I spent the weekend at Readercon, where the Shirley Jackson Awards (for horror and dark fantasy) are presented. I was in the bar Sunday -- not drinking! I swear! I was memorializing Lucius! -- when my pal Greer Gilman emerged from the awards ceremony with a freshly minted lucite trophy for Best Novella for her quite wonderful Small Beer chapbook Cry Murder! In a Small Voice.
(For those of you who haven't read it, Cry Murder! In a Small Voice is a murder mystery with Ben Jonson in the role of detective, told in his distinctive prose style. Oxfordians are urged not to rush out with the rest of us to buy it, as it will only make them grumpy.
Greer was so elated that she let me help her hold the award for the above photo by illustrious bookman and litterateur Henry Wessells. That's me in an appropriately obscured position, basking in her reflected glory.
And why wasn't I there to applaud Greer's accomplishment? Well... I might have been, except that just before the ceremony, I was talking with Paul Park about the engraved stones that are given to all the nominees and he said, "You know, I picture the winner walking up to accept the award and all the nominees, who have just lost, looking down at their hands and realizing that they're holding something just the right size for throwing..."
Come to think, I don't actually know that any of the other winners survived the ceremony.
The other winners (living or dead, as the case may be) were:
American Elsewhere, by Robert Jackson Bennett (Orbit) – Best Novel
Burning Girls, Veronica Schanoes (Tor.com) – Best Novella
“57 Reasons for the Slate Quarry Suicides”, Sam J. Miller (Nightmare December 2013) – Best Short Fiction
Before and Afterlives, Christopher Barzak (Lethe Press) & North American Lake Monsters, Nathan Ballingrud (Small Beer) – tied for Best Collection
My sincere congratulations to them all.
Greer has a second novelette chapbook, also starring Ben Jonson, which is apparently not officially out until September, titled Exit, Pursued by a Bear. Somehow, I managed to buy a copy, since autographed by the award-winning author herself. You can read about it here.
Or you can read about the first chapbook (both are strikingly handsome) here.
Or you can just go to Small Beer Press and wander about happily here. I have faith in your ability to resist buying lots and lots of books that would make you far happier than the money ever could.
And, because I promised . . .
Friday, I pointed out three of the lessons that new and gonnabe writers can learn from the opening paragraph of Neil Gaiman's contributions to the Rogues anthology, and promised on Monday (today) to point out a fourth and even more important one.
So here it is:
Go back to the opening paragraph again. Notice the utter clarity of it. There is no ambiguity about what's going on. This fact is not unrelated to Neil's popularity.
For extra credit, spend the rest of your life trying to achieve perfect clarity in your own prose.
Above: Yours Truly and Greer Gilman. Photo by Henry Wessells.