Stephanie Oakes is having quite the summer.
The Spokane novelist, who had her debut novel, “The Sacred Lies of Minnow Bly,” turned into a drama series that debuted last month on Facebook Watch, is now a finalist for the Washington State Book Award.
Her second novel, “The Arsonist,” will compete in the category of Books for Young Adults (ages 13 and up). The book, released in August 2017 from Dial Books, centers on a teenage girl, Molly, whose mother killed herself, supposedly, and whose father is a convicted arsonist set to be executed. With the help of her friend Pepper Al-Yusef, she sets out to discover the truth about her mother, who she believes is still alive, and the fate of East German resistance fighter Ava Dreyman.
She’ll be competing against “Breakfast with Neruda” by Laura Moe, of Lynnwood (Merit Press); “This Impossible Light” by Lily Myers, of Seattle (Philomel Books); “Girls Like Me” by Nina Packebush, of Lummi (Blink); and “The Girl Who Wouldn’t Die” by Randall Platt, of Port Orchard (Sky Pony Press).
Oakes, who was among the participants at the Northwest Passages Book Club event on Wednesday celebrating The Spokesman-Review’s Summer Stories series, is the only Spokane author, and in fact the only author living east of the Cascades, to be nominated for this year’s awards.
The winners will be announced Oct. 13 at the Seattle Central Library. The book award program is a project of the Washington Center for the Book, a partnership of The Seattle Public Library and Washington State Library, supported with a grant from the Amazon Literary Partnership. Each category’s winner will receive a $500 honorarium.
The past few years have been good for Spokane-area writers in this contest, with wins in the fiction category by Shawn Vestal, Sharma Shields and Bruce Holbert. Other local winners in recent years include Tod Marshall for poetry and Paul Lindholdt for biography/memoir.
Another recent Northwest Passages Book Club pick, Nancy Pearl’s “George and Lizzie,” is also a nominee, in the fiction category. Pearl, Seattle’s world famous former librarian, spoke with Spokane readers about her debut novel in January.