Saturday, July 26, 2008
Monday, July 21, 2008
Boston, MA (July 2008) -- In recognition of the legacy of Shirley Jackson’s writing, and with permission of the author’s estate, the Shirley Jackson Awards have been established for outstanding achievement in the literature of psychological suspense, horror, and the dark fantastic.
The Shirley Jackson Awards are voted upon by a jury of professional writers, editors, critics, and academics, with input from a Board of Advisors. The awards are given for the best work published in the preceding calendar year in the following categories: Novel, Novella, Novelette, Short Story, Single-Author Collection, and Edited Anthology.
The Shirley Jackson Awards were presented on Sunday, July 20th 2008, at Readercon 19, Conference on Imaginative Literature, in Burlington, Massachusetts. National Book Critics Circle Award-winning novelist Jonathan Lethem was the Master of Ceremonies.
The winners for the 2007 Shirley Jackson Awards are:
Generation Loss, Elizabeth Hand (Small Beer Press)
“Vacancy,” Lucius Shepard (Subterranean #7, September 2007)
“The Janus Tree,” Glen Hirshberg (Inferno, Tor)
“The Monsters of Heaven,” Nathan Ballingrud (Inferno, Tor)
The Imago Sequence and Other Stories, Laird Barron (Night Shade Books)
Inferno, edited by Ellen Datlow (Tor)
Shirley Jackson (1916-1965) wrote such classic novels as The Haunting of Hill House and We Have Always Lived in the Castle, as well as one of the most famous short stories in the English language, “The Lottery.” Her work continues to be a major influence on writers of every kind of fiction, from the most traditional genre offerings to the most innovative literary work.
Media representatives who are seeking further information or interviews should contact JoAnn F. Cox.
Sunday, July 13, 2008
In honor of Shirley Jackson, Ellen Datlow will be hosting a reading of Shirley Jackson’s work by award-winning and leading authors of the dark fantastic and horror on July 23rd at the KGB Bar in New York City. Proceeds from the event will benefit the Shirley Jackson Awards.
Shirley Jackson (1916-1965) wrote such classic novels as The Haunting of Hill House and We Have Always Lived in the Castle, as well as one of the most famous short stories in the English language, “The Lottery.” “The Lottery” was first published on June 28, 1948 in The New Yorker.
Ms. Jackson’s work continues to be a major influence on writers of every kind of fiction, from the most traditional genre offerings to the most innovative literary work. National Book Critics Circle Award-winning novelist Jonathan Lethem has called Jackson “one of this century’s most luminous and strange American writers,” and multiple generations of authors would agree.
Authors who will read from Ms. Jackson’s work are:
F. Brett Cox's most recent stories appeared in Black Static and Postscripts. His newest story, "She Hears Music Up Above," is forthcoming in the original anthology from Prime Books, Phantom. With Andy Duncan, he co-edited Crossroads: Tales of the Southern Literary Fantastic. He is a juror for the 2007 Shirley Jackson Awards.
Jeffrey Ford is author of the novels The Portrait of Mrs. Charbuque and The Girl in the Glass, and the story collection, The Empire of Ice Cream. In 2008 he will have out a new novel, The Shadow Year, and a new collection, The Drowned Life.
Jack Ketchum is the author of many novels, including Joyride, Red, Only Child, and Hide and Seek. His book of two novellas was just released by Leisure, and his collection of memoirs, titled Book of Souls, is about to be published by Bloodletting Press.
Carrie Laben’s story “Something in the Mermaid Way,” is a nominee in the short story category for the 2007 Shirley Jackson Awards. Another story is just out in the anthology Phantom. She is currently working on her first novel, in which most of the nicer characters are rats.
John Langan's collection, Mr. Gaunt and Other Uneasy Encounters, is forthcoming from Prime Books. His novella, "How the Day Runs Down," or, as he likes to call it, "my zombie Our Town," will appear in John Joseph Adams's massive zombie anthology, The Living Dead, in September. He is a juror for the 2007 Shirley Jackson Awards.
Sarah Langan’s first novel, The Keeper, was a New York Times Editor's Pick. Her second novel, The Missing, won the Stoker Award for outstanding novel of 2007. Her third novel, Audrey's Door, is slated for publication in early 2009. She's currently at work on a collection of short stories. She is a juror for the 2007 Shirley Jackson Awards.
Peter Straub is the author of seventeen novels, including Ghost Story, Koko, Mr. X, In the Night Room, and two collaborations with Stephen King. He also has written two volumes of poetry and two collections of short fiction, and he edited the Library of America’s edition of H. P. Lovecraft’s Tales. He has won many awards for his writing and in 1998, was named Grand Master at the World Horror Convention. In 2006, he was given the Horror Writers Association’s Life Achievement Award.
David Wellington is the author of Monster Island, 13 Bullets, 99 Coffins, and the forthcoming Vampire Zero. His work is serialized online for free at www.davidwellington.net.
Jack Womack is the author of Ambient, Terraplane, Heathern, Elvissey, Random Acts of Senseless Violence, Let’s Put the Future Behind Us, and Going, Going, Gone. He was in 1994 a co-winner of the Philip K. Dick Award for Elvissey.
An evening of live readings from Ms. Jackson’s work is sure to unsettle audience members. The event will take place at KGB Bar, well-known for its regularly held readings of poetry and non-fiction, and for the Fantastic Fiction reading series, co-hosted by Ellen Datlow and Matthew Kressel. KGB is located at 85 East 4th Street (just off 2nd Ave) New York City.
Readings from Shirley Jackson’s work will begin at 7pm and end by 9pm. The cover charge is $5 per person.
In recognition of the legacy of Shirley Jackson’s writing, and with permission of the author’s estate, the Shirley Jackson Awards have been established for outstanding achievement in the literature of psychological suspense, horror, and the dark fantastic. The 2007 Shirley Jackson Awards will be presented on Sunday, July 20th 2008, at Readercon 19, Conference on Imaginative Literature, in Burlington, Massachusetts.
Media representatives who are seeking further information or interviews should contact JoAnn
Wednesday, July 2, 2008
Since "Thumbprint" is partially based on current events, was this the type of story that you heard on the news and you felt "I must write this story..." or is it more along the lines that you were looking for a compelling story to write and this is what turned up?
"Thumbprint" was the first story I wrote, post GHOSTS, that felt fresh, that excited me enough to finish... I think, in part, because I had never written a story with a convincing female lead. All of the stories in GHOSTS - and my novel - were about troubled, morally adrift boys and men. What I responded to, what led me to tell this particular story, was the chance to explore this very angry haunted woman, to get inside Mal Grennan's head and find out how she felt about the things she had done in Iraq. So, no, I didn't decide to write about Abu Ghraib and then build a story around that subject. I decided to write about Mal, and it happened that Mal had served in Abu Ghraib.
How do you think the Iraq War has affected the horror genre?
For one thing, we've seen a whole avalanche of movies often referred to as torture-porn: flicks like Hostel and Saw. I think those films are pretty obviously a reaction to what's been going on in Iraq and Guantanamo Bay, and a shared cultural fear that America might have done some things in the last few years, in the name of self-preservation, that will come back to bite us later. We don't want to be torturers, and suddenly we are.
You see this, though, throughout pop culture history. In the fifties, when people were afraid of being infiltrated by the communists, you had stories about invasion: Body Snatchers and The Thing. Fears of atomic weapons and atomic power provided the fuel for movies like THEM! and books like On the Beach. In the Seventies, you had Charlie Manson, so it was only natural you'd have films like Texas Chainsaw Massacre. When you watched the evening news, you saw naked babies with Napalm burns, and soldiers covered in their own blood, so it made sense that stories and films would also correspondingly become more violent and gory. Fiction is always a tool for grappling with questions that frighten and discomfit us, questions with difficult answers, or maybe no answers at all.
You've written your fair share of supernatural horror stories but that's not the case with "Thumbprint". How do you decide whether to include or not include the supernatural in your stories?
I always work from concept first. I need an idea that excites me, an absurd or frightening or unexpected what if to explore. Such as, what if someone loved the movies so much that they kept going to them after they died? Or what if you started getting letters from some mysterious person, blank letters, nothing on them except a single black thumbprint? How scary would that be? And so I usually know before I go into a story, whether it has a supernatural element or not, because it's right there in the idea.
That's easy. It has to be scary.
Having written both novels and short stories, which format do you prefer?
I don't really have a preference. My attitude is that a story shouldn't go on one sentence longer than it needs to. I don't care whether it takes a year to write or an evening, whether it's a movie, a novel, a short story, or a comic book. I always want the same things out of a story. I want a character to explore, someone with secrets and regrets, someone struggling to become a better person, someone with something to confess. And I also want the narrative to rush the reader along toward some powerful final moment, without wasting their time, and without making them feel like what they're doing is work and it would really be more fun to turn on the TV. That's what I'm after every time I write, and I'm content to let a story tell me whether it ought to be thirty pages or three hundred.
What in your opinion is the advantage of the short story format, at least when it comes to the horror genre and how you write?
In a short story, you've only got thirty pages to operate in, and so by necessity much is left to the reader's imagination. And in horror especially, the things the reader imagines are often much worse than anything the writer could come up with. The voice screaming behind the door is dreadful because you don't know what's happening to that person. The thing moving in the darkness is much less terrifying once it moves into the light.
Our fundraising anthology, Jack Haringa Must Die! is now available. Price: $10
Tuesday, July 1, 2008
I think my first allegiance is to story (the thing that happened, that needs to be told, that someone wants, perhaps needs, to hear). Details of character and setting are what draw a reader into the story. Horror, with its fantastical elements, probably needs to create a deeper sense of verisimilitude to counter its inherent weirdness. Anyway, the visible world and its inhabitants warrant close observation; it’s fun to try to make the old new, part of the joy of writing fiction. Horror, as I see it, isn’t designed for fable or myth; it isn’t Everyman facing Existential Horror. It is more apt to be an exclamation of personal dread, something like: “Jeez! This is happening to me!”
Were there any parts in "The Tenth Muse" that was based on personal experience? What kind of research did you have to do for the story?
I was living in a small town in Missouri when I wrote this story. I had also just finished reading a biography of Harper Lee. What more can I say? I guess I can say I am really, really glad to be back in Austin, Texas.
What is it about the horror genre that appeals to you?
John Fowles, in his novel, Daniel Martin, has the narrator state the following: “The hyperactive imagination is as damaging a preparation for reality as it is useful in writing.” True words. My hyperactive brain always hears the bad news in a ringing phone. Horror is hard to dodge in the world. I suspect my first thought, on being born, was Oh great! I’m in a hospital! Writing fiction appeals to me, and horror often feels like the most accurate and appropriate perspective for a writer considering the disturbing aspects of trapped sentience. Stephen King understands this mortality problem—but so does Flannery O’Connor, so does Cormac McCarthy (our most gruesome horror writer). Most writers are, to one degree or another, horror writers.
Our fundraising anthology, Jack Haringa Must Die! is now available. Price: $10