Tag Archives: Awards

Waxing Lyrical : Accept no Substitutes

Accept no Substitutes.

by Adele Wearing

Please see the Waxing Lyrical category for more information on being part of this series. 

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A little while ago there was a lot of excitement over an openly gay character appearing in an established science fiction universe. The author was a straight white man. There is a lot of this going on, with writers recognising (at last) that people like to have the option of reading about characters more like them. The rise of the #weneeddiversebooks campaign, targeting mainly the young adult arena, certainly drives this point home.

diverse books

In itself, this greater representation seems like a good thing. We do need diverse books, we need to see the real variety the world provides represented in our reading, so on the one hand, yes we should all be pleased people are writing more diverse characters. For one thing, it makes books a bit more interesting. For another it’s important that everyone recognises the need for diversity and engages with it the best they can. I just want to take a moment here to stress; no one is saying that anyone else shouldn’t write more diverse characters. Not here anyway.

Of course this apparent progress has given rise to its own issues. How valuable is diversity that is only page deep? What is it people really want? Do we want straight white cis men to be representing everyone? Is that actually diversity or is it just the old guard hanging on to their dominance of genre fiction by telling other people’s stories for them instead of letting them tell their own.

In awards terms this year; The Hugo’s have shown that women and writers of colour are more than capable of writing their own stories and representing themselves, so perhaps the industry needs to open up more space for that and let them. As a side note, the Clarke award demonstrated that it is still ok to be white and male in science fiction, it turns out you just have to write really great books (therein may lie the actual problem for many of the writers crying SJW).

speak for myself

It’s an insidious issue, because it’s easy to claim the mantle of ‘ally’ by writing diverse characters and it’s very difficult to challenge reasonably. After all it’s not generally that LGBT writers don’t want straight writers having LGBT characters, it’s just, they want a chance to write their own books, their own characters and tell their own stories their way. It’s a near perfect soap box, it’s hard to tell a man who is trying to be an ally to women that he’s not helping, especially as the intentions may be entirely genuine, but if women can’t be heard, can’t be seen due to the sheer number of men selling feminism, then isn’t that at risk of silencing women just as effectively as the people who openly tell them to sit down and be quiet? Effectively you are talking over them, drowning their voices out and you might as well order off the menu for them while you are at it.

It amounts to this for me. If you really want to be an ally draw gay writers into your discussions about gay characters, help them to share some of your platform and be heard.  Readers, if you really want to support diversity you need to read diverse books and that means you need to seek out diverse authors: Nnedi Okorafor, James Bennett, Tade Thompson, and Zen Cho are a few good starting points. You may have to look a little further but when it comes to diverse reading accept no substitutes.

FantasyCon 2015

Books and Fox Field Bag packed we headed off to Nottingham and the East Midlands Conference Centre for another FantasyCon.

The Event

I arrived on the Saturday morning just as the Friday nighters were emerging for breakfast and in good time to drop some books off with Pendragon Press who I owe a huge thanks to for hosting homeless books, along with Alchemy for taking some copies of Wicked Women, which two of their editors had done under FS. I then headed to my first panel Monster Mash Up with Carrie Buchanan, Cassandra Khaw, Tim Lebbon, Will Macmillan Jones and Moderated by Jon Oliver who had karaoke throat. There was an examination of popular monsters, consideration as to whether there is anything new or we are just looking now to the very old, whether the real monsters are modern politicians, serial killers or every day scumbags and some thoughtful comments on the need for sensitivity when delving into other cultures for exciting new monsters.

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In the afternoon I moderated a panel on Marketing ‘Turn up the volume’ with Sophie Calder, Jo Fletcher, Matt Shaw, Graeme Reynolds and Danie Ware, which started with a fire alarm. Sadly we lost 15 minutes of what was a really interesting panel which meant I only asked about half my questions and the audience were cut a little short to. There were some excellent insights about how publishing has changed in terms of online presence and also in store behaviour, the need for authors to be willing to do a lot themselves and what publishers can offer in terms of guidance and support. In the audience questions we touched on where writers can go for support and advice, some of the well established writing groups that can offer advice, regional writing communities or organisations that offer courses and advice. Many courses run by Creative Leicestershire are completely free.

I thoroughly enjoyed participating in both and I hope everyone else enjoyed them too. A warning to future panel planners, if you put Carrie and I together again and please do, we may continue to riff on the most tasteless news items we can find. 😉

After that I was free to attend some panels which I did and I have to say the standard this year was excellent. Well done to Richard Webb for a huge amount of work and thought!

The Non Humans panels was entertaining and interested and I particularly enjoyed Ren going super dark about AI and people and love and Adrian and Ren discussing ethics and science. Some interesting thoughts generally on what makes something human and writing the alien from all the panel members which included Janet Edwards and Deborah Install and some very nice one liners from Gareth Powell.

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The screenwriting panel proved fascinating even as a non screen writer Stephen Volk, Jason Arnopp, Ellen Gallagher, Stephen Gallagher and Gavin Williams were lead through a fascinating discussion by Catherine Hill. Ellen’s passion and knowledge were a stand out for me in that panel.

On Sunday I attended the Audio panel lead by the incomparable Alasdair Stuart and featuring Chris Barnes, James Goss and Emma Newman who covered getting into it in the first place (various kinds of accident seem to feature heavily), what it involves, why they love it and numerous other things including a number of wonderful resources that had us all scribbling or typing away. A very funny, insightful and smart panel and perfect for the more general audience.

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It sounds as though readings, launches and other things all went well, several of our writers were involved over the weekend and I was glad to hear Jo Thomas had a good and well attended panel, Ruth Booth’s readings, including her Winter Tales poem were well recieved, Chloe rocked the Poetry Slam, Steve Poore had a good launch with his title for Kristell Ink and I hope everything went well for the everyone else. While we were there we got some stock signed and even sold a few books.

Of course one of the great joys of any convention is seeing old friends, making new ones, finally meeting people you’ve known online for ages, talking to people who actually understand what you are saying and get the references and are all excited about the same things! Learning new things, having better brains than yours to pick for advice and being around so many incredible inspiring people. The collective levels of creativity at FantasyCon are mind blowing.

The whole event was well organised, ran smoothly and the teams behind it and running it all on the ground did an amazing job. The panelists were wonderful and I heard good things from everyone who attended panels. A huge thanks to the FantasyCon team and good luck to the 2016 FCon the T’sea team!

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The Awards

We were on three shortlists Best Short Story for Gaie Sebold’s story in Wicked Women, Best Fantasy Novel with Breed by K.T. Davies and Best Indie Press for the second year running. I thought in spite of very stiff competition Breed was in with a chance so was pretty nervous.

Juliet McKenna did a sterling job, noting the loss of Graham Joyce which got a strong and emotional response from the community and neatly rounding up the sad puppies saga and moving on from it very nicely indeed. There was a standing ovation when Juliet was very deservingly awarded the Karl Edward Wagner Award.

It seemed to be a night for people being caught off guard and speechless. Literally, most of the winners had prepared nothing! Those that had sometimes did so on the back of a menu as a just in case. I think it was all the lovelier for it. I thoroughly enjoyed the delighted and flabberghasted responses of people unused to accepting awards, of which somehow I found myself one!

Breed lost to the marvellous Frances Harding who is a worthy winner so huge congratulations to Francis. Best Short went to Emma Newman which again is a great winner and I am delighted! But Fox Spirit Books did get Best Indie Press and I was shaking so much with shock of it I had to hold the podium with both hands while I stumbled out something about the skulk being an amazing group to wok with and a wonderful community and a shout out to Alasdair Stuart for being integral in conning me into it in the first place. Also thanks to the judges for ploughing through a stack of material on usb sticks (we published 18 titles in 2014, I don’t know how).

If you will all indulge me I will now go on to repeat my sentiments a little more coherently:

Fox Spirit is barely over three years old, we have over 30 titles out and have worked with a huge number of incredible writers and artists in that time. I am deeply proud of everything we have done both in terms of books and the community the Skulk have built for themselves through shared TOC’s and events like Fcon. It is an honour to help these stories get out there and to watch you all support and encourage each other.

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I want to say as well that behind the scenes Daz (our copy editor), Gav (our formatter) and Vince who picks up a lot of layouts and things last minute, do a tremendous amount to help make FS work. I would be lost, utterly without their hard work and support. There are many others who help at various times in various ways and I am utterly grateful to them too.

Alasdair Stuart, Kate Laity and Steven Savile were all instrumental in the great small press con job, for which I love them all the more.

In the last year my business partner and also Mr Fox have provided a huge amount of support in a variety of ways to help keep FS going strong.

Our readers, reviewers, retweeters, likers, sharers etc are amazing and we value you all and everyone in the BFS who nominated, voted, judged on any award (I’ve done it, it’s hard!) you are all hugely important to us and thank you.

So 2016 is another busy year and this one isn’t over, so I better get back to work but this lovely wooden thing is truly a credit to the whole skulk!

IMG_1624A full list of the Winners for this year can be found here. A wonderful crowd I am honoured to have been part of!

 

British Fantasy Awards

It’s that time of year foxy folk.

Shortlisted for Best Small Press & Best Anth 2014

Well in our second year of running we were shortlisted for Best Anthology (Tales of Eve) and Best Indie Press. This year, our third as an entity, we have been shortlisted for Best Fantasy Novel ‘Breed’ by K.T. Davies and Best Indie Press for the second time.

Breed Final Digital Cover for Upload

 

We also made the shortlist for Best Short Story with ‘Change of Hear’t by Gaie Sebold which appears in our Wicked Women anthology (edited by Jenny Barber and Jan Edwards). Out of the six nominees for best artist we have worked with Ben Baldwin on King Wolf, Daniele Serra and Sarah Anne Langton on multiple titles and a number of other writers we have had the great pleasure of working with appear on shortlists this year including Den Patrick and Mark West. A big congratulations to everyone on the shortlists, we are in excellent company as always.

You can find the full shortlists here.

Cover by Sarah Anne Langton

Cover by Sarah Anne Langton

Edit

Gosh almost forgot our big Victory on Saturday. The North beat the South 6-0 at the Harrogate Crime Festival, picking up injuries and dishing out a few dirty tackles by the looks of the pics (or the South were soft and diving). Fox Spirit was the official team sponsor and proud to have the tough Northern crime writers join the skulk and display their fox spirit on the pitch.

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Awards Season

Awards season has well and truly started and we hope you will forgive us a moment of vanity as we ask for your support.

Our own Joan De La Haye (Shadows, Requiem in E Sharp, Oasis, Burning) is up for an award in the South African Indies for ‘Burning’. We couldn’t be prouder and if you had a moment to support that would be very wonderful of you. Voting is open now.

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Also at the moment the British Fantasy Society are taking suggestions for their shortlist. We were surprised and delighted to be shortlisted for Best Anthology and Best Small Press last year and if you like what we are doing we would be really pleased* to have your nomination this year.

* massive understatement.

You can check out when our books were published here.

***Bouchercon Voters: Eligible crime releases include
ANTHOLOGY: Drag Noir ed. K. A. Laity
COLLECTION: Extricate/Throw the Bones by Graham Wynd
NOVEL: White Rabbit by K. A. Laity
SHORT STORIES:

Any/all of the DRAG NOIR stories
“Headless in Bury.” Missing Monarchs: Fox Pockets Anthology
“Smallbany.” Short story. Free promotional story for Drag Noir from Fox Spirit Books