A toast to all of the StokerCon 2021 Organizers and Bram Stoker Award Winners and Finalists!

A bottle of Bocelli Prosecco and the base of a wine glass

Before COVID, I’d planned on going to Denver in April and/or May. A year ago, I hoped to make StokerCon 2021 my first StokerCon. I’m not in Denver. Neither was StokerCon. However, this first Virtual StokerCon was still my first, and it was fabulous. I’m still distilling all of the wonderful panels and presentations, so no wrap-up here, but a huge shoutout and thank you to Brian Matthews, James Chambers, and all of the others involved in putting on this massive event, including the panelists and presenters. Thank you for all of your work, and I hope your families recognize you as you return to “real life.”

Author readings for the con were pre-recorded, and now that it’s over, I can share my reading of “In Loco Parentis,” from my collection The Cuckoo Girls. It’s short!

The Cuckoo Girls didn’t win the Bram Stoker Award for Fiction Collection, but I’m still so thrilled with the nomination, it might as well have. In truth, I was so surprised at making the preliminary ballot and so shocked at making the final ballot that winning might have done me in—so it’s a good thing the award went to the talented Lee Murray for her amazing collection Grotesque: Monster Stories. Check it out.

No matter how far away you live, there’s a good chance you heard my screams when EV Knight’s win for First Novel was announced. Not only is her debut novel, The Fourth Whore wonderful, I’ve had the privilege of reading her next, Children of Demeter, coming in August from Raw Dog Screaming Press. You want this one, folks.

The complete list of winners and finalists is below. Get ready for some book shopping!

Next year, StokerCon will be in Denver, and once again, I’m hoping to be there.

The 2020 Bram Stoker Awards®

Superior Achievement in a Novel

  • WINNER: Jones, Stephen Graham – The Only Good Indians (Gallery/Saga Press)
  • Katsu, Alma – The Deep (G.P. Putnam’s Sons)
  • Keisling, Todd – Devil’s Creek (Silver Shamrock Publishing)
  • Malerman, Josh – Malorie (Del Rey)
  • Moreno-Garcia, Silvia – Mexican Gothic (Del Rey; Jo Fletcher Books)

Superior Achievement in a First Novel

  • WINNER: Knight, EV – The Fourth Whore (Raw Dog Screaming Press)
  • Hall, Polly – The Taxidermist’s Lover (CamCat Publishing, LLC)
  • Harrison, Rachel – The Return (Berkley)
  • Jeffery, Ross – Tome (The Writing Collective)
  • Reed Petty, Kate – True Story (Viking; riverrun)

Superior Achievement in a Graphic Novel

  • WINNER: Holder, Nancy (author), Di Francia, Chiara (artist), and Woo, Amelia (artist) – Mary Shelley Presents (Kymera Press)
  • Archer, Steven (author/artist) – The Masque of the Red Death (Raw Dog Screaming Press)
  • Brody, Jennifer (author) and Rivera, Jules (artist) – Spectre Deep 6 (Turner)
  • Douek, Rich (author) and Cormack, Alex (artist) – Road of Bones (IDW Publishing)
  • Manzetti, Alessandro (author) and Cardoselli, Stefano (artist/author) – Her Life Matters: (Or Brooklyn Frankenstein) (Independent Legions Publishing)
  • Niles, Steve (author), Simeone, Salvatore (author), and Kudranski, Szymon (artist) – Lonesome Days, Savage Nights (TKO Studios)

Superior Achievement in a Young Adult Novel

  • WINNER: Cesare, Adam – Clown in a Cornfield (HarperTeen)
  • Kraus, Daniel – Bent Heavens (Henry Holt and Company/Macmillan)
  • Snyman, Monique – The Bone Carver (Vesuvian Books)
  • Thomas, Aiden – Cemetery Boys (Swoon Reads/Macmillan)
  • Waters, Erica – Ghost Wood Song (HarperTeen)

Superior Achievement in Long Fiction

  • WINNER: Jones, Stephen Graham – Night of the Mannequins (Tor.com)
  • Iglesias, Gabino – Beyond the Reef (Lullabies for Suffering: Tales of Addiction Horror) (Wicked Run Press)
  • Kiste, Gwendolyn – The Invention of Ghosts (Nightscape Press)
  • Landry, Jess – I Will Find You, Even in the Dark (Dim Shores Presents Volume 1) (Dim Shores)
  • Pinsker, Sarah – Two Truths and a Lie (Tor.com)

Superior Achievement in Short Fiction

  • WINNER: Malerman, Josh – “One Last Transformation” (Miscreations: Gods, Monstrosities & Other Horrors) (Written Backwards)
  • Arcuri, Meghan – “Am I Missing the Sunlight?” (Borderlands 7) (Borderlands Press)
  • Fawver, Kurt – “Introduction to the Horror Story, Day 1” (Nightmare Magazine Nov. 2020 (Issue 98))
  • O’Quinn, Cindy – “The Thing I Found Along a Dirt Patch Road” (Shotgun Honey Presents Volume 4: Recoil) (Down and Out Books)
  • Ward, Kyla Lee – “Should Fire Remember the Fuel?” (Oz is Burning) (B Cubed Press)

Superior Achievement in a Fiction Collection

  • WINNER: Murray, Lee – Grotesque: Monster Stories (Things in the Well)
  • Koja, Kathe – Velocities: Stories (Meerkat Press)
  • Langan, John – Children of the Fang and Other Genealogies (Word Horde)
  • Lillie, Patricia – The Cuckoo Girls (Trepidatio Publishing)
  • Taborska, Anna – Bloody Britain (Shadow Publishing)

Superior Achievement in a Screenplay

  • WINNER: Whannell, Leigh – The Invisible Man (Universal Pictures, Blumhouse Productions, Goalpost Pictures, Nervous Tick Productions)
  • Amaris, Scarlett and Stanley, Richard – Color Out of Space (SpectreVision)
  • Green, Misha – Lovecraft Country, Season 1, Episode 1: “Sundown” (Affeme, Monkeypaw Productions, Bad Robot Productions, Warner Bros. Television Studios)
  • Green, Misha and Ofordire, Ihuoma – Lovecraft Country, Season 1, Episode 8: “Jig-a-Bobo” (Affeme, Monkeypaw Productions, Bad Robot Productions, Warner Bros. Television Studios)
  • LaManna, Angela – The Haunting of Bly Manor, Season 1, Episode 5: “The Altar of the Dead” (Intrepid Pictures, Amblin Television, Paramount Television Studios)

Superior Achievement in a Poetry Collection

  • WINNER: Sng, Christina – A Collection of Dreamscapes (Raw Dog Screaming Press)
  • Manzetti, Alessandro – Whitechapel Rhapsody: Dark Poems (Independent Legions Publishing)
  • McHugh, Jessica – A Complex Accident of Life (Apokrupha)
  • Pelayo, Cynthia – Into the Forest and All the Way Through (Burial Day Books)
  • Tantlinger, Sara – Cradleland of Parasites (Rooster Republic Press)

Superior Achievement in an Anthology

  • WINNER: Murray, Lee and Flynn, Geneve – Black Cranes: Tales of Unquiet Women (Omnium Gatherum Media)
  • Bailey, Michael and Murano, Doug – Miscreations: Gods, Monstrosities & Other Horrors (Written Backwards)
  • Kolesnik, Samantha – Worst Laid Plans: An Anthology of Vacation Horror (Grindhouse Press)
  • Tantlinger, Sara – Not All Monsters: A Strangehouse Anthology by Women of Horror (Rooster Republic Press)
  • Yardley, Mercedes M. – Arterial Bloom (Crystal Lake Publishing)

Superior Achievement in Non-Fiction

  • WINNER: Waggoner, Tim – Writing in the Dark (Guide Dog Books/Raw Dog Screaming Press)
  • Florence, Kelly and Hafdahl, Meg – The Science of Women in Horror: The Special Effects, Stunts, and True Stories Behind Your Favorite Fright Films (Skyhorse)
  • Heller-Nicholas, Alexandra – 1000 Women in Horror (BearManor Media)
  • Keene, Brian – End of the Road (Cemetery Dance Publications)
  • Peirse, Alison – Women Make Horror: Filmmaking, Feminism, Genre (Rutgers University Press)
  • Wetmore, Jr. Kevin J. – The Streaming of Hill House: Essays on the Haunting Netflix Adaption (McFarland)

Superior Achievement in Short Non-Fiction

  • WINNER: Waggoner, Tim – “Speaking of Horror” (The Writer)
  • Jackson Joseph, Rhonda – “The Beloved Haunting of Hill House: An Examination of Monstrous Motherhood” (The Streaming of Hill House: Essays on the Haunting Netflix Adaptation) (McFarland)
  • Pelayo, Cynthia – “I Need to Believe” (Southwest Review Volume 105.3)
  • Robinson, Kelly – “Lost, Found, and Finally Unbound: The Strange History of the 1910 Edison Frankenstein” (Rue Morgue Magazine, June 2020)
  • Sng, Christina – “Final Girl: A Life in Horror” (Interstellar Flight Magazine, October 2020)

Now It’s a Nomination! THE CUCKOO GIRLS makes the Bram Stoker Awards Final Ballot

It’s the third day since the final ballot for the 2020 Bram Stoker Awards was announced, and I’m still excited, shocked, thrilled, and a whole bunch of other adjectives—all of them good.

A few weeks ago, I wrote about The Cuckoo Girls making the Stoker preliminary ballot. There were a lot of amazing collections published last year. I know this because, like many people, the trash fire that was 2020 affected my attention span. The majority of my reading was shorter works, which meant a lot of collections and anthologies. Since I love short work, this wasn’t a hardship, but I knew what was out there* and never expected to see my collection on the long list. I was—and still am—thrilled that enough members of the Horror Writers Association liked it enough to recommend it. But I honestly thought it would end there, and I was satisfied.

It didn’t. The Cuckoo Girls is officially a Bram Stoker Award Finalist, and I am officially a Bram Stoker Award-Nominated writer.  On the personal level, that makes me feel good, and I’m enjoying it while it lasts. Don’t ever laugh at the It’s an honor just to be nominated cliché, because it is. (And don’t listen to those who tell you that you shouldn’t need outside validation of your work. It’s not the only thing in the world, but when it comes, it’s grand.)

The Cuckoo Girls is nominated in the category of “Superior Achievement in a Fiction Collection” along with Kathe Koja’s Velocities: Stories, John Langan’s Children of the Fang and Other Genealogies, Lee Murray’s Grotesque: Monster Stories, and Anna Taborska’s Bloody Britain. Koja, Langan, Murray, and Taborska have either been nominated or won Stokers before, making me the only Stoker-virgin in the category. My little collection has put me in some wonderful company. Thank you to the voting members of HWA for putting me there, to Scarlett Algee and Trepidatio Publishing and Journalstone for sending The Cuckoo Girls out into the world, and to Don Noble for the beautiful cover.

Be sure to check out the complete ballot. Congratulations to all of the nominees in all categories!

I want to give a special shout out to my fellow alumni of Seton Hill University’s MFA in Writing Popular Fiction program. EV Knight (First Novel), Rhonda Jackson Joseph (Short Non-Fiction), Sara Tantlinger (Poetry Collection AND Anthology)—you all rock!

And cheers to Michelle Renee Lane (whose debut novel, Invisible Chains, was a finalist last year’s in First Novel category) for once again waking up early and texting me crazy good news so that it was the first thing I saw when I picked up my phone, before I’d even crawled out of bed—and for assuring me it was real and wasn’t going to disappear. She’s my favorite. Don’t tell the others.

* A few of my favorite single author collections from last year, in no particular order:

Okay, more than a few, and I’m sure I forgot some. Like I said, it was a good year for collections!

THE CUCKOO GIRLS makes the Bram Stoker Awards Preliminary Ballot

Cover of the short story collection The Cuckoo Girls.

Back in April of 2020—soon to be known as That Year We Don’t Talk About—my debut short story collection was published by Trepidatio Publishing, an imprint of JournalStone. Because everyone wants to achieve a bucket list item in the middle of a global pandemic, right?

On January 22nd of 2021—already known as The Year We Hope Will be Better—I slept late. When I woke up, rolled over, and grabbed my phone, the first thing I saw was a text from Michelle Renee Lane telling me The Cuckoo Girls made the Bram Stoker Award Preliminary Ballot in the Fiction Collection category. To say I was shocked is an understatement. What a way to wake up.

It’s been two weeks since I got the news, and I’m still surprised and inordinately happy every time I think about it.

This is not a nomination (for those familiar with other awards, it’s a bit like a long list), but I’m thrilled (another understatement) to see it get this far. Active and Lifetime members of the Horror Writers Association are currently voting on the Preliminary Ballot, with the results—the actual nominees—to be announced later this month.

I’m awestruck to be in such great company. As always, I’m pleased to see some of my favorites make the list and sad to see others overlooked, but congratulations to all with work on the preliminary list. I’m doing the happy dance for all of you.

You can see the complete Preliminary Ballot list at the HWA website and visit the links below to learn more about The Cuckoo Girls or buy a copy.

“Lillie makes the unreal feel all too possible…. This grim, witchy collection will grab anyone looking for a subtle fright.” —from the Publishers Weekly starred review.

Find The Cuckoo Girls at:

  • Journalstone (Publishers website. Print, Kindle, epub, and pdf available. Order the paperback and get an immediate download of a free electronic copy!)
  • Bookstore.org
  • Amazon: Print or Kindle
  • Barnes & Noble (Print or digital. eBook works with Apple Books and other ebook readers.)

How about that great cover? Every time I look at it, I fall in love with it all over again. It’s by the wonderfully talented Don Noble at Rooster Republic Press, where they also publish amazing books.