I’ve got to admit, reading the prelim ballot for the Stokers® got me all… er… well, stoked for this year’s WHC in New Orleans, but this Final Ballot is leaving me a little bit “meh”, if you catch my drift. It looks a lot like the 2011 ballot in many ways, but is missing a few of the kick-ass pieces I thought would be sure-fire contenders this time around.
Noticeably absent are folks like Lamberson (Tortured Spirits or Carnage Road), Malfi (The Narrows, After the Fade, or The Mourning House), and even the ever present Stephen King (Dark Tower: The Wind Through The Key Hole). Hell, at this point I’m thinking the 2013 ballot is going to be absolutely frenetic and insane, what with Barker, King, Gaiman, and a whole slew of other heavyweights gearing up to kick the shit out of the genre in the next 12 months.
Alas, we must go upwards and onwards, my dear furry friends. So make with the clickity-click on the little thingy-ma-bobber at the end of this sentence to take a peek at my opinions on each category. Because… seriously? Do you really have anything better to do?
SUPERIOR ACHIEVEMENT IN A NOVEL
Ethridge, Benjamin Kane – Bottled Abyss (Redrum Horror)
Everson, John – NightWhere (Samhain Publishing)
Kiernan, Caitlin R. – The Drowning Girl (Roc)
Little, Bentley – The Haunted (Signet)
McKinney, Joe – Inheritance (Evil Jester Press)
My money is on Little or McKinney to win this category, what with their takes on the art of the scary story in the style of a police procedural (McKinney) and a good old “don’t-go-in-the-basement… wait… the-basement-is-coming-to-you” (Little) being a more accessible to the broadest horror community.
I’d love to see Everson take home the famed Haunted House Paperweight for his contribution to the ever expanding erotic horror sub-genre, though. Everson’s take on the relationship taboos between a curious husband and his naughty wife in Nightwhere stoked more flames in the nether-regions than any mainstream erotica before, and pushed more boundaries than I’ve seen a work of fiction do in quite some time. This is a trailblazer of a novel and needs to be more widely recognized.
It helps that I DIE in the first chapter. That’ll always win my vote, for sure.
SUPERIOR ACHIEVEMENT IN A FIRST NOVEL
Boccacino, Michael – Charlotte Markham and the House of Darkling (William Morrow)
Coates, Deborah – Wide Open (Tor Books)
Day, Charles – The Legend of the Pumpkin Thief (Noble YA Publishers LLC)
Dudar, Peter – A Requiem for Dead Flies (Nightscape Press)
Gropp, Richard – Bad Glass (Ballantine/Del Rey)
Soares, L.L. – Life Rage (Nightscape Press)
To be honest, I haven’t touch a single on of these stories, so I’m really not one to opine on this category. I’ve heard a great buzz about L.L. Soares, but apart from that, I haven’t the foggiest who’s going to win.
I will endeavour to pick these up and keep y’all updated, though. That’s for damned sure.
SUPERIOR ACHIEVEMENT IN A YOUNG ADULT NOVEL
Bray, Libba – The Diviners (Little Brown)
Lyga, Barry – I Hunt Killers (Little Brown)
Maberry, Jonathan – Flesh & Bone (Simon & Schuster)
McCarty, Michael – I Kissed A Ghoul (Noble Romance Publishing)
Stiefvater, Maggie – The Raven Boys (Scholastic Press)
Strand, Jeff – A Bad Day for Voodoo (Sourcebooks)
I’ve got to say I’m a little disappointed in this category. Strand and Maberry were obvious guesses for the YA crowd, but I really haven’t heard hide nor hair from the rest of the crowd.
Jonathan Maberry and Nancy Holder tied for the Stoker® last year, so I won’t find it surprising for the Flesh and Bone, the Third book in the Benny Imura series, to take the spook house home, though. Maberry is making waves in the genre, and has himself poised to take both the YA and Adult horror crowds home for a fancy night of wine and couch fort battles.
Jeff Strand, being the emcee for the evening, should prove to have the best speech of the bunch, though.
SUPERIOR ACHIEVEMENT IN A GRAPHIC NOVEL
Bunn, Cullen – The Sixth Gun Volume 3: Bound (Oni Press)
Moore, Terry – Rachel Rising Vol. 1: The Shadow of Death (Abstract Studio)
Thornton, Ravi – The Tale of Brin and Bent and Minno Marylebone (Jonathan Cape)
Wacks, Peter J., and Guy Anthony De Marco – Behind These Eyes (Villainous Press)
Wood, Rocky, and Lisa Morton – Witch Hunts: A Graphic History of the Burning Times (McFarland)
I just like saying Cullen Bunn. Is this a bad thing? The Sixth Gun is a killer series, so I won’t be shocked if it takes the cake, but Wood and Morton stand a good chance in this category as well, given the fact that they’re both solid storytellers and have been intimately involved in the horror scene for many decades.
I can’t really say more than that since I’m not very up-to-date with what’s going on in the comic world these days.
Okay, wait. I just noticed something. Read that list again. Bunn, Wacks, and Wood? This category is awesome. I DECLARE EVERYBODY A WINNER!
I’m such a juvenile.
SUPERIOR ACHIEVEMENT IN LONG FICTION
Burke, Kealan Patrick – Thirty Miles South of Dry County (Delirium Books)
Ketchum, Jack, and Lucky McKee – I’m Not Sam (Sinister Grin Press)
McKinney, Joe, and Michael McCarty – Lost Girl of the Lake (Bad Moon Books)
O’Neill, Gene – The Blue Heron (Dark Regions Press)
Prentiss, Norman – The Fleshless Man (Delirium Books)
Uh oh… here we go. I was dreading a category like this. LOOK AT THAT LINEUP! It’s like seeing Van Halen, Led Zepplin, Gwar, Bruno Mars, and Jay-Z and Justin Timberlake ALL AT THE SAME TIME! (And yes, Burke is Bruno Mars ’cause I’m sure he’s a ladies man through and through… the rest of my musical choices here are basically fucking illogical. I need to sleep more.)
So let’s see here, what do we have? Now, I’m familiar with all of these authors, and have actually read most of them, but I really can’t pick one to win above the other. They’re all phenomenal talents, and the pieces I’ve read here are definitely award worthy, but I’m going to have to give it to I’m Not Sam because it’s just a serious emotional ass-kicking that deserves the damned mansion-de-boogety.
Yes. That is what I shall call this award from now on. Fake French accent and all.
Deal with it.
SUPERIOR ACHIEVEMENT IN SHORT FICTION
Boston, Bruce – Surrounded by the Mutant Rain Forest (Daily Science Fiction)
McKinney, Joe – Bury My Heart at Marvin Gardens (Best of Dark Moon Digest, Dark Moon Books)
Ochse, Weston – Righteous (Psychos, Black Dog and Leventhall Publication)
Palisano, John – Available Light (Lovecraft eZine, March 2012)
Snyder, Lucy – Magdala Amygdala (Dark Faith: Invocations, Apex Book Company)
I love me some Bruce Boston and Joe McKinney, but Weston Ochse has a place in my heart for his amazing, style-driven short stories and the way he just tells it how it is. Palisano and Snyder are both powerful authors as well, but I cannot deny what my heart wants.
It’s unfortunate that Ochse will have both feet firmly planted on Afghani soil during the awards ceremony, though, having recently been called into action, but I damned well expect to see his happy face clutching that award very soon.
You hear me, Ochse? Come home safe or I’m coming to get you. Me and that crazy silver Elvis from downtown Toronto. And you don’t want my whiny ass out there in that sort of heat. Trust me.
SUPERIOR ACHIEVEMENT IN SCREENPLAY
Goldman, Jane – The Woman in Black (Cross Creek Pictures)
Kim, Sang Kyu – The Walking Dead, “Killer Within” (AMC TV)
Minear, Tim – American Horror Story: Asylum, “Dark Cousin” (Brad Falchuk Teley-Vision, Ryan Murphy Productions)
Ross, Gary, Suzanne Collins, and Billy Ray – The Hunger Games (Lionsgate, Color Force)
Whedon, Joss, and Drew Goddard – The Cabin in the Woods (Mutant Enemy Productions, Lionsgate)
I know I’ll be throat-punched if I don’t vote for The Cabin in the Woods. And by that, I mean in a painful way. Not the good way. Wait, is there a good way? Whatevs…
That said, I’d really like to wave a flag of victory for American Horror Story and The Walking Dead, but how in the hell could one vote against a film that *Spoiler alert!!* has every single horror fanboy monster KILLING THE SHIT OUT OF EVERYTHING in one gloriously blood-drenched scene?
You can’t. It’s impossible. Trust me, I’ve tried. It doesn’t happen.
If Whedon and Goddard don’t win this one, I don’t know what’s wrong with the horror community. This was several years in the making, has some of the most solid story writing I’ve seen in mainstream media ever, and has a goddamned killer unicorn. There’s nothing else to say. Nothing.
SUPERIOR ACHIEVEMENT IN ANTHOLOGY
Castle, Mort, and Sam Weller – Shadow Show (HarperCollins)
Guignard, Eric J. – Dark Tales of Lost Civilizations (Dark Moon Books)
Miller, Eric – Hell Comes to Hollywood (Big Time Books)
Scioneaux, Mark C., R.J. Cavender, and Robert S. Wilson – Horror for Good: A Charitable Anthology (Cutting Block Press)
Swanson, Stan – Slices of Flesh (Dark Moon Books)
I’m not even going to touch this one. I’ve long since given up on anthologies for all of the shitty ones I’ve read lately, but I’ll give a nod to Horror For Good because… well… it’s for good, right? Maybe I’ll give them all a spin in the coming months, but what’s that old saying? Once bitten, twice shy? Yeah. We’ll see.
SUPERIOR ACHIEVEMENT IN FICTION COLLECTION
Carroll, Jonathan – Woman Who Married a Cloud: Collected Stories (Subterranean Press)
Castle, Mort – New Moon on the Water (Dark Regions)
Hand, Elizabeth – Errantry: Strange Stories (Small Beer Press)
Hirshberg, Glen – The Janus Tree (Subterranean Press)
Oates, Joyce Carol – Black Dahlia and White Rose: Stories (Ecco)
Oh Jesus… another one. See, I’m not a fan of collections either. I mean, it’s one thing to read a bunch of short stories by a bunch of different people, but reading a collection of shorts by the same person? If you’re not Clive Barker or Neil Gaiman (I mention Gaiman because I’ve just read Feminine Endings – a story I believe to be one of the best damned short stories EVER), and it’s not Book of the Dead, by Skipp and Spector (an anthology and not a collection, I know), I’m not going to be all that interested.
SUPERIOR ACHIEVEMENT IN NON-FICTION
Collings, Michael – Writing Darkness (CreateSpace)
Klinger, Les – The Annotated Sandman, Volume 1 (Vertigo)
Morton, Lisa – Trick or Treat: A History of Halloween (Reaktion Books)
Paffenroth, Kim, and John W. Morehead – The Undead and Theology (Pickwick Publications)
Phillips, Kendall R. – Dark Directions: Romero, Craven, Carpenter, and the Modern Horror Film (Southern Illinois University Press)
Again, not a category I’m familiar with at the moment, but I will do my best to seek out these books and take a gander. I hazard to say that Phillips will take the award, though, as I’ve seen retrospectives based on well known horror directors tend to do well within the genre’s fan base – hardcore and casual fans alike.
SUPERIOR ACHIEVEMENT IN POETRY
Addison, Linda, and Stephen M. Wilson – Dark Duet (NECON eBooks)
Boston, Bruce, and Gary William Crawford – Notes from the Shadow City (Dark Regions Press)
Collings, Michael – A Verse to Horrors (Amazon Digital Services)
Simon, Marge – Vampires, Zombies & Wanton Souls (Elektrik Milk Bath Press)
Turzillo, Mary A. – Lovers & Killers (Dark Regions)
Okay… this is the last category, and I know I’ve been a stinker for the last three, but I’d just like to ask you all a question.
Have you read Notes from the Shadow City?
If you have… you’ll know this is a heavy contender. I love poetry. It’s probably one of the most moving, evocative forms of literary art there is, and no man or woman is invincible to the spell of a well worded piece. The above mentioned Notes… is a piece like no other. I would rank it up there with Edgar Allen Poe, Steve Vernon’s “Barren – A Chronicle in Futility”, and pretty much anything by Robert Frost (be still my gothic little heart…)
It’s just fucking beautiful. Definitely Stoker® material, if you ask me.
In the end, with Robert McCammon and Clive Barker taking home Lifetime achievement awards and, as stated above, Jeff Strand emceeing the event, it looks like we’ll be in for a good show at least.
I plan to be doing a live-tweet on the Dreadful Tales twitter account (@DreadfulTales) and my own personal account (@paperbackhorror) when my ass gets shut down for blabbing too much. You can also catch our post-Stoker® run-down… post… Stoker®… show… uh…
Okay. It’s obvious that I’ve got to wrap this up. I’ve got Mr. Noodles on the stove and Slither rockin’ the DVD player. Keep watching the site for reviews of Stoker® nominated works, and maybe an amended list when I inevitably realize I’ve made the wrong choices above.
(I’ve never used so many damned ® symbols in my life. This is ridiculous)