Last weekend marked the 2010 Bram Stoker Awards ceremony. I only started paying attention to literary awards a few years ago. Since then, I've had pretty good luck using the lists of nominees as recommended reading. Heck, it was how I discovered Lisa Mannetti's The Gentling Box, the 2008 winner for Superior Acheivement in a First Novel, which I consider an amazing piece of writing.
So what about you? Do these kinds of awards encourage you to seek out winning books, or do you dismiss the whole notion as arbitrary, rigged, or plain uninteresting? Me, I look at them as good reference material when searching out new authors and prospective book purchases.
Let's have a gander at this year's winners:
Rot and Run by Jonathan Maberry
Dead Love by Linda Watanabe McFerrin
Apocalypse of the Dead by Joe McKinney
Dweller by Jeff Strand
A Dark Matter by Peter Straub (WINNER)
Straub's novel is sitting on my shelf waiting to be read. Thoroughly entertained by Ghost Story and Shadowland, I figured it was about time I took a crack at one of his recent works. Funny though, as I've read some contentious blogger comments about how the novel is over-rated and Straub only won because of name recognition. Perhaps, or perhaps it was the best of the bunch. Maybe this year I should read all five and judge for myself.
Superior Achievement in a First Novel
Black and Orange by Benjamin Kane Ethridge (WINNER)
A Books of Tongues by Gemma Files
Castle of Los Angeles by Lisa Morton (WINNER)
Spellbent by Lucy Snyder
A tie, wouldn't you know? And here's the funniest bit for me: Of the four nominated books, those are the two I don't own. Go figure. Well, I have Ethridge's Black and Orange on my wish list, so I guess I'll just have to add Lisa Morton's novel as well.
Invisible Fences by Norman Prentiss (WINNER)
The Painted Darkness by Brian James Freeman
Dissolution by Lisa Mannetti
Monsters Among Us by Kirstyn McDermott
The Samhanach by Lisa Morton
Of the novellas listed here, I've only read The Painted Darkness and Dissolution. I was rooting for Mannetti's Dissolution, but it was not to be. Oh well. I get the feeling the other three novellas, winner included, are stories to watch out for.
Some of the other winners of the night include: Haunted Legends by Ellen Datlow and Nick Mamatas for Superior Achievement in an Anthology; Full Dark, No Stars by Stephen King for Superior Achievement in a Collection; and "The Falling Man" by Joe R. Lansdale for Superior Achievement in Short Fiction.
I'm actually reading Ellen Datlow's anthology, Supernatural Noir, right now and wouldn't be surprised to see that wind up on next year's short list.
I periodically hear people bemon the state of the horror genre, but I gotta say that 2010 turned out to be a pretty great year for finding some entertaining and rivoting stuff, and 2011 is shaping up to be just as good.
What I find interesting is how the self-publishing craze is offering quite a few gems as well. And you simply will not see any self-published work getting a nomination.
While I keep an eye on the short lists for several awards, I am very much behind in reading those books--especially outside the horror genre.
Anyway, congratulations to all of the Stoker Award winners, and kudos to all the authors fortunate enough to be shortlisted. Keep up the good works.