Archive for the ‘ Awards ’ Category

KNOW A NOMINEE

Prior to the Bram Stoker Awards ® this year, volunteers within the Horror Writers Association began a series of interviews called “Know a Nominee,” in which final ballot nominees of the various award categories were asked a series of questions to provide readers insights and information about the nominees and their work. Some of these interviews were posted on the official Horror Writers Association’s Facebook page (I’m not sure if any made it onto the HWA website or newsletter, as they have in the past) and for a while it was going well. This is typically a great series of interviews. Unfortunately, because this is a volunteer-run organization, life sometimes gets in the way for volunteers, and well-loved projects, like this one, get pushed to the back burner, forgotten like a pot of previously-boiled hot dogs found floating in cold water the next morning. My own interview was for The Library of the Dead, which was nominated (and eventually won) for Superior Achievement in an Anthology.

As it turns out, a handful of interviews took place this year (some posted, most not), and sometime between pre- and post-Stoker season this interview project sort of disappeared into the ether. A handful of interviewees (like me) were left scratching our heads, wondering if the interviews were ever going to be published as the first StokerCon drew near. And then that date flew by, and a few others, and then a dozen more. What happened to the interviews? Upon asking about this very question within the organization, this prompted more confusion among members: “I was never interviewed…” and “What happened with the Know a Nominee interviews?” and “Interviews?” and my own question of “Since the Know a Nominee interviews sort of fizzled out, can we post our interviews elsewhere so they don’t go wasted?” (or something like that). Apparently, not all nominees this year were interviewed, which is too bad… This is a fun part of the award season, where you really “get to know” the nominees in the various categories (hence the name). For me, this interview series is an opportunity to get to know those outside the con scene (which is where we really get to know each other).

Know a Nominee was left abandoned mid-stride this year because of understandable, unforeseen happenstances in the lives of organization volunteers (it happens), yet here we are now, well past StokerCon and the Bram Stoker Awards ®, and there are interviews waiting to be exposed. There are shriveled hot dogs floating in cold water at the back of the stove, and they either need to be reheated and finally served, stored for later consumption, or thrown out.

After reaching out to the Horror Writers Association, those interviewed (and still stuck in interview limbo) were told we could use these Know a Nominee interviews elsewhere on the interwebs, if we so pleased. Three options: throw it out, store for later, or reheat and serve now. Interviews take time away from other projects we could be working on, so why let them go to waste? Why not put them out there? Who cares if it’s still hot or not, luke-warm, cold… Okay, yeah, interviews are best served hot, but so what. Most of the forgotten interviews run between 1,000 and 2,000 words (I have only asked four others, so you will have to deal with that estimate); mine runs about 1,600. So, without further ado, here is my reheated, barely palpable Know a Nominee interview, which was conducted by Brock Cooper, a member of the Horror Writers Association.


Please describe the genesis for the idea that eventually became the work for which you’ve been nominated. What attracted you most to the project?

The Library of the Dead was conceived by the collaborative minds of a gruesome twosome: Gene O’Neill and Gord Rollo. They happened upon Chapel of the Chimes, a crematory and columbarium in Oakland, next to the beautiful Mountain View Cemetery. It’s a massive labyrinthine building, and within its walls are the ashes of over a hundred thousand of California’s dead, most of which are contained within incendiary urns on shelves reaching from floor to ceiling, three stories high. But these are not ordinary urns. Most are brass, or golden, and they are shaped like books, and because of the building’s unique interior design, most of the rooms (and their libraries) are lit naturally by the sun through stained glass, some entire rooms glowing gold. It’s a wonderful place, and I highly recommend putting it on your list to see if you’re in the California Bay Area. There are gardens inside, and fountains, and other treasures, but the books make this place unique. What if each “book” not only held the ashes of the dead, but their stories as well? What happens when opened? What if there’s a ghostly librarian who wanders the halls at night, a caretaker of sorts? That’s the premise of the anthology Gene and Gord wanted to make. Somehow it landed in my lap. And somehow I was convinced to write “The Librarian,” the intertwining story linking the tales together. And now I’m proud to see a book about this library of the dead nominated for the Bram Stoker Award ® for anthologies, along with the story/introduction by Norman Partridge called “Special Collections,” which is up for long fiction.

What was the most challenging part of bringing the concept to fruition? The most rewarding aspect of the process? 

Each story in the anthology is something unique, written by different writers with entirely different voices, and some collaborative, such as Mary SanGiovanni and Brian Keene’s “The Last Thing’s to Go,” or “Fault Lines” by Christopher Golden and Tim Lebbon. Different ashes. Different stories. Each golden book within the library had to contain a different story that needed opening, with characters ultimately finding their way back to the library, and that was the only common ground when I first started this book. Bringing the stories together into something cohesive required stylistic illustrations (which were created to perfection by the wonderful GAK) to help fuel the reader’s imagination, and photography of the real library of the dead in California, as well as “The Librarian” piece to help tie the stories together, which is its own story within the anthology. As you move through the book, this second-person narrative guides you along, your own personal librarian pulling golden books from shelves and opening them for you as you are guided from room to room, exploring the ‘tales the ashes tell’ (which happens to be the final story by Gary A. Braunbeck), until you realize you’re not only lost within the labyrinth of golden books, but becoming part of the library itself. The anthology contains black and white photography I took of Chapel of the Chimes, and 17 original illustrations by GAK (all inspired by the photography; if you look closely, you’ll see some of it captured within the art). All of these things had to be fused together seamlessly to make The Library of the Dead, which turned out to be quite a beautiful golden book. The most rewarding aspect of this process? Well, the book can be read like a novel, with each unique story serving as a different chapter of something larger. Something difficult that happened along the way was the loss of J.F. Gonzalez, to whom the book is dedicated. One of his final stories is in this book, called “It’s Getting Closer,” and GAK created a special illustration for him at the end of the book.

What do you think good horror/dark literature should achieve? How do you feel the work for which you’ve been nominated fits into or helps give shape to that ideal?

All good literature, dark or not, should move the reader emotionally. Good literature should fling one’s emotional state around until left exhausted. Without emotion, we are nothing. Horror, when done well, evokes fear, dread, uneasiness, terror, anxiety, all sorts of things … And when done well, the reader shouldn’t even notice it’s happening to them until it’s too late, until they set the book down, perhaps swearing a single word under their breath. All they know is that the pages kept flipping by as they got battered and got lost in the story (or stories), which is the whole point of a book. Good literature should spark memories: loss, pain, hope, failure, redemption, sacrifice, and I could go on for pages and pages about everything a book should do to its reader, but I won’t. What I think makes The Library of the Dead work so well is that it makes the reader part the book itself, pulls them along from tale to tale, and I think that’s why so many people have reacted positively. Some readers skip around anthologies, looking for familiar names or whatnot, reading those stories first before reading others, and some jump from story to story in no particular order. If you do that with The Library of the Dead, you are missing out. The book is designed to be read from cover to cover, first page to last page. The book is a journey, and the reader is part of the journey. They should be pulled inside this golden book and trapped inside with its ashes.

I’m curious about your writing and/or editing process. Is there a certain setting or set of circumstances that help to move things along? If you find yourself getting stuck, where and why?

Both my writing and editing processes are chaotic and should not be studied. My work is sporadically prolific, and periodically dormant. It’s probably unhealthy. If I find myself stuck, it means I’m not doing something right and should either do something else, or start over. Sometimes listening to music helps motivate the creative process.

As you probably know, many of our readers are writers and/or editors. What is the most valuable piece of advice you can share?

Create the most beautiful thing you can possibly create. It’s as simple as that. When you die, what do you want to leave in your wake? What do you want to be remembered for creating, a half-assed story everyone’s read before, a half-assed book no one remembers, or something completely original, something that cannot be easily forgotten?

If you’re attending WHC this year, what are you most looking forward to at this year’s event? If not attending, what do you think is the significance of recognitions like the Bram Stoker Awards?

I’m not sure I’ll make WHC this year [note: I ultimately did, and was able to spend some time holding the ashes of the great Richard Laymon], but I plan to attend StokerCon. I look forward to hanging out with those I’ve connected with over the years. I’m planning a signing event for The Library of the Dead, as well as the launching the next anthology, Chiral Mad 3. About half of the contributors in those anthologies will be attending StokerCon. Should be fun.

What scares you most? Why? How (if at all) does that figure into your work or the projects you’re attracted to? 

Memory loss scares me more than anything. Alzheimer’s. Much of my work (both my own fiction/poetry, and those I publish) is considered psychological horror. Losing one’s mind, one’s thoughts, one’s memories of who and what made them what they are … that is the most terrifying thing I can think of happening to a person, and I constantly wonder if it will happen to me. I guess that’s why I put a lot of myself in my writing. Every story I publish, whether mine or another’s, holds a different part of me, something that moved me emotionally, something I’ve pondered, a thought, a feeling, an instance. If I someday lose those memories that made me, I hope I’ll at least be able to read about those parts of me, whether I know it’s me or not.

What are you reading for pleasure lately? Can you point us to new authors or works we ought to know about? 

I don’t have as much time to read for pleasure as I’d like, so I guess I’m picky, a bit eclectic since most of what I read is unpublished. Read my anthologies and you’ll see a trend of new, emerging talent. Among the staples everyone should be reading, such as Ketchum, Braunbeck, Castle, Morrell, O’Neill and Edelman, look for work by those who have recently knocked my socks off with their writing: Josh Malerman, Emily B. Cataneo, Paul Michael Anderson, Erik T. Johnson, Damien Angelica Walters, Erinn L. Kemper, Meghan Arcuri, Mercedes M. Yardley (notice the amount of female voices in this list), Stephanie M. Wytovich, Autumn Christian, Laura Lee Bahr, Jon Michael Kelley, Christian A. Larsen, Usman T. Malik. How many names do you want? How about some voices I’ve recently discovered that have been around for a while, but I find quite remarkable: Jason V Brock, Hal Bodner, Darren Speegle, Lucy A. Snyder, Richard Chizmar, Michael McBride … I could seriously go on for a while. A full list of who you should be reading can be found in the anthologies I publish through Written Backwards and Dark Regions Press: all three Chiral Mad volumes, The Library of the Dead, Qualia Nous, the upcoming You, Human

Thank you in advance for your time and participation. 

 

BRAM STOKER AWARDS ® – THE LIBRARY OF THE DEAD

THE LIBRARY OF THE DEAD - DRP Edition* UPDATE: pre-order for the deluxe signed/limited edition of The Library of the Dead sold out within the first 24 hours, but the trade paperback is still on sale for 33% off at Dark Regions Press.

The Library of the Dead took home the Bram Stoker Award ® for Superior Achievement in an Anthology at the inaugural StokerCon in Las Vegas, NV, hosted by the Horror Writers Association.

I’m still in shock, and at a loss for words, so I’ll keep this short. StokerCon was quite an event, with a book-signing/release for both Chiral Mad 3 (which sold out!) and The Library of the Dead  (which moved quite a lot of copies). Many contributors from both anthologies were available and signed copies like mad. We filled out a bunch of  tip/signature sheets for the future deluxe limited editions coming soon from Written Backwards / Dark Regions Press, including Chiral Mad 3, The Library of the Dead, You Human (the first science fiction anthology in a long time from DRP), The Cal Wild Chronicles (Gene O’Neill), and Other Music (Marc Levinthal). The best way I can describe this mass-signing chaos is through pictures, which you can find at the end of this post.

CHIRAL MAD 3 - DRP Edition

A few copies of the deluxe signed/limited hardbound edition of Chiral Mad 3 remain, which can be pre-ordered by clicking the cover image above; this will be signed by everyone involved, except for King. Chuck Palahniuk, Glenn Chadbourne, and all other contributors will be signing these books, so you will want to pick up a copy. The trade paperback is available for purchase now if you don’t want to wait that long.

As for the conference, I served on only one panel this year alongside fellow anthologists Ellen Datlow, Thomas F. Monteleone, and Stephen Jones, attended a few readings, and kicked back to enjoy the company of longtime friends alongside my better half, Kelly Rumble (who for some reason thinks we’re getting married in a few weeks). Some of the highlights of this ultra-packed weekend include hanging out (lunches and drinks and aftermath shenanigans of celebratory Irish Car Bombs) with mentors Tom Monteleone and F. Paul Wilson (who Kelly Laymon calls ‘Pauly’), my own past HWA mentoree, Meghan Arcuri (an excellent writer), and one of the best damn female voices writing today, Erinn Kemper. And who can forget the wonderful Jack Ketchum, who I was able to dine/drink with on two occasions over the last few weeks (thanks to the World Horror Convention two weeks prior). And of course Gene O’Neill, who is always a treat, meeting Scott Edelman for the first time (after publishing a few of his works), as well as hanging with Hal Bodner, Jason V Brock, Stephanie Wytovich, Weston Ochse, Yvonne Navarro, Mercedes Yardley, Marge Simon, Lucy Snyder, Eric Guignard, Rena Mason, and I’m sure I’m missing a few names here, but basically a who’s-who of Written Backwards titles. The most horrific part of weekend was standing in front of a room packed full of my peers to accept not only one Bram Stoker Award ® for The Library of the Dead, but a second statue on behalf of Mort Castle, Sam Weller, Chris Ryall, and Carlos Guzman for Shadow Show: Stories in Celebration of Ray Bradbury, which won for Superior Achievement in a Graphic Novel. So many great memories… One of the most bizarre, perhaps, was accepting both awards on behalf of Brian Keene, who could not be there (an inside joke).

13179348_10206412283767871_5977074888684614861_nTo help celebrate the Stoker, Dark Regions Press is offering 30% off the trade paperback edition of The Library of the Dead, as well as on pre-orders for the deluxe signed/limited hardbound edition to be released later this year (limited to 26 lettered A-Z). Click the book either above or below, or click here, and enter BRAMSTOKERAWARD as your coupon code when checking out for a 30% discount. If you prefer Amazon, or you run into any problems, you can find it here.

Anyway, the chaos I promised…

13094257_586372791524828_4199841129360267590_n 13177589_10208886695232155_2789544044448287524_n 13178972_10208886696632190_4476872002815175666_n 13233135_10208886695672166_4230221943108906589_n 13237742_10208886695352158_4667083392084053505_n 13241309_10208886697752218_6995463787000119427_n 13244713_10208886697272206_8673305634396658760_n

 

THE LIBRARY OF THE DEAD - DRP Edition

 

 

2015 BRAM STOKER AWARDS® PRELIMINARY BALLOT

The Horror Writers Association recently announced the Preliminary Ballot for the 2015 Bram Stoker Awards®, and I am proud to announce that I have a few things that made the list this year, and have a bunch of friends whose work made the list as well.

The Library of the DeadThe Library of the Dead, by Written Backwards (now an imprint of Dark Regions Press), made the preliminary ballot this year. Many fingers are crossed that it finds its way onto the final ballot. Qualia Nous was officially nominated last year for Superior Achievement in an Anthology (although it bowed to Ellen Datlow’s Beyond Symmetry), and two short stories from the anthology took home statues for Superior Achievement in Short Fiction (Usman T. Malik’s “The Vaporization Enthalpy of a Peculiar Pakistani Family” and Rena Mason’s “Ruminations”).

Norman Partridge’s “Special Collections” from The Library of the Dead made the preliminary ballot as well for Superior Achievement in Long Fiction. His introduction/story starts off the anthology, and apparently impressed the HWA’s long fiction jury.

Below is the complete table of contents for The Library of the Dead, which is illustrated throughout by GAK, and concludes with a tribute/dedication to J.F. Gonzalez by Mary SanGiovanni. I’m a bit bummed not to see some of the short fiction on the preliminary ballot, but seeing Norman’s introduction/story on the ballot brought a smile. The other stories within received over 40 recommendations collectively, which is saying something…

  • Norman Partridge – “Special Collections” (long fiction)
  • Yvonne Navarro – “Those Who Shall Never Be Named”
  • Mary SanGiovanni & Brian Keene – “The Last Things to Go”
  • Roberta Lannes – “A Raven in the Dove’s Nest”
  • Kealan Patrick Burke – “I’m Not There”
  • Chris Marrs – “A Chimera’s Tale”
  • J.F. Gonzalez – “I’m Getting Closer”
  • Weston Ochse – “Reliving Through Better Chemistry”
  • Lucy A. Snyder – “Cthylla”
  • Christopher Golden & Tim Lebbon – “Fault Lines” (long fiction)
  • Rena Mason – “Jaded Winds”
  • Michael McBride – “Tears of the Dragon”
  • Erinn L. Kemper – “Phantom on the Ice”
  • Sydney Leigh – “Night Soliloquy”
  • Gene O’Neill – “Broken Lady”
  • Gary A. Braunbeck – “Tales the Ashes Tell”

At the Lazy KAlso making the preliminary ballot in the long fiction category is the first book in the Allevon series of illustrated novellas by Written Backwards: At the Lazy K by Gene O’Neill. This small book, illustrated by L.A. Spooner and introduced by Rena Mason, is causing quite the buzz, which means the Allevon series will continue. More news on the next title soon. I would also like to note that along with At the Lazy K making the preliminary ballot, and Gene having a story in The Library of the Dead (an idea conceived by the awesome duo that is Gene O’Neill and Gord Rollo), Gene O’Neill is on the preliminary ballot for Superior Achievement in a Fiction Collection for the wonderful The Hitchhiking Effect by Dark Renaissance Books, as well as for Superior Achievement in Short Fiction for his recently released chapbook for his story “The Algernon Effect.”

If you are a voting member of the Horror Writers Association, you can email written@nettirw.com to request either a digital copy or a trade paperback of the following:

1. The Library of the Dead – Superior Achievement in an Anthology.

2. At the Lazy K by Gene O’Neill – Superior Achievement in Long Fiction

3. “Special Collections” by Norman Partridge – Superior Achievement in Long Fiction

I hope to see The Library of the Dead on the final ballot alongside those I admire in the world of anthologies: Ellen Datlow (The Doll Collection), Christopher Golden (Seize the Night, which has an incredible long fiction piece called “Paper Cuts” by Gary A. Braunbeck, which also made the preliminary ballot for long fiction), Stephen Jones (Horrorology), Jonathan Maberry (X-Files: Trust No One), and Richard Thomas (Exigencies). See below for the complete list.

The long fiction category is always one of my favorites. Along with rooting for Gene O’Neill for At the Lazy K, the long fiction category this year includes Norman Partridge’s “Special Collections” from The Library of the Dead… as well as an incredible story by Scott Edelman called “Becoming Invisible, Becoming Seen” and Gary A. Braunbeck’s “Paper Cuts” and Mercedes M. Yardley’s “Little Dead Red” and other fine stories.

I’m also excited to see that Shadow Show: Stories in Celebration of Ray Bradbury made the preliminary ballot for Superior Achievement in a Graphic Novel, which Mort kindly gave me a copy of when I made a surprise visit in Chicago last October.

Who else am I going to name-drop here? Let’s see: how about Clive Barker, whose novel The Scarlet Gospels made the list, or Patrick Freivald for his novel Black Tide, or Paul Tremblay’s A Head Full of Ghosts. There’s also John Palisano’s “Happy Joe’s Rest Stop” and Damien Angelica Walters’ “Sing Me Your Scars” for short fiction. And of course fiction collections, another favorite category: along with The Hitchhiking Effect by Gene O’Neill, we have Gary A. Braunbeck’s Halfway Down the Stairs, which I’ll be reading later this week, and Lucy A. Snyder’s While the Black Stars Burn, which I’ll also be reading later this week. And of course some wonderful poetry from Bruce Boston’s Resonance Dark and Light, and Marge Simon’s Naughty Ladies, and Stephanie M. Wytovich’s An Exorcism of Angels. So much to read… so much to read…

As previously mentioned, Horror Writers Association voting members may request a PDF or print copy of The Library of the Dead (anthology), and/or At the Lazy K by Gene O’Neill (long fiction), and/or “Special Collections” by Norman Partridge (long fiction) for consideration by emailing written@nettirw.com. They will also be made available on the HWA message board.

Congratulations to everyone who made the preliminaries this year! And congratulations to those who did not make the list, but probably should have. 2015 was a great year for horror fiction. I see familiar names on the list this year, and names I don’t recognize, which is either a good thing, or a bad thing. Some I have published, some have published me, and some have shared the table of contents with yours truly in various anthologies or magazines over the years. And some, well, perhaps someday I can say I recognize those names as well.

Here is the complete list of the categories in which I have a part this year (plagiarized from the Horror Writers Association page):

Superior Achievement in an Anthology:

Michael Bailey – The Library of the Dead (Written Backwards)
Ellen Datlow – The Doll Collection: Seventeen Brand-New Tales of Dolls (Tor Books)
Shannon Delany and Judith Graves – Beware the Little White Rabbit (Leap Books, LLC)
Christopher Golden – Seize the Night (Gallery Books)
Stephen Jones – Horrorology (Quercus Publishing)
Nancy Kilpatrick and Caro Soles – nEvermore! (Edge Science Fiction and Fantasy Publishing)
Jonathan Maberry – X-Files: Trust No One (IDW Publishing)
Eric Miller – 18 Wheels of Horror (Big Time Books)
Doug Murano and D. Alexander Ward – Shadows Over Main Street (Hazardous Press)
Joseph Nassise and Del Howison – Midian Unmade (Tor Books)
Jeani Rector – Shrieks and Shivers from the Horror Zine (Post Mortem Press)
Richard Thomas – Exigencies (Dark House Press)

Superior Achievement in Long Fiction:

Gary A. Braunbeck – Paper Cuts (Seize the Night) (Gallery Books)
Ben Eads – Cracked Sky (Omnium Gatherum)
Scott Edelman – Becoming Invisible, Becoming Seen (Dark Discoveries #30)
Jeff Gunhus – The Torment of Rachel Ames (Seven Guns Press)
Lisa Mannetti – The Box Jumper (Smart Rhino Publications)
Seanan McGuire – Resistance (The End Has Come) (Broad Reach Publishing)
Gene O’Neill – At the Lazy K (Written Backwards)
Jason Parent – Dia de los Muertos (Bad Apples 2) (Corpus Press)
Norman Partridge – Special Collections (The Library of the Dead) (Written Backwards)
Mercedes M. Yardley – Little Dead Red (Grimm Mistresses) (Ragnarok Publications)

For a complete list of of the 2015 Bram Stoker Awards® Preliminary Ballot, you can visit the official release here: horror.org/9296-2/ 

Good luck, everyone!

WRITTEN BACKWARDS AWARDS ® / DRAWA

Written Backwards Awards

Also known as the DRAWA, the Written Backwards Awards ® celebrates the recognition of literary marvels. For those unfamiliar with this somewhat-annual tradition of virtual award-giving, here are the details (most plagiarized from the previous award year):

The prestigious DRAWA / AWARD is not determined by jury, not by recommendation counts of any kind, and not by a jury/rec superpac, but is decided upon by Written Backwards and its staff… meaning one person, Michael Bailey. He determines whether a literary work is DRAWA eligible by reading or looking at various readable or lookable things throughout the year, whether it be a short story, novelette, novella, novel, screenplay (which we all know is just watching a movie), soundtrack, grocery list, magazine, website article, literary journal, pretty picture/artwork, or whatever else he sees fit, mentally scores this work on a scale of suck to badass, and from that point creates a preliminary ballot in his head from which to randomly choose ballotees. From this “preliminary” ballot, he then carefully and skillfully and adverbly removes “preliminary” altogether, thus creating what is known as the Written Backwards Awards® final ballot, which may or may not have to include works from the previous year. DRAWA winners are determined from this mental list, if remembered, depending on eligibility.

There is no hindrance on publication date, as long as the publication date does not surpass the year in which an award is planned for issue. For example, if Joe King publishes an award-winning masterpiece in March 2016, he is not eligible for a 2015 award because, well, his work is from the future, and future literary works are prohibited, as mentioned somewhere in the figurative small-print. Awards can go to the dead, although they cannot be accepted in person.

Please note that all writers whose work appeared or will soon appear in Written Backwards anthologies are not only eligible for a DRAWA, but automatic recipients of the Written Backwards Awards ®. This includes the following anthologies not covered previously: Qualia Nous, The Library of the Dead, as well as the upcoming Chiral Mad 3 and You, Human. If your work appeared or will soon appear in the aforementioned anthologies, you are hereby or soonby an alumni recipient of the Written Backwards Awards ® for the given year of publication. See anthology table of contents page for a full list of alumni recipients.

So, without further ado, Written Backwards is proud to introduce the the latest winners of the Written Backwards Awards ®, also known as the DRAWA (name not yet a registered trademark). The following works were admired greatly since the last award season, and can forever be considered literary marvels from this point onward. If you haven’t read these books, do so now. I’ll even supply a direct link where you can buy these books, as well as a few kind words about each…

Slade HouseSlade HouseThere’s a reason writers such as Joe Hill, Dean Koontz, Anthony Doerr and Gillian Flynn blurbed this novel; while Cloud Atlas had its share of fictional history, science fiction, and even horror, Slade House is Mitchell’s first take on straight-up horror. Some are describing this book as our generation’s The Turn of the Screw. I read a lot of both published and unpublished dark fiction, and this is one of the finest, most well-structured short horror novels I’ve read in the last ten years. The book is a work of art, inside and out. I adore this book completely.

The Bone ClocksThe Bone Clocks
Just before so beautifully tackling the horror genre, Mitchell beautifully tackled the science fiction genre with The Bone Clocks, a novel composed of six interconnecting novella-length works. “Tackled science fiction” is not strong enough. “Crushed it” may fit better. In fact, he won the World Fantasy Award and was longlisted for the Man Booker Prize for this novel. And he should have won the Nebula, in my opinion. Again, one of the finest, most beautifully-constructed science fiction novels I’ve read in the last ten years.

The Reason I JumpThe Reason I Jump – Jon Stewart probably says it best: “One of the most remarkable books I’ve ever read. It’s truly moving, eye-opening, incredibly vivid.” And I agree 100%. This is a translation (by both David Mitchell and his wife) of a memoir by thirteen-year-old Naoki Higashida, a boy living with autism. If you want to understand autism, this is the book to read. As Stewart said, “eye-opening.” This should be required reading in schools. I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve loaned this book for someone else to read.

David MitchellSlade HouseThe Bone Clocks, and The Reason I Jump (yes, two novels and a nonfiction book from a single author made the list this year). I fell in love with Mitchell’s first novel, Ghostwritten, and then Number9Dream, and then Black Swan Green, followed by Cloud Atlas, which was adapted to the screen by the Wachowski’s, and although I haven’t read The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet, I highly enjoyed the audio book. In writing these books, which all connect in subtle ways, Mitchell has quickly become my favorite contemporary writer, hands-down. His latest three books are probably some of the most important books written in the last however-many years, and are some of the most literary/accessible works I’ve had the pleasure of reading (and re-reading, since I will be revisiting each of these books in the future). It’s probably safe to say that David Mitchell is the most important writer working today.

IQ84

IQ84 by Haruki Murakami caught my eye as I was perusing a bookstore in some airport a few years ago, mostly because of its size. This book could be a… well, a bookend, or a doorstop. It’s 1,184 pages, to be exact, which works well with the title. I’ve read this book in print, as well as listened to the audio book, and it’s a trip, a long trip, but one worth the journey. Part fantasy, part science fiction. My only regret is that I’m sure it’s lost some of its beauty in translation. If you’ve got some time to kill, kill it with this book.

Beautiful You

So Fifty Shades of Grey happened not long enough ago… Now imagine that book as not one of the worst things ever written, and imagine something better, so much, much better, written with… what’s the word… English, and then add a splash of end-of-the-world-as-we-know-it horror, and let it come from the mind of Chuck Palahniuk (Fight Club, Choke, Survivor), and you have Beautiful You (novel), probably the strangest book to win a DRAWA. Nominated last year for the Bram Stoker Award, this is… well, interesting. I guess I should let the Amazon book description do its thing: “when Penny discovers she is a test subject for a line of female sex toys so effective that women by the millions are lining up outside the stores to buy it on opening day, she understands the gravity the situation. A billion husbands are about to be replaced.” Yep. It’s like that.

Lisey's StorySince we’re on the subject of love (sort of), Stephen King wrote Lisey’s Story (novel) over ten years ago, and it’s good enough to make it on my list this year, mostly because I want people to give it a shot. I’ve read it three times now. Some people love it; others hate it. My opinion? This is Stephen King’s best novel (yeah, I said it, so what?). Even Stephen King thinks it’s his best work. It’s sort of a ghost story about the secret language of love… of all things. I’m guessing you’ve never read it. If not, read it. Now. It was up for the World Fantasy Award, as well as the Bram Stoker Award for long fiction back when the original “Lisey and the Madman” was published a few years prior to the novel.

Bird Box

Birdbox (novel) by Josh Malerman is the first book in a long while that kept me riveted, to say the least, and the book refused to be put down for a break, and every time I did (sometimes I had to), it left me wondering “what’s next?” and wanting to finish the rest of it. I’d think about it all day, wanting to get home to read more. Why? A woman and two four-year-old children float down a river, blindfolded, with someone or something out there making noises, perhaps following them. Malerman’s debut novel deserved the Stoker for first novel, in my opinion (although there was some fierce competition), and I can’t wait to see what he comes up with next.

The MartianWhether you loved it or hated it (seems to be a toss-up, either one or the other, and never anywhere in the middle), The Martian (novel) by Andy Weir made the cut for this year’s DRAWA. As of writing this, I haven’t seen the movie (although I’ve heard it’s Ridley Scott’s best thing since Alien and Blade Runner), but the book held me. I read this thing in three sittings. Plus, I love science, and this book was full of nerdy sciency stuff. If I were stranded on Mars, this would probably be close to my memoir. I guess you could say I liked it…

Burnt Tongues

I read a lot of short fiction for my anthologies (millions and millions and millions of words each year) so it’s a nice surprise to find a gem of an anthology from talented peers, such as Burnt Tongues (anthology), edited by Richard Thomas and Chuck Palahniuk. Although I’ve never heard of a single name in this book (other than its creators), this is a great collection of short fiction by some writers that should probably be a little more well-known (so give them a shot!), and an anthology deserving of the recognition its received. Kudos to Richard Thomas for putting together such a fine looking book, and to Chuck.

Head full of ghostsI wouldn’t be surprised if Paul Tremblay’s A Head Full of Ghosts (novel) takes home the Bram Stoker Award this time around. It’s a fine novel, one that gave Stephen King a scare, no less. I’d never heard of Paul Tremblay until this book was mentioned on Brian Keene’s podcast, The Horror Show with Brian Keene. Brian had enough kind things to say about this book that I gave it a read. And, well, it’s incredible. Slade House will probably be overlooked for the Stoker, so A Head Full of Ghosts would probably be my next vote.

Where We Live and DieSince I mentioned Brian Keene, and I’m sure he probably wouldn’t mind a nod, Where We Live and Die (nonfiction) made the cut this year. Brian Keene. Nonfiction. Enough said, right? This is how I like my nonfiction! Many know Brian’s work because of The Rising and The City of the Dead, or his novel about giant earthworms (all great books, by the way), but I discovered Brian by accident by reading a lesser-known novel of his called Terminal, which would make my list of all-time favorite books, if I were to make such a list. Jeff Strand‘s Pressure would probably make that list as well, which I’d consider his best book… But enough about fiction. Read this nonfiction.

The Art of Horrible PeopleThe last DRAWA this year goes to John Skipp for The Art of Horrible People (fiction collection). “Savor this book. Savor this writer.” Josh Malerman rightfully states this in his introduction. The Art of Horrible People collects Skipp’s fiction in a way I’ve never experienced before in a fiction collection, offering a reflection of our sick selves in the process, a look at just horrible we’ve become, and how beautiful that can be. Skipp is perhaps the living example that the phrase “there are no original ideas” is a load of crap. Skipp can crank out originality like it’s-not-going-out-of-style.

You have 12 new books to read (or perhaps re-read if you’ve read them already). Buy yourself something nice this holiday season. Like 12 books. And then read one each month for the next 12 months.

That’s it for this year, except…

Last year there were some special Written Backwards Awards ® given to those making a noticeable difference in the writing community. This year, Written Backwards proudly presents the DRAWA Presence, Inspiration, and Voice. (See how that works? AWARD is spelled backwards, with the subject of the award after… so, this would actually be a Presence Award, Inspiration Award, and a Voice Award… clever, right?)

Anyway, the DRAWA Presence recognizes an individual completely dedicated to the craft, someone who’s been around awhile and knows what they’re doing, and is not afraid to share that knowledge for the greater good. The DRAWA Inspiration recognizes an individual somewhat new to the craft, someone with emerging talent, a strong, literary powerhouse waiting to erupt; this is the person to watch closely. Lastly, the DRAWA Voice recognizes an individual  with a fresh, unique literary voice, someone who quite clearly knows all the rules, and is very good at breaking them; this person has their own genre of awesomeness, in other words. Who are these people?

DRAWA Presence – Mort Castle is a teacher, a counselor, a man willing to mold the future of all things literary. He is an inspiration, and he inspires.

DRAWA Inspiration – Emily B. Cataneo was first introduced to me by Jack Ketchum a few years ago when I was on the hunt for short fiction. Emily likes to send me stories with incredibly long titles, such as “A Guide to Etiquette and Comportment for the Sisters of Henley House” and “The Rondelium Girl of Rue Marseilles.” I have now published three of her stories, and all three of them are golden. Keep an eye out. Her words are beautiful.

DRAWA Voice – Paul Michael Anderson also likes to send me stories with incredibly long titles, such as “The Agonizing Guilt of Relief (Last Days of a Ready-Made Victim)” and “In the Nothing-Space, I Am What You Made Me.” And I publish every single one of them, because they are incredible.

And in case you missed last year’s Written Backwards Awards ®: http://wp.me/p2gHzu-9W 

THE LIBRARY OF THE DEAD / QUALIA NOUS / EVERYTHING ELSE

The Library of the Dead

The Library of the Dead was recently launched at the World Horror Convention in Atlanta, Georgia, where members of the Horror Writers Association, and many guests, were able to get a first look at this anthology at an hour-long Written Backwards event called “Readings and Shenanigans from The Library of the Dead and Qualia Nous.” Both anthologies were celebrated for their various awards and recognition, with both artwork and books on display (speaking of artwork, I hope to post a blog soon called “Illustrations for the Dead” to cover the beautiful artwork GAK has created for this project).

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Readings and Shenanigans for the Library of the Dead and Qualia Nous

The first half of the panel included an introduction of panelists, a short discussion covering the real library of the dead and the original conception of the anthology, how the project was acquired by Written Backwards, as well as a discussion about the photography and the artwork (by GAK) used throughout the anthology. Yvonne Navarro read from her story “Those Who Shall Never Be Named,” followed by Weston Ochse reading from his story “Living Through Better Chemistry.” 10 copies of The Library of the Dead were given out to audience members for asking questions about the anthology. Erinn L. Kemper, Chris Marrs, Rena Mason, and Lucy A. Snyder discussed their stories as well. John Everson and Sydney Leigh (Shawna Bernard) from The Library of the Dead were also in attendance.

The second half of the panel covered Qualia Nous, a literary blend of science fiction and horror. Qualia Nous was nominated for a Bram Stoker Award for Superior Achievement in an Anthology, later to be given out by the Horror Writers Association at the Bram Stoker Award ceremony, although the prize eventually went to Ellen Datlow for her anthology Fearful Symmetries. Both Usman T. Malik and Rena Mason were recognized at this panel for their Bram Stoker Award nominations for Superior Achievement in Short Fiction from this anthology (Usman for his story “The Vaporization Enthalpy of a Peculiar Pakistani Family” and Rena for her story “Ruminations”) and both later took home the prize in a tie. Marge Simon was recognized for her Rhysling Award nomination for her poem “Shutdown,” and I’m happy to report that she also recently took home that prize, which was given out by the Science Fiction Poetry Association (SFPA). Qualis Nous also recently received The Benjamin Franklin Award for Science Fiction and Fantasy (I stopped in to the award ceremony in Austin, Texas a month prior to accept the award), along with being a finalist for the Indie Book Awards for anthologies, a silver medal finalist for the Independent Publisher Book Awards, and winning the International Book Award for science fiction (also a finalist for their anthologies category), and bronze medal winner of the Foreword Reviews’ Book of the Year Awards / INDIEFAB (also a finalist for both their science fiction and horror categories).

Qualia Nous

Readings and Shenanigans for the Library of the Dead and Qualia Nous

Readings and Shenanigans for the Library of the Dead and Qualia Nous

Anyway, at the Readings and Shenanigans event, Marge Simon read her two poems from the anthology: “Shutdown” and “Tomorrow’s Femme, followed by James Chambers reading part of his story “The Price of Faces,” which sparked curiosity in Josh Malerman (author of the stellar Bird Box), which later resulted in his involvement in the upcoming Chiral Mad 3, but much of that will be covered later. Usman T. Malik, Rena Mason, Erinn L. Kemper, Patrick Freivald, Lucy A. Snyder, Jason V Brock, and William F. Nolan also discussed their stories. 10 copies of Qualia Nous were also give away to audience members asking questions about the anthology, so in total 20 books were given away to happy panel attendees at this event.

Tom Monteleone captivating the Anthocon audience

Tom Monteleone captivating the Anthocon audience

Then came Anthocon, one of my favorite conventions, organized by the Four Horsemen in Portsmouth, New Hampshire. At Anthocon, Written Backwards held another one-hour release (and re-release) event, which proved to be just as successful. At the Lazy K, the first of the new Allevon series of illustrated novellas by Written Backwards (and the latest novella by Gene O’Neill), was first up, and Gene was on hand to discuss thoroughly, along with Rena Mason, who wrote the introduction. Instead of Q&A giveaways of books, we handled things differently. Leading up to the event, those who stopped by the Written Backwards vendor table received 5 raffle tickets for each book purchased (and received a copy of At the Lazy K for only $5 (including 5 more raffle tickets)) if purchasing any book offered at the table, which also included Gene O’Neill’s most recent collection, The Hitchhiking Effect. Throughout the hour, we raffled off a few books by Gene, a few books by GAK, along with some of his artwork, freebies from the Written Backwards table, and a few books offered by Chris Marrs. And we discussed more books this time around, including At the Lazy KThe Library of the DeadQualia Nous, and the three Chiral Mad volumes.

Anthocon panel

Anthocon panel and book release

In attendance at the Anthocon panel: Thomas F. Monteleone (who did an unforgettable reading of “When I Was” from Chiral Mad 2, and has a story in Qualia Nous), Gene O’Neill (who discussed At the Lazy K and has stories in just about every Written Backwards release), Christopher Golden (who co-wrote a story with Tim Lebbon for The Library of the Dead called “Faultlines”), James Chambers (who read from his story in Qualia Nous), Kevin Lucia (who also read from his story in Chiral Mad 2), Gardner Goldsmith and Sydney Leigh (who both read some of their poetry from the upcoming Chiral Mad 3 and have stories in the various Written Backwards anthologies), Chris Marrs (who read from her story “A Chimera’s Tale” in The Library of the Dead), Rena Mason (who recently won a Stoker for her work), Meghan Arcuri (from the original Chiral Mad, and one of my fellow Borderlands boot camp grunts from long ago… which made up half the panel, actually), and of course the wonderful GAK (who illustrated The Library of the Dead and will have his hands full in future Written Backwards projects). Gord Rollo was also in attendance. He and Gene O’Neill first conceived the project after visiting the real library of the dead, a place called Chapel of the Chimes in Oakland, California.

Both conventions were incredible, and both book releases/panels were highly successful. Although I took few books with me to the World Horror Convention, nearly every book sold out at AnthoCon, which was roughly 120 pounds or so of books.

What’s next? Promoting At the Lazy K and The Library of the Dead throughout the book award season. Speaking of which, if you are a member of the Horror Writers Association and would like a copy of either of these titles for Stoker recommendation/consideration, please let me know. Send an email to written@nettirw.com to request either a trade paperback of PDF of either or both titles.

Have you seen the official book trailer for The Library of the Dead? If not, take a gander:

What’s next after all that?

Chiral Mad 3.

2014 BRAM STOKER AWARDS® PRELIMINARY BALLOT

The Horror Writers Association recently announced the Preliminary Ballot for the 2014 Bram Stoker Awards®, and I am proud to announce I have a few things that made the list this year. My story  “Fireman / Primal Tongue” made the final ballot last year for Superior Achievement in Short Fiction, so I’m hoping this year to have all three of my works published last year make the final cut in their respective categories. If you are a voting member of the Horror Writers Association, you can email written@nettirw.com to request either a digital copy or a trade paperback of the following:

1. Qualia Nous – Superior Achievement in an Anthology.

Along with the latest Written Backwards release making the ballot this year, two stories from the anthology are on the list for Superior Achievement in Short Fiction, including “The Vaporization Enthalpy of a Peculiar Pakistani Family” by Usman T. Malik (which is making some noise in the science fiction world as well), and “Ruminations” by Rena Mason. All 30 involved with this anthology are responsible, so thank you for your words. Qualia Nous is a literary blend of science fiction and horror, and people seem to dig it.

  1. Stephen King – The Jaunt (novelette)
  2. Usman T. Malik – The Vaporization Enthalpy of a Peculiar Pakistani Family *
  3. Gene O’Neill – The Shaking Man
  4. Ashlee Scheuerman – Dyscrasia
  5. Emily B. Cataneo – The Rondelium Girl of Rue Marseilles
  6. Erik T. Johnson – The Angel Chaser
  7. Ian Shoebridge – Psychic Shock
  8. D.J. Cockburn – Peppermint Tea in Electronic Limbo
  9. John R. Little – Second Chance
  10. Jon Michael Kelley – The Effigies of Tamber Square
  11. Lori Michelle – Shades of Naught
  12. James Chambers – The Price of Faces
  13. Jason V Brock – Simulacrum (novelette)
  14. Marge Simon – Shutdown / Tomorrow’s Femme (poems)
  15. Peter Hagelslag – Lead me to Multiplicity
  16. Christian A. Larsen – Cataldo’s Copy
  17. Max Booth III – The Neighborhood has a Barbeque
  18. Richard Thomas – The Jenny Store
  19. Erinn L. Kemper – Night Guard
  20. William F. Nolan – A New Man
  21. John Everson – Voyeur
  22. Pat R. Steiner – Kilroy Wasn’t There
  23. Paul Anderson – In the Nothing-Space, I Am What You Made Me
  24. Lucy A. Snyder – Dura Mater
  25. Rena Mason – Ruminations *
  26. Thomas F. Monteleone – Good and Faithful Servant
  27. Patrick Freivald – Twelve Kilos
  28. Mason Ian Bundschuh – Breathe You in Me
  29. Elizabeth Massie – 18P37-C, After Andrea Was Arrested
  30. Gary A. Braunbeck – No Fixed Address (novelette)

I hope to see Qualia Nous on the final ballot alongside those I admire in the world of anthologies: Ellen Datlow (Fearful Symmetries), Chuck Palahniuk / Richard Thomas (Burnt Tongues), and Jason V Brock (A Dark Phantastique). Not to single anyone out in the anthology category, but those three anthologies are incredible! I hope to see each of you on the final ballot this year so we can take a “final ballot selfie” holding each of these anthologies together at the Bram Stoker Awards ceremony in Florida.

Qualia Nous

2. Inkblots and Blood Spots – Superior Achievement in a Fiction Collection

Villipede Publications took on this project, which was released November 2014, and have produced something stellar. My editor, Shawna Bernard, aka. Sydney Leigh (to be published in the upcoming Written Backwards anthology The Library of the Dead), and who is also on the preliminary ballot this year for her excellent short story “Baby’s Breath,” worked her tail off to make this second collection of short fiction and poetry a work of art. Bringing on Daniele Serra to create the cover and fully-illustrate the book was ingenious (he is also on the preliminary ballot for his graphic novel with Joe R. Lansdale called I Tell You It’s Love). I cannot begin to explain how well his art meshes and brings life to my work (see images below).

A special note of thanks to Syd the Kid and Villipede Publications for making me look good. They did a great job weaving short fiction with poetry around stunning illustrations. Plus, they convinced me to include a new novelette I was working on called “Dandelion Clocks,” a tribute story to 9/11, which has somehow made it on the preliminary ballot for long fiction.

This category has some incredible competition, so I hope to make the cut. Of the fiction collections I’ve read this year, I can say that John Little’s Little by Little, Stephen Graham Jones’ After the People Lights Have Gone Off, Lucy Snyder’s Soft Apocalypses, and John F.D. Taff’s The End in all the Beginnings… well, damn, those are all great collections, and I hope Inkblots and Blood Spots is there alongside you on the final ballot.

Inkblots and Blood Spots

3. “Dandelion Clocks” – Superior Achievement in Long Fiction

What more can I say about “Dandelion Clocks” other than I feel it’s the best thing I’ve written to date. It’s my take on 9/11, about 8,400 words long, bounces around in nonlinear fashion through time from the point-of-view of a traumatized young woman, and I hope it makes the final ballot… and wins. I’m not sure I can write much better than this.

The long fiction category, like each year, is probably my favorite. I’ve watched Gary A. Braunbeck win this thing (what… 4 or 5 times now? I think he has either 8 or 9 Stokers to his name), and was at the Bram Stoker Award ceremony last May in Portland, Oregon to celebrate Gary taking home the Stoker for “The Great Pity” in Written Backward’s Chiral Mad 2 (even got to hold Gary’s envelope, thanks to F. Paul Wilson sitting next to me… who made the announcement), so to have a chance at taking home the same award for “Dandelion Clocks” would be a dream. Like I said, this is probably my favorite category. I love long fiction, and plan to publish 2 or 3 illustrated novellas next year, all from names mentioned previously on this page.

But, there’s some awesome competition. Along with rooting for “Dandelion Clocks,” I’m also rooting for “Ridin the Dawg” by Gene O’Neill, “Fishing for Dinosaurs” by Joe R. Lansdale, “Lost and Found” by Joe McKinney, “The Long Long Breakdown” by John F.D. Taff, “Ceremony of Flies” by Kate Jonez, and “Dreams of a Little Suicide” by Eric J. Guignard. All good stuff!

* If your name is not mentioned on any of the 3 lists above, it simply means I haven’t yet read your work)

Illustrations by Daniele Serra

Horror Writers Association voting members may request a PDF or print copy of Qualia Nous (anthology), and/or Inkblots and Blood Spots (fiction collection), and/or “Dandelion Clocks” (long fiction) for consideration by emailing written@nettirw.com. It is also available on the HWA message board.

A few more things to note:

Many Qualia Nous contributors (listed in bold above) are on the preliminary ballot this year in one way or another, so a special congratulations is in order for their work outside of Written Backwards. Marge Simon (with Mary Turzillo) is up for her latest poetry collection Sweet Poison, Patrick Freivald for both his novel Jade Sky and short story “Trigger Warning,” Gene O’Neill for his long fiction piece called “Ridin the Dawg,” John R. Little for his fiction collection Little by Little, Lucy A. Snyder for both her fiction collection Soft Apocalypses and nonfiction book Shooting Yourself in the Head For Fun and Profit: A Writer’s Survival Guide, Richard Thomas (with Chuck Palahniuk) for their anthology Burnt Tongues, and Jason V Brock for both his anthology A Dark Phantastique and nonfiction book Disorders of Magnitude. And, of course, Usman T. Malik and Rena Mason, previously mentioned, for their short stories in Qualia Nous.

Other past/future Written Backwards contributors are on the preliminary ballot as well, including Eric J. Guignard for his long fiction piece “Dreams of a Little Suicide” and John Palisano for his short story “Splinterette.”

Last year, Chiral Mad 2 did not make the final ballot, but “The Geminis” by John Palisano made the final ballot for Superior Achievement in Short Fiction, as well as “The Great Pity” by Gary A. Braunbeck, which took home the Bram Stoker Award for Superior Achievement in Long Fiction. Perhaps 2014 will be a good year as well!

Congratulations to everyone who made the preliminaries this year! And congratulations to those who did not make the list, but probably should have. 2014 was a great year for horror fiction. Whether or not you believe in the HWA’s means of compiling Bram Stoker Award recommendations, the preliminary ballot, or the final ballot, you cannot deny that 2014 was a great year for horror fiction. I see familiar names on the list this year, and names I don’t recognize, which is either a good thing, or a bad thing. Some I have published, some have published me, and some have shared the table of contents with yours truly in various anthologies or magazines over the years. And some, well, perhaps someday I can say I recognize those names as well.

Here’s the complete list, as plagiarized from the Horror Writers Association page:

Superior Achievement in a Novel
Tim Burke – The Flesh Sutra (NobleFusion Press)
Adam Christopher – The Burning Dark (Tor Books)
Michaelbrent Collings – This Darkness Light (self-published)
Lawrence C. Connolly – Vortex (Fantasist Enterprises)
Craig DiLouie – Suffer the Children (Gallery Books of Simon & Schuster)
Patrick Freivald – Jade Sky (JournalStone)
Chuck Palahniuk – Beautiful You (Jonathan Cape, Vintage/Penguin Random House UK)
Christopher Rice – The Vines (47North)
Brett J. Talley – The Reborn (JournalStone)
Steve Rasnic Tem – Blood Kin (Solaris Books)

Superior Achievement in a First Novel
Maria Alexander – Mr. Wicker (Raw Dog Screaming Press)
J.D. Barker – Forsaken (Hampton Creek Press)
Janice Gable Bashman – Predator (Month9Books)
David Cronenberg – Consumed (Scribner)
Michael Knost – Return of the Mothman (Woodland Press)
Daniel Levine – Hyde (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt)
Josh Malerman – Bird Box (Harper Collins)
Whitney Miller – The Violet Hour (Flux)
Chantal Noordeloos – Angel Manor (Horrific Tales Publishing)
C.J. Waller – Predator X (Severed Press)

Superior Achievement in a Young Adult Novel
Ari Berk – Lych Way (Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers)
Jake Bible – Intentional Haunting (Permuted Press)
Ilsa J. Bick – White Space (Egmont)
John Dixon – Phoenix Island (Simon & Schuster/Gallery Books)
Kami Garcia – Unmarked (The Legion Series Book 2) (Little Brown Books for Young Readers)
S.E. Green – Killer Instinct (Simon & Schuster/Simon Pulse)
Tonya Hurley – Passionaries (Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
Micol Ostow – Amity (Egmont)
Peter Adam Salomon – All Those Broken Angels (Flux)
Sam Swanson and Araminta Star Matthews – Horror High School: Return of the Loving Dead (Curiosity Quills Press)
Johnny Worthen – Eleanor: Book 1 (The Unseen) (Jolly Fish Press)

Superior Achievement in a Graphic Novel
Charles Burns – Sugar Skull
Emily Carroll – Through the Woods
Victor Gischler – Kiss Me Satan
Joe Hill – Locke and Key, Vol. 6
Joe R. Lansdale and Daniele Serra – I Tell You It’s Love (Short, Scary Tales Publications)
Jonathan Maberry – Bad Blood (Dark Horse Books)
Paul Tobin – The Witcher

Superior Achievement in Long Fiction
Michael Bailey – Dandelion Clocks (Inkblots and Blood Spots) (Villipede Publications)
Taylor Grant – The Infected (Cemetery Dance #71) (Cemetery Dance)
Eric J. Guignard – Dreams of a Little Suicide (Hell Comes To Hollywood II: Twenty-Two More Tales Of Tinseltown Terror (Volume 2)) (Big Time Books)
Kate Jonez – Ceremony of Flies (DarkFuse)
Joe R. Lansdale – Fishing for Dinosaurs (Limbus, Inc., Book II) (JournalStone)
Jonathan Maberry – Three Guys Walk Into a Bar (Limbus, Inc., Book II) (JournalStone)
Joe McKinney – Lost and Found (Limbus, Inc., Book II) (JournalStone)
Gene O’Neill – Ridin the Dawg (Mia Moja) (Thunderstorm Books)
John F.D. Taff – The Long Long Breakdown (The End in all Beginnings) (Grey Matter Press)
Gregor Xane – The Riggle Twins (Bad Apples) (Corpus Press)

Superior Achievement in Short Fiction
Dale Bailey – Sleep Paralysis (Nightmare Magazine, April 2014) (Nightmare)
Hal Bodner – Hot Tub (Hell Comes to Hollywood II) (Big Time Books)
Patrick Freivald – Trigger Warning (Demonic Visions Book 4) (Chris Robertson)
* Sydney Leigh – Baby’s Breath (Bugs: Tales That Slither, Creep, and Crawl) (Great Old Ones Publishing)
Usman T. Malik – The Vaporization Enthalpy of a Peculiar Pakistani Family (Qualia Nous) (Written Backwards)
Alessandro Manzetti – Nature’s Oddities (The Shaman: And Other Shadows) (self-published)
Rena Mason – Ruminations (Qualia Nous) (Written Backwards)
John Palisano – Splinterette (Widowmakers: A Benefit Anthology of Dark Fiction)
Sayuri Ueda – The Street of Fruiting Bodies (Phantasm Japan) (Haikasoru, an imprint of VIZ Media, LLC)
Genevieve Valentine – A Dweller in Amenty (Nightmare Magazine, March 2014) (Nightmare)
Damien Angelica Walters – The Floating Girls: A Documentary (Jamais Vu, Issue Three) (Post Mortem Press)

Superior Achievement in a Fiction Collection
Michael Bailey – Inkblots and Blood Spots (Villipede Publications)
Stephen Graham Jones – After the People Lights Have Gone Off (Dark House Press)
John R. Little – Little by Little (Bad Moon Books)
Helen Marshall – Gifts for the One Who Comes After (ChiZine Publications)
David Sakmyster – Escape Plans (Wordfire Press)
Terrence Scott – The Madeleine Wheel: Playing with Spiders (Amazon)
Lucy Snyder – Soft Apocalypses (Raw Dog Screaming Press)
Robin Spriggs – The Untold Tales of Ozman Droom (Anomalous Books)
John F.D. Taff – The End In All Beginnings (Grey Matter Press)
Alexander Zelenyj – Songs for the Lost (Eibonvale Press)

Superior Achievement in an Anthology
John Joseph Adams and Hugh Howey – The End Is Nigh (Broad Reach Publishing)
Michael Bailey – Qualia Nous (Written Backwards)
Jason Brock – A Darke Phantastique (Cycatrix Press)
Ellen Datlow – Fearful Symmetries (ChiZine Publications)
Kate Jonez – Halloween Tales (Omnium Gatherum)
Eric Miller – Hell Comes to Hollywood II (Big Time Books)
Chuck Palahniuk, Richard Thomas, and Dennis Widmyer – Burnt Tongues (Medallion Press)
Brian M. Sammons – The Dark Rites of Cthulhu (April Moon Books)
Brett J. Talley – Limbus, Inc., Book II (JournalStone)
Terry M. West – Journals of Horror: Found Fiction (Pleasant Storm Entertainment)

Superior Achievement in a Screenplay
Scott M. Gimple – The Walking Dead: The Grove, episode 4:14 (AMC)
James Hawes – Penny Dreadful: Possession (Desert Wolf Productions/Neal Street Productions)
Jennifer Kent – The Babadook (Causeway Films)
Alex Kurtzman and Mark Goffman – Sleepy Hollow: “Bad Blood” (Sketch Films/K/O Paper Products/20th Century Fox Television)
John Logan – Penny Dreadful: Séance (Desert Wolf Productions/Neal Street Productions)
Greg Mclean and Aaron Sterns – Wolf Creek 2 (Emu Creek Pictures)
Stephen Moffat – Doctor Who: Listen (British Broadcasting Corporation)
Cameron Porsendah – Helix: Pilot (Tall Ship Productions/Kaji Productions/Muse Entertainment/Lynda Obst Productions/in association with Sony Pictures Television)
Jack Thomas Smith –Infliction (Fox Trail Productions)
James Wong – American Horror Story: Coven: “The Magical Delights of Stevie Nicks” (FX Network)

Superior Achievement in Non-Fiction
Massimo Berruti, S.T. Joshi, and Sam Gafford – William Hope Hodgson: Voices from the Borderland (Hippocampus Press)
Jason V. Brock – Disorders of Magnitude (Rowman & Littlefield)
Hayley Campbell – The Art of Neil Gaiman (HarperCollins Publishers)
S.T. Joshi – Lovecraft and A World in Transition (Hippocampus Press)
Leslie S. Klinger – The New Annotated H.P. Lovecraft (Liveright Publishing Corp., a division of W.W. Norton & Co.)
Joe Mynhardt and Emma Audsley – Horror 101: The Way Forward (Crystal Lake Publishing)
Robert Damon Schneck – Mrs. Wakeman vs. the Antichrist (Tarcher/Penguin)
Lucy Snyder – Shooting Yourself in the Head For Fun and Profit: A Writer’s Survival Guide (Post Mortem Press)
Tom Weaver, David Schecter, and Steve Kronenberg – The Creature Chronicles: Exploring the Black Lagoon Trilogy (McFarland & Company, Inc., Publishers)

Superior Achievement in a Poetry Collection
Robert Payne Cabeen – Fearworms: Selected Poems (Fanboy Comics)
G.O. Clark – Gravedigger’s Dance (Dark Renaissance Books)
David E. Cowen – The Madness of Empty Spaces (Weasel Press)
Corrinne De Winter and Alessandro Manzetti – Venus Intervention (Kipple Officina Libraria)
Wade German – Dreams from the Black Nebula (Hippocampus Press)
Tom Piccirilli – Forgiving Judas (Crossroad Press)
Michelle Scalise – The Manufacturer of Sorrow (Eldritch Press)
Marge Simon and Mary Turzillo – Sweet Poison (Dark Renaissance Books)
Tiffany Tang – Creepy Little Death Poems (Dreality Press)
Stephanie Wytovich – Mourning Jewelry (Raw Dog Screaming Press)

Good luck everyone!

WRITTEN BACKWARDS AWARDS® / DRAWA (2014)

Written Backwards Awards

Written Backwards Awards

Also known as the DRAWA, the Written Backwards Awards® celebrates the recognition of a literary marvel. The prestigious award is not determined by jury, not by recommendation counts of any kind, and not by a jury/rec superpac, but is decided upon by Written Backwards and its staff… meaning one person, Michael Bailey. He determines whether a literary work is DRAWA eligible by reading or looking at various readable or lookable things throughout the year, whether it be a short story, novelette, novella, novel, screenplay (which we all know is just watching a movie), soundtrack, grocery list, magazine, website article, literary journal, pretty picture/artwork, or whatever else he sees fit, mentally scores this work on a scale of suck to badass, and from that point creates a preliminary ballot in his head from which to randomly choose ballotees. From this “preliminary” ballot, he then carefully and skillfully and adverbly removes “preliminary” altogether, thus creating what is known as the Written Backwards Awards® final ballot, which may or may not have to include works from the previous year. DRAWA winners are determined from this mental list, if remembered, depending on eligibility.

There is no hindrance on publication date, as long as the publication date does not surpass the year in which an award is planned for issue. For example, if Stephen Hill publishes an award-winning masterpiece in December 2014, he is not eligible for a 2013 award because, well, his work is from the future, and future literary works are prohibited, as mentioned somewhere in the figurative small-print. Awards can go to the dead, although they cannot be accepted in person.

Please note that all writers whose work appeared or will soon appear in Written Backwards anthologies are not only eligible for a DRAWA, but automatic recipients of the Written Backwards Awards®. This currently includes the following anthologies: Pellucid Lunacy (2010), Chiral Mad (2012), Chiral Mad 2 (2013), the upcoming Pellucid Lunacy 2 (TBD), and the upcoming Qualia Nous (TBD). If your work appeared or will soon appear in the aforementioned anthologies, you are hereby or soonby an alumni recipient of the Written Backwards Awards® for the given year of publication. See anthology table of contents page for a full list of alumni recipients.

So, without further ado, in this first annual event, Written Backwards is proud to introduce the first winners of the Written Backwards Awards®, also known as the DRAWA (name not yet a registered trademark). The following works were admired greatly, and can forever be considered literary marvels from this point onward.

Gary A. Braunbeck – Rose of Sharon (fiction collection)

David Morrell – Murder as a Fine Art (historical novel)

Christian A. LarsenLosing Touch (first novel)

Neil GaimanThe Ocean at the End of the Lane (fantasy novel)

John Boden – Dominoes (kids book, sort of…)

Joe HillNOS4A2 (horror novel)

Stephen KingDr. Sleep (horror novel)

Wes Anderson – The Grand Budapest Hotel (screenplay)

David Petersen – Mouse Guard, all volumes (graphic novel)

Special Written Backwards Awards® may be given out each year to those making a noticeable difference in the writing community. This year, Written Backwards proudly presents the DRAWA Presence, Inspiration, and Voice. (See how that works? AWARD is spelled backwards, with the subject of the award after… so, this would actually be a Presence Award, Inspiration Award, and a Voice Award… clever, right?)

Anyway, the DRAWA Presence recognizes an individual completely dedicated to the craft, with strong viral marketing / social networking skills, and a blog people actually follow; this person must regularly crank out quality work and have a recognizable ‘presence’ in their field of work; this is the top dog, the lifetime achiever, the… well, you get the idea. The DRAWA Inspiration recognizes an individual somewhat new to the craft, someone with emerging talent, a strong, literary powerhouse waiting to erupt; this is the person to watch closely. Lastly, the DRAWA Voice recognizes an individual  with a fresh, unique literary voice, someone who quite clearly knows all the rules, and is very good at breaking them; this person has their own genre of awesomeness, in other words. Who are these people?

DRAWA Presence – Brian Keene

DRAWA Inspiration – Usman T. Malik

DRAWA Voice – Erik T. Johnson