So, yesterday, the preliminary ballot for the Bram Stoker Awards was released, first to members via e-mail, who then disseminated it to social media and various genre websites. I began to hear about it via a break at work, when my Facebook account kept blowing up, being repeated tagged in things, but never seeing why. I finally messaged a friend about the list and got the info.
Bones Are Made to be Broken the titular novella of my collection–and one of the two original pieces in the book–had been selected in the Long Fiction category.
You often hear the cliche “his mind was blown” but this was my first time ever encountering it. I told a colleague that the rest of my day was shot because I was trying to, in a strange way, figure out what the fuck had happened. And the tags and congrats just kept on fucking coming.
I’m a natural pessimist, so while the reviews have been ridiculously positive, the blurbs were given freely (and were spectacular), and, at the beginning of it, Michael Bailey believed the stories were good–I kept all of that at arm’s length. A part of me legit believed (and believes) that I somehow managed to hornswaggle these people. This isn’t humble-brag. I struggle with not feeling like a twat when saying thank you for a gift, let alone people going to some length to sing the praises of a bunch of goddamned stories I wrote.
And people say I’m an egotist. Scratch an egotist and find a neurotically batshit person.
It’s also not humble-brag when I say that I didn’t expect to make any kind of list, prelim or otherwise. A few people made sure to point out to me that they were recommending this story or that story or the collection to the recommended reading list and that was nice and I put it out of my head. I tend to click over to Goodreads or the Amazon listing for Bones for reading reviews a bit obsessively, but when it comes to people saying, “Read this!” on some kind of list, I tend to act dismissively. Thanks! I say, or That’s Awesome! and I feel like a twat, like I don’t mean it (though I do) and the other person thinks the same.
So! What happens now? Well, a mailer will be going out to all Horror Writers Association members which will include links or copies of the balloted works. Between now and at some point in February, this prelim ballot will be narrowed down to a Final Ballot of five works and it is those works that will be considered “Bram Stoker Award nominees”. From there, it’s on to the Awards Ceremony at Stokercon.
Do I think I’ll make the ballot? Oh, who the hell knows and I’m not even going to bother trying. In all the categories, I’m digging how eccentric the choices are (how many times does Stephen King need to be nominated, y’know? He’s got more awards than the Trump White House has assholes). Moreover, I’m just not bothered. It’ll be fine, either way.
Here’s the secret to awards, gang–told by someone who has never won one, so you know I’m an expert. I’m not, but Neil Gaiman is. He said, as part of a keynote speech at an awards ceremony, that awards are only about professionals in a certain field coming together and selecting a handful of pieces that these professionals believe are representative of their field. That’s it. You won’t suddenly become rich and famous, or get laid with any increasing regularity, or look suddenly hotter in the mirror. Some people get resentful if they don’t “win” or they aren’t even “nominated” and I just don’t get why. The handful of pieces selected as being representative doesn’t mean that nothing else can’t be representative. That’s the rub, friends. Awards are nice, awards may make some people go “Hmm, cool”, but that’s all they are and, really, all they should be. Anyone who’s looking for more is probably doing the art for the wrong reasons.
I didn’t, and I suspect no one else on the list, write to get awards. We wrote our pieces, our potentially representative pieces, because we wanted to. They were stories we wanted to tell, with no other thought beyond that. The people who do it for the recognition, or to try to get rich, or get laid–they never last, nor should they. Fuck those people. They clog the channels.
So, it goes like this–if Bones Are Made to be Broken ends up being a nominee, that’s fucking righteous. If it doesn’t–well, the story and the book are still out there, aren’t they? And that’s pretty goddamned awesome, too. People are reading it. People are liking it. People, hopefully, are talking about it with others, who may pick it up themselves. Some of them tell me about this.
And I’m grateful. Honestly, even if I feel like a twat.
(Side note – as an outsider who’s not in the HWA, I was very pleased at the prelim ballot. Not everything I loved made it onto the list [seriously, go buy Paper Tigers RIGHT FUCKING NOW GODDAMMIT THIS IS MY FAVORITE NOVEL OF 2016], but it was interesting enough that I can just nod my head and go, “That’ll do, pig.”)
You can pick up Bones Are Made to be Broken here.
And, if you like what you read, write a quick review on Goodreads and Amazon. I don’t just mean Bones–although, yes, yes, do review that–but all the books you read. Spread the word. Talk to people about what turns your dials.