Posted by: Lisa Hill | September 24, 2020

2020 Seizure Viva La Novella winners: Late Sonata by Bryan Walpert and Dark Wave, by Lana Guineay

As readers know, I am a real fan of the annual Seizure Viva La Novella competition.  You can read the history of this prize at the Seizure website, but the prize is basically publication.  With support from the Copyright Agency Fund the winning entries are developed through the process of contracting, manuscript development, author support and editing, through to print and post-publication promotion.  They’ve had fantastic judges because I’ve read nearly all the winners and never been disappointed.

Well, this year Seizure introduced something new: you could pre-order the two winners beforehand.  How could I resist?

And with the ink barely dry on the announcement of the 2020 winners, there the books were in my post office box this morning!

Late Sonata is by Brian Walpert. His website tells me that he is a poet, fiction writer, scholar, essayist and editor.

His work, encompassing seven books,  is characterized by an interest in marrying intellect to feeling, often employing as one reviewer observed, “the language and the prism of science and philosophy to try to rein in and explain the vicissitudes of life.” His work is notable for its interest in structure and for a compression that rewards multiple readings.

The judges praised Late Sonata

…for its “seamless melding of the emotional and the intellectual, its brilliant evocations of music and literature and a structure that offers both suspense and humour,” characterizing it as “remarkable for its polish and sophistication.”

This is the blurb:

With his wife suffering from Alzheimer’s, Stephen reluctantly edits her final book, a study of Beethoven’s sonatas, even as he still grieves the loss of their son.

Each day he escapes into his own work: a novel about an experimental treatment that reverses ageing. But when he discovers in his wife’s papers a clue to an unwelcome secret, Stephen is forced to confront his past and reconsider the truths about his family.

Bryan Walpert’s novella is an intimate portrait of marriage, infidelity and the legacies of memory.

Lana Guineay’s novella is called Dark Wave. Her website tells me that she’s a freelance writer and editor based in Adelaide.

Her fiction has appeared in Going Down Swinging, Anthology of Australasian Stories, and the 2019 Swinburne Microfiction award, and she also edited Wake, an anthology of poetry and short stories.  Previously Senior Editor at ASOS Australia (a fashion site), she’s written for The Guardian, Yen magazine, Junkee, The Adelaide Review, and Right Angle Studios. She also works with brands across editorial, digital marketing, and content direction.

This is the blurb for Dark Wave:

George hasn’t heard from his ex, Paloma, since she returned to her family home on Songbird Island in the Whitsundays. Now she’s asking for his help to uncover the mystery of who is stealing the family’s wealth, but what they discover is much worse than a case of fraud.

With luscious prose and a sumptuous setting, Lana Guineay’s debut novella is a brilliant reworking of the classic crime novel.

The striking artwork for these two novellas is by Sam Paine. As you can see from his home page his distinctive style has featured on all these Viva La Novella winners’ covers … including the cover for the Stella shortlisted novel The Fish Girl.

If you’re looking for something to read for Novellas in November, here they are, available for a song ($6.99, I kid you not)  from Seizure Online.





  1. The covers are certainly striking, I love them!


  2. What a bargain. I like the sound of the second book a lot.


    • They are so cheap, even with postage!


      • Well, I’ve just bought 5! I’m a bit confused though… I got links to download digital copies (which I have done and converted into Kindle friendly files) – do they post out hard copies too?


  3. Those covers are stunning.


    • I think Late Sonata is particularly good, showing the disintegration of the mind and the self as dementia takes hold, and yet the person is still there.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. […] that this setting matters, of course, Late Sonata is a fine story and it was co-winner of the 2020 Seizure Viva La Novella Prize.  It’s just that I was expecting it to be set in New Zealand and was puzzled when hints […]


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