Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Horse races and horse trading

It's an electronics not working kind of a day. My voice mail isn't working, for example. Meanwhile, right now I'm waiting for an Internet tech support man to ring back. I told him that the internet was slow, and he sounded very doubtful and suggested that I do a speed test. I did. It's running at 6K, which was about half of what I'd guessed...

Anyway. Just a quick, happy post to say that Fragile Things was just nominated for the Edge Hill Prize for the short story.

According the web site (

The Edge Hill Prize is an exciting new award for excellence in the short story.

It will be bestowed annually by Edge Hill University on the writer who, in the opinion of the judges, is the author of the best collection published the previous year from a writer born or based in the UK or Ireland.

The winner in the inaugural year will receive a cheque for £5000 at an award ceremony at the Royal Exchange Theatre, Manchester on 20th July 2007.

We are pleased to announce this year’s shortlist:

* Neil Gaiman, Fragile Things (Headline Review)
* Jackie Kay, Wish I Was Here (Picador)
* Nicholas Royle, Mortality (Serpent's Tail)
* Colm Tòibìn, Mothers and Sons (Picador)
* Tamar Yellin, Kafka in Bronteland (Toby Press)

All the authors on the shortlist have been invited to read at the 2007 Short Story Conference at Edge Hill University on 21st July.

It's a really diverse bunch of nominees, and I'm thrilled that Fragile Things made it onto the list. I think people mostly think I'm exaggerating when I tell them that for me the fun is in being nominated for awards, not in winning, but overall that's true. (There have been exceptions. I loved winning the Hugo for American Gods, mind, because it was so unexpected, and I loved winning the World Fantasy Award for Sandman 19, because it was a recognition for the medium). I guess it's because I've been an awards judge and have watched what happens (all too often, everyone's second choice wins, because everyone can agree on that), and because the gap between win and lose is so small. I like being nominated -- it makes me feel like I've hit an award-nominated level of quality, and that feels good. Beyond that, it's a horse race and the end result of the horse race doesn't matter. I realise that there aren't a lot of people who feel like this about awards, and I'm also aware that it's easy for me to say, because I've already got my fair share of awards and more, so talking about not caring about the actual winning can sound, frankly, smug. But it's still how I feel.

And this is a good award: there's not enough attention paid to short stories. They're seen as trivial, or not as good as novels. They have that whiff of unreality about them that means that people who only write short stories are always being asked when they will be writing a real book. I've not seen another award given to single author collection regardless of genre.

I wish I could be in the UK for the announcement and to take part in the reading, but I'll be doing Stardust stuff in preparation for the San Diego Comic-Con on the following Wednesday, which means I'll be in the wrong country that week.

Okay. The tech support man phoned back (he said I should phone another tech support line instead). Now I can take the dog for a run.

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