I’m officially an award-winning author! Wow. The Manly Wade Wellman Award has been in existence since 2013, and it recognizes achievement in North Carolina speculative fiction. I’ve been shortlisted before, and when I saw this year’s list… well, let’s just say I put any dreams quickly to bed. You see, here in North Carolina, we have some spectacular writers. Both the long list and the short list were daunting.
I was actually shopping for beach chairs at Dick’s Sporting Goods when I got the email. I might have made a rather mad sounding giggle, and told Michael, who was testing out a Field and Stream chair after a rather horrendous 2020 beach season with a folding beach chair that… wouldn’t fold. His rage may have opened up a rift in the space-time continuum.
Anyway, to say I was surprised feels like an understatement. So we made a surprise trip to Winston-Salem, NC, where ConGregate was going on, so I could accept the award in person. I brought the whole family, and got to see plenty of folks I hadn’t seen in a long time, or ever (like Theresa Glover and fellow nominees Teresa Frohock and Gail Martin!).
I got to thank two very important people in my speech, both Sam Montgomery-Blinn and John Hartness, and I meant every word. Sam was one of the first people to listen to my Aldersgate podcast back in 2009, and was shocked that I wasn’t traditionally published back then, and has always been encouraging, kind, and welcoming. He helped build the NC speculative spec scene, and helped introduce me to people I never would have known existed. Not to mention those heady Bull Spec years!
Then in 2016, I bonded with John Hartness over wings at Illogicon. And it was pretty clear we’re just brother and sister separated at birth. He came to me with an offer to write some novellas, and I was honestly not sure at the time. I had been in a very rough spot writing-wise for a long time. I wasn’t sure I could do it, wasn’t sure I could love the process anymore. But he, and Falstaff (and particularly brilliant editor Melissa McArthur) helped me find my way back. I don’t mean to get mushy, but you sometimes stumble across people who help you in ways you just can’t pay back.
And of course, Eric Bosarge and Joe McDermott at Vernacular. I was their first book out of the gate. They saw something in Queen of None, though, this book that I had labored on for nearly a decade. Eric’s editorial and Joe’s encouragement have been incredible through this whole process. I’m so grateful for these people in my life.
Then there are the readers. I’ve been so overwhelmed by how many people have connected with Anna’s story. I admit, I cackle every time I hear someone stays up all night to find out what happens (like, #sorrynotsorry). This little book that could keeps going, and every single reader means so much. I mean, this review just came in today!
Let me tell you, I can’t wait to share the next chapter in the story. Hwyfar and Gawain are ready.