Winning Year: 1970 Author: Leon Garfield & Edward Blishen Title: The God Beneath the Sea
Longman Current Publisher: Format: ISBN: Out of print
The story encompasses two great events; the first fall of the god Hephaestus, hurled out of Olympus by his mother Hera for his ugliness; and his second fall, when this misshapen artist-god is rejected by Zeus for daring to accuse his father of brutal cruelty.
Leon Garfield studied art in his youth, but his studies were interrupted by the outbreak of World War Two. He joined the British Army Medical Corps, and met his future wife, Vivien Alcock, while posted in Belgium. Vivien would go on to become a well-known children's author in her own right. After the war he worked as a biochemical laboratory technician in a London hospital, writing in his spare time until the 1960s, when he became successful enough to write full time.
Edward Blishen was a conscientious objector, although he came from a long line of soldier ancestors. Edward's father served in the First World War, from which he returned wounded, suffering from shell shock and silent about his experiences; he couldn't understand Edward's decision not to serve.
Leon and Edward described their work together in the Junior Bookshelf, August 1971, "We wrote together, much of the time. One of us would actually commit the words to paper. There were often long silences. These might be broken, not by a grave suggestion as to further text, but by some wild burst of laughter. Much of the matter we were dealing with was most grim and tense. Laughter - and some schoolboyish joking - helped. So did music. On one occasion we went to the London Zoo to inspect the aquarium. We were brooding over the first chapter, and the childhood of Hephaestus beneath the sea. It seemed to us that it might help if we stared at the tropical fish and filled our imaginations. It was an agreeable expedition."