The finalists for the Bram Stoker Awards, presented by the Horror Writer's Association, came out last week. I won the Bram Stoker Award for First Novel in 2005, but it’s been crickets since. In the intervening years I've done a lot of writing and become better because of it. This years nomination marks the third time in five years I’ve been a finalist -- for Superior Achievement in Long Fiction, Short Fiction, and now, Fiction Collection. Interestingly enough, the works that were nominated for Long Fiction and for Short Fiction are in the Collection that has been nominated.
Here’s my Bram Stoker Award history by year:
2005: Scarecrow Gods by Weston Ochse2008: Miranda by John R. Little
- The Shallow End of the Pool by Adam-Troy Castro
- Redemption Roadshow by Weston Ochse
- The Confessions of St. Zach by Gene O'Neill2009 : "In the Porches of My Ears" by Norman Prentiss
And now for 2011
Connolly, Lawrence C. — Voices: Tales of Horror
Fowler, Christopher — Red Gloves: The London Horrors
Kiernan, Caitlin R. — Two Worlds and In-Between
Morton, Lisa — Monsters of L.A.
Oates, Joyce Carol — The Corn Maiden and Other Nightmares
Ochse, Weston — Multiplex Fandango
|Borrowed from Lawrence Connolly's site|
It’s an exceptionally strong field.
Lisa Morton has already won Bram Stoker Awards in the last few years for Superior Achievement in First Novel, Anthology, Long Fiction, and Short Fiction. An HWA officer since at least 2005, she’s also won the President Richard Laymon Award, twice. If I was a betting man, Lisa would win this one a well.
Caitlin’s work is always impeccable. She was nominated in 1998 for her First Novel SILK, but lost out to Mike Marano (although Silk did win an International Horror Guild Award, as well as the Barnes and Nobles Maiden Voyage Award). She did win three other IHG Awards and was a James Tiptree Jr, Award Honoree. Incredibly, she’s had over 20 award finalist nominations.
Joyce Carole Oats, who has appeared on Oprah and every other television show and magazine of import, was nominated in 2000 for Long Fiction, but lost out to Steve and Melanie Tem’s ‘Man on the Ceiling.’ But that was one of the only times this sensational luminary has found herself in someone else’s shadow. Just take a look at this list compiled by Wikipedia.
· 1968: M. L. Rosenthal Award, National Institute of Arts and Letters - A Garden of Earthly Delights
· 1973: O. Henry Award - "The Dead"
· 1990: Rea Award for the Short Story
· 1996: Bram Stoker Award for Novel - Zombie
· 1996: PEN/Malamud Award for Excellence in the Art of the Short Story
· 2003: Kenyon Review Award for Literary Achievement
· 2011: World Fantasy Award for Best Short Fiction - Fossil—Figures
Yeah. Notice that Bram Stoker Award for Novel? She's won that, too.
Then of course there’s Christopher Fowler. I just love his work. Roofworld is just a terrific creation and I covet my signed copy of Paperboy. Chris has been nominated for many awards and is winner of the Edge Hill prize 2008 for 'Old Devil Moon' and the Last Laugh prize 2009 for 'The Victoria Vanishes'. On top of that he's a swell guy.
Last but not least is Lawrence C. Connelly. A writing instructor and visiting professor at Seton Hill, he’s been well published the last few years. Although I haven’t read his work (I will now), I’ve heard terrific things about it.
So as you can see, by the credentials held by the other nominated folks, I don’t have a chance in Hell.
But let's look at the Bram Stoker Award for a moment. What does the award do for you if you win? When I won for First Novel in 2005, the skies didn’t open up, publishers didn’t begin calling, agents didn’t flock to my door, and not a single woman I passed by lifted her blouse to show me her breasts. So what good is the award? It looks handsome on the shelf in my office. If a burglar came in and I couldn’t get to my Ruger long barrel .357 magnum fast enough, I could use it as a weapon. I could bang it against my computer the next time it hangs.
But in all seriousness, here’s what I think. I believe that to come this far you have to have demonstrated a certain amount of ability to tell a story that is at once memorable and accessible. I also think that if you make the final ballot, you’ve managed to hit on something a little bit better than everyone else – probably talking the literary equivalent of a millimeter. Having the membership and the additions jury tell you this is pretty cool, too.
It does make me happy inside. It’s a warm fuzzy feeling. Because I do love and appreciate my Bram Stoker Award. In addition to it being a possible weapon, it symbolizes to me that for one fine moment I achieved an excellence that moved other people to point to me and say, "Hey! Look at that guy. Look at what he did! It's awesome!" And because of that, when I sit at the Awards Ceremony in SLC next month, I’ll be pretty nervous. Because even if I don’t have a chance in Hell, there’s one thing that I do know… even a blind squirrel can find a nut on a clear day in March.
Good luck to all of you. I’m humbled to be amongst you. I hope we all win.