute of Noetic Sciences, which researches how beliefs, thoughts, and intentions affect the physical world. The project explores whether there is an invisible consciousness that connects all of humanity, and if there is, if we could we somehow measure it and use it to predict the future.

“At the core of the project is a black box that has been affected by major global events, including Princess Diana’s funeral and 9/11. As I waded deeper into my research, I knew that this subject matter had to be shared, and what better way to do it than amidst an exciting thriller, with intriguing characters in a Cape Town setting! I enjoy reading thrillers, so the book I was going to write was always going to be a thriller. I’m inspired by authors like Dan Brown, Frederick Forsyth and David Baldacci,” he said.

The Cape Town setting has been well-received by international readers. “People overseas who once lived in South Africa tell me the book takes them down memory lane in terms of location and geography, while those who have never been to South Africa say that they definitely want to come and explore the country themselves. I always feel excited when I hear this, as one of my goals in setting the novel in Cape Town was to expose international readers to what I think is one of the most beautiful parts of the world,” said Frank.

This is not the first award he has won for the novel. It was also the Judges’ Choice Award at the Killer Nashville Silver Falchion Awards in the US, and a finalist in the Best Thriller and Best Fiction First Novel categories at the same awards.

“I’m aiming for my book to be as widely read as possible. Winning the award for popular fiction shows the potential for readers around the world to read my thriller, to discover Cape Town and South Africa and, at the same time, to learn about some of the fascinating factual themes embedded in the fiction,” said Frank. “Awards like these are vital for independent authors, and show that new authors can be a force to be reckoned with and can be placed on an equal footing with the more traditionally-established household names.”

Still reeling from his stroke, he said: “I’m recovering and getting continuous rehab. It’s been tough, and recovery is slow, but I’ve got to take it day by day, go through the motions, and have faith that it will all work out in the end.”

Andrew Russman, a neurologist and the medical director of the Comprehensive Stroke Centre at the Cleveland Clinic in Ohio, said that up to 25% of strokes under the age of 45 are caused by a dissecting blood vessel in the neck. This is a small tear in a big blood vessel that causes a clot to form and travel to the brain. “Other stroke causes linked to a younger age include migraine, pregnancy, birth control pills, and smoking.”

Frank said having a stroke taught him that life is short. “I know that this is a cliché and people say it often, but this stroke has reinforced the fact that our time on this planet is limited. Life is there for us to embrace and enjoy. I’m going to be living more in the present wherever I can, and will be appreciating each and every day,“ he said.

  • The book is available as an ebook on Amazon Kindle and from the iStore. The paperback is available through Amazon UK, which delivers to South Africa.

1 Comment

  1. 1 Terrence Davis 16 Jun
    Yasher koach; may you make a speedy and complete recovery.

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