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:
- Terrible Things, David Surface
- As Summer’s Mask Slips and Other Disruptions, Gordon B. White
- Dark Blood Comes From The Feet, Emma J. Gibbons
- Thin Places, Kay Chronister
- Bleedthrough and Other Small Horrors, Scarlet Algee
- The Immeasurable Corpse of Nature, Christopher Slatsky
- A Season of Loathsome Miracles, Max D. Stanton
- Halloween Season, Lucy Snyder
- The Skeleton Melodies, Clint Smith
Okay, more than a few, and I’m sure I forgot some. Like I said, it was a good year for collections!