I've just finished "The Rising" by Brian Keene. It's a well written book that pulls the reader along, milking the theme of a plague of zombies for all its worth. And tomorrow, I'll probably head over to the book store and get the sequel (trust me, the way this ends, picking up the sequel is a must...and if I had known the ending ahead of time, I would have had the sequel waiting). I recommend this book. Keene's novel deserves to be read by fans of horror. But did it deserve to win the Bram Stoker First Novel award in 2003?
For those who don't know, The Bram Stoker Award (named for the author of "Dracula") is the annual award for fiction given each year by the Horror Writers of America. It's something to be coveted, or at least I used to think so. That's before I started reading the list of other novels that have won the award over the last several years. Here's a sample of winners in the Novel category and First Novel category over the last few years:
2006---Novel: Lisey's Story by Stephen King (Scribner)/First Novel: Ghost Road Blues by Jonathan Maberry (Pinnacle)
2005--Novel: (tie) Creepers by David Morrell and Dread in the Beast by Charlee Jacob/First Novel: Scarecrow Gods by Weston Ochse
2004--Novel: In the Night Room by Peter Straub/First Novel: (tie) Covenant by John Everson and Stained by Lee Thomas
2003--Novel: lost boy lost girl by Peter Straub/First Novel: The Rising by Brian Keene
(if you want a more complete list, follow this link...)
Now while I've read several of these novels on the full list and consider many well-written and entertaining, some have in no way been deserving of a Bram Stoker Award. I won't mention which, but the I'll raise the question as to whether or not some of these nominations are the result of self-serving politics.
And I'm not just picking on the Stoker Awards. I've been unable to watch an Academy Awards presentation for years without rolling my eyes and shaking my head. Can the same be said for The Edgar Allen Poe Awards, given by Mystery Writers of America; or The Hugo Award for science fiction, given by the World Science Fiction Society, or the Golden Heart Award by the Romance Writers of America.
I'll bet that most of these awards are the result of haggling and politicking between agents, editors, and publishers. That there is an enormous amount of favor promising and favor collecting going on during the process.
So, does that make these awards less important to their winners? Does it mean anything to the person who picks up a copy of a novel and sees that the author is the former recipient of a Golden Heart?
I'll tell you one advantage to the reader. More than likely, a book nominated for one of these awards is probably not going to be a total waste of time. Looking over the list of nominees for Stokers is how I found "The Rising". Do I consider it worthy of the award? No. But I'd still recommend it for purchase and for a good scare or two. So Mr. Keene, wherever you are, please don't take offense. I don't know if I'm making a comment about your novel so much as I'm commenting about my own naiveté and the world of marketing.
And hey..I still haven't gotten an award for blogging, so there's still integrity out there somewhere.