By Debra Downey, Senior Editor
The accolades continue to pile up for author Ross Pennie and his sleuth Dr. Zol Szabo.
The second installment in Pennie’s medical thriller series earned the Bookworm Award for Fiction at the 19th annual Hamilton Literacy Awards last month. Both books in Pennie’s series, Tainted in 2009 and Tampered, in 2012, have now claimed the same prize.
Pennie said the boost of confidence from earning the award encourages him to “keep going” in his literary pursuits.
“It (the award) keeps me writing,” said Pennie. “It means I am doing something worthwhile...it’s not just my mother saying, ‘Good job.’”
And while Tampered was garnering the attention of publishers and his peers, Pennie was “writing non-stop" to finish off the as-yet-unnamed third book featuring the always entertaining Szabo. Set to make its way on to book shelves in 2013, Pennie’s prose are once again located on familiar soil and based on real circumstances plucked from newspaper headlines.
“Zol is seconded to serve as the medical officer of health in Norfolk County and confronted with all the big-time players related to the illicit tobacco trade,” said Pennie. “He has to solve an outbreak of deaths related to it.”
Praise for the Ancaster resident’s past two books have centered on his ability to create suspenseful and edgy plots and characters, with absorbing descriptions that create a strong sense of place.
Currently a practising physician and an infectious-disease specialist at Brantford General Hospital, Pennie started writing at age 10, when he chronicled a solo four-day train trip across the Prairies and Rockies. In his 2004 award-winning memoir, The Unforgiving Tides, he detailed his trials as a newly graduated medical student working in Papua New Guinea.
The Hamilton Literary Awards have been hosted for the past 19 years by the Hamilton Arts Council to advocate for literary arts and writers in the Hamilton region. Other winners include J.S. Porter, who earned the Judy Marsales Real Estate Brokerage Award for the non-fiction book Lightness and Soul; Amanda Jernigan with Groundwork won the Bryan Prince Bookseller Award for poetry book; the Reliable Life Insurance Award for children and young adult book went to Deborah Ellis for True Blue; the Line Art Consulting Award for short article went to J.S. Porter for Duras; Amy Kenny with Chocolate Season picked up the Epic Books Award for short story; Marilyn Gear Pilling’s The Dog earned the Seraphim Editions Award for individual poem.