Sea Defences shorlisted for Paul Torday Memorial Prize

Hilary Taylor’s Sea Defences, which we published in January 2023, has been shortlisted for the Paul Torday Memorial Prize, it was announced today.

The prize, administered by the Society of Authors, was set up in honour of the author of the novel Salmon Fishing in the Yemen. It is open to debut novelists over the age of 60.

Powerful mystery

Set on the North Norfolk coast, Sea Defences tells the story of a trainee vicar struggling to bond with her flock. She learns the terrifying power of the North Sea when her six-year-old daughter goes missing on the beach.

It’s a beguiling and atmospheric exploration of grief and loss, but it also has a powerful mystery at its heart, with strong echoes of the TV drama Broadchurch.

Alison Moore, author of the Booker-shortlisted The Lighthouse, called it ‘a compelling and powerful debut’ while Saga Magazine called it ‘a stunning debut’.

Crackling with imagination

Hilary Taylor is a retired teacher who lives in Suffolk. She was the winner of the Bridport Prize for Flash Fiction in 2022.

Sea Defences began life as a prize-winning short story, placed third in the Bath Short Story Award. It is one of five novels shortlisted for the Paul Torday Prize.

Judge Gaby Koppel, a previous runner-up for the same award, said: ‘All of them challenge the clichés about ageing by showing that mature minds can master the art of writing fiction, but also go beyond that, entering into fresh territory to produce original work, crackling with imagination and ideas.‘

The winner will be announced on 20 June.