Shirley Jackson Award Nomination

I have – or rather, my novella The Sea Dreams It Is The Sky has been – nominated for a Shirley Jackson Award. Here’s the line-up and let me tell you, it’s stiff competition.

NOVELLA

  • Judderman, DA Northwood (Gary Budden) (Dead Ink Books/Cinder House Publishing)
  • The Atrocities, Jeremy C. Shipp (Tor.com)
  • The Only Harmless Great Thing, Brooke Bolander (Tor.com)
  • The Sea Dreams It Is the Sky, John Hornor Jacobs (HarperCollins Publishers)
  • The Taiga Syndrome, Cristina Rivera Garza (Dorothy, a Publishing Project)

Had I any confidence it would win, I’d make a trip to ReaderCon in hopes of accepting the award. But I don’t. Have much confidence I’ll win, that is. And not having much confidence there means I’ll save that time and money and pour it into the release for A Lush and Seething Hell.

I have, traditionally, gotten few nominations for awards and never won them (other than a single regional one and that win allows me to put “award-winning” in my bio, I guess along with the suitcases full of Addy and Webby and National Design Awards I’ve won over the years). Something about my work is… I don’t know… off. It’s never a pitch down the middle. It’s a mash-up of ideas that’s hard to define. It’s not straight fantasy or straight horror. It’s too edgy for young adult audiences. This fence straddling… is what draws me to projects. I think of it as my strength, rather than weakness, but it doesn’t help in winning awards. Or finding an audience.

Whatever the case, as ye olde chestnut goes, it’s an honor to simply be nominated and included among such fine writers.


It’s probably there you should have stopped reading and I should’ve stopped writing. If you continue on, dear reader, know that I have warned you.

A few thoughts on the benefits (and lack of benefits) of awards. I can’t discern any sort of benefit I’ve ever gotten for being nominated, or longlisted, for an award other than it becoming grist for the content mill that is social media. I’ve been told that certain awards, if you win them, means assured foreign rights sales to publishers in other countries. After ten books, stories in anthologies and magazines and even Playboy, this is something I haven’t achieved yet. It’s on my writing bucket list. So, I don’t know if the Shirley Jackson Awards have that kind of clout, or international gravitas, but for that single reason I’ll continue to fan the spark of hope that The Sea Dreams It Is The Sky can win. It is, probably, the best thing I’ve ever written, and it’s indicative of where and how my writing has grown since I started writing Southern Gods so many years ago – even touching on the same subject, themes, and world of Southern Gods – and I want the best for it. I am proud of my work and want it to reach the largest audience possible.

Finding an audience is something I’ve struggled with for a long time. Concurrent with that (though probably not coterminous) is a struggle with depression. Nobody told me the writing career would be like this.

Wait, actually they did. I just didn’t listen.

People tell me I’ll break-out soon. It’s a weird position to be in. I feel like I’m starting to get a hang of this storytelling thing – yet my books keep getting released to less and less attention. It’s bizarre to me that my most popular work is my first book – a novel I can barely open now to evaluate the quality of the prose.  In 2017 the failure of Infernal Machines and the Incorruptibles series sent me into a deep depression that taken me the last couple of years to pull myself out of. I know, I shouldn’t have my self-worth tied so closely to my work, neither my day job or my writing job. But somehow that’s my default setting.

In some ways, right now, this time before a book release, is the best time, because the possibilities of success are still there. The book – A Lush and Seething Hell which will be the first physical release of The Sea Dreams It Is The Sky plus a southern historical horror novel, My Heart Struck Sorrow – will be released on October the 8th, and by Thanksgiving, we’ll know if it was a success or not.

I tell myself to buck up. I have a writing career most writers would kill for. I am agented! I have books out from major publishers! I look good (relative to 2017) and I’m healthy! I have friends and people that love me!

I tell myself these things again and again. Now I can add to the litany – You are a Shirley Jackson Award nominee! 

But depression is insidious. It seeps in like floodtide filling a house and the folks on the top floor might be having a grand time safe from the storm, but the basement is already full of black water.

I need to check my basement.

Best of luck to all of the nominees! I hope your dreams come true.

johnhornor

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