That, my friends, is the sound an award makes when it flies right past my head and into the arms of someone else. I’ve gotten real familiar with it lately.
A month or so ago I experienced a flurry of self-esteem when Pandemonium suddenly was nominated for three, count ’em three, awards: The Locus Award for best first n0vel, the Shirley Jackson award for best dark fantasy or horror novel, and the Mythopoeic Award, for a book that was… mythopoeic.
The worse thing? I can’t even be mad. Not even a little. I mean, the nominations mean that some panel of people somewhere actually read the book. That is no small thing. Also, I lost to really good writers, including Paul Melko, a (former) friend. (Just kidding, Paul. I still still love you. Just stop calling me to tell me how the Locus Award smells.) (Evidently, like buttered popcorn and the tears of children.)
And at Readercon a couple weeks ago, I was at the awards ceremony in person. Here’s a picture Ellen Datlow took of me and my agent, Martha Millard, just before the ceremony started, when my heart was giddy with foolish hope:
See those arms behind my head? And that hand that looks like it’s going to grab my ear lobe? Jeff Ford owns those appendages. Jeff’s a writer’s writer, and The Shadow Year, also up for best novel, is one of his strongest books. You can see where this is going. Frankly, if for some reason they’d given the award to Pandemonium, I wouldn’t have been able to look Jeff in the eye. I’d still have taken the award though–I’m not crazy. Also, I would have run from the room with it. I like my lobes.
But the cool thing about the Jackson award is that they give all the nominees an engraved rock. You know, because Jackson wrote “The Lottery?” The one with the stoning? Yeah, that one you read in high school. Anyway, the rock is my new favorite thing. I’m going to throw it at my computer screen to ensure a good harvest of fiction this fall.
On to the Mythopoeic. I couldn’t be there, but I learned via the Interwebs that I was not the winner. I think they would have called or something if I’d won, right? The award went to Carol Berg, who — and this is getting annoying — is also extremely, extremely nice. What’s the deal? Is there no one for me to hate in this field? I’m sure there is. I’ll work up some hate for somebody at some point.
Anyway, it was a lovely run, and honestly, I’m just thrilled to be on the same ballot with those writers. Several people at Readercon told me they’d dug Pandemonium, and several more said they were just about to read it. (Hey, I’m not going to call them liars, but I say that all the time about books that will never get off my nightstand.)
And now, on to the next novel. While I was at Readercon, Del Rey sent me a box of the advanced reader copies of The Devil’s Alphabet. Copies are already winging their way across the country into the hands of reviewers. It’s a lovely time to be optimistic. And soon I’ll be able to share news about several new projects: a short story, a novella, and a new novel deal — as soon as I get those contracts signed.
I’m out of time, and I still haven’t talked about the great kids I met at the Penn State Young Writer’s Workshop. Okay, more later.