Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Cover & novel teaser - "The Heroes" by Joe Abercrombie

Joe Abercrombie will delight his fans and the fantasy readers with another stand-alone novel next year, “The Heroes”. Orbit Books revealed an initial design for the cover artwork of Joe Abercrombie’s future novel. I say the initial design because the map on the cover is the same with the one on the cover of “Best Served Cold” and will be replaced with a new one once the artist finishes the map. The artist who made the artwork is Steve Stone.

I can’t honestly say that I am a fan of the cover artwork, but I still have to wait for that particular map. However, I can’t say that the amount of blood works in favor of the artwork for me. It is a bit too much and a bit too red. I mean that blood doesn’t always create a clear pellicle, as clear as to generate such a reflection. Or I believe so, because I don’t have such an experience and I don’t wish for one either. Also because of the artwork and the author’s name it is easy to miss the map at a first glance on the cover and that will be a shame since I am certain that the artist will make efforts for a good one. Overall, I cannot say that it is a bad cover, but it is not an excellent one either. At least for me.

Also on the Orbit Books website we can find a teaser of “The Heroes” and that one makes me forget about the cover artwork, because it promises a dark reading focused on characters:

War: where the blood and dirt of the battlefield hide the dark deeds committed in the name of glory. THE HEROES is about violence and ambition, gruesome deaths and betrayals; and the brutal truth that no plan survives contact with enemy. The characters are the stars, as ever, and the message is dark: when it comes to war, there are no heroes…
Curnden Craw: a ruthless fighter who wants nothing more than to see his crew survive.
Prince Calder: a liar and a coward, he will regain his crown by any means necessary.
Bremer dan Gorst: a master swordsman, a failed bodyguard, his honor will be restored—in the blood of his enemies.
Over three days, their fates will be sealed.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010


Someone told me that I’ve entered in the second half of my life, but I believe the respective someone is a pessimistic one, because I certainly don’t feel like it. And as long as my soul remains young the age doesn’t seem to have much importance. My lovely wife invited me to Tim Burton’s “Alice in Wonderland” for my birthday, so it is time to celebrate a bit :D

Monday, March 29, 2010

2009 Bram Stoker Awards

This week-end, at the World Horror Convention in Brighton, UK, the Horror Writers Association has announced the winners of the 2009 Bram Stoker Awards:

Superior Achievement in a Novel: “Audrey’s Door” by Sarah Langan (Harper)

Superior Achievement in a First Novel: “Damnable” by Hank Schwaeble (Jove)

Superior Achievement in Long Fiction: “The Lucid Dreaming” by Lisa Morton (Bad Moon Books)

Superior Achievement in Short Fiction: “In the Porches of My Ears” by Norman Prentiss (Postscripts #18)

Superior Achievement in an Anthology: “He is Legend: An Anthology Celebrating Richard Matheson” edited by Christopher Conlon (Gauntlet Press)

Superior Achievement in a Collection: “Taste of Tenderlion” by Gene O’Neill (Apex Book Company)

Superior Achievement in Nonfiction: “Writers Workshop of Horror” by Michael Knost (Woodland Press)

Superior Achievement in Poetry: “Chimeric Machines” by Lucy A. Snyder (Creative Guy Publishing)

Congratulations to all the winners!

I had the chance recently to ask some of the nominees for the 2009 Bram Stoker Awards two questions about the nomination and the winning of such an award and you can find the result here on my blog.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

In the mailbox

I am always thrilled when Mr. Postman leaves books in my mailbox, now I’ve got even more excited. Because this time it’s quite a selection (not that on other occasions isn't): “Thirteen Years Later” one of my most anticipated novels of 2010, “White is for Witching” because I read somewhere (I am sorry that I don’t remember where) that the novel deserved a nomination for 2009 Bram Stoker Awards but it was left out, “Lexus Trent versus The Gods” because I have Alex Bell’s novels on my bookshelves but I didn’t read them and this will be a good excuse to pick them up and “Shadow Prowler” because I grew up with Russian stories and I am curious to see how Alexey Pehov tackles the fantasy genre.

- "Thirteen Years Later" by Jasper Kent (through the courtesy of Transworld Books);

Aleksandr made a silent promise to the Lord. God would deliver him – would deliver Russia – and he would make Russia into the country that the Almighty wanted it to be. He would be delivered from the destruction that wasteth at noonday, and from the pestilence that walketh in darkness – the terror by night ...
1825. Russia has been at peace for a decade. Bonaparte is long dead and the threat of invasion is no more. For Colonel Aleksei Ivanovich Danilov, life is calm. The French have been defeated, as have the twelve monstrous creatures he once fought alongside, and then against, all those years before. His duty is still to his tsar, Aleksandr the First, but today the enemy is merely human.
However, the tsar himself knows he can never be at peace. He is well aware of the uprising fermenting within his own army, but his true fear is of something far more terrible – something that threatens to bring damnation upon him, his family and his country. Aleksandr cannot forget a promise: a promise sealed in blood … and broken a hundred years before.
Now the victim of the Romanovs’ betrayal has returned to demand what is his. The knowledge chills Aleksandr’s very soul. And for Aleksei, it seems the vile pestilence that once threatened all he held dear has returned, thirteen years later …

- "Succubus Shadow" by Richelle Mead (through the courtesy of Transworld Books);

Georgina Kincaid has formidable powers. Immortality, seduction, shape-shifting into any human form she desires, walking in heels that would cripple mere mortals - all child’s play to a succubus like her.
Helping to plan her ex-boyfriend’s wedding is a different story. Georgina isn’t sure which is worse - that Seth is marrying another woman, or that Georgina has to run all over Seattle trying on bridesmaid dresses. Still, there are distractions. Georgina’s roommate, Roman, is cluttering her apartment with sexual tension. Then there’s Simone, the new succubus in town, who’s intent on corrupting Seth.
But the real danger lies in the mysterious force that’s visiting her thoughts, trying to draw her into a dark, otherworldly realm. Sooner or later, Georgina knows she’ll be too weak to resist. And when that happens, she’ll discover who she can trust, who she can’t...and that Hell is far from the worst place to spend eternity.

- "White is for Witching" by Helen Oyeyemi (through the courtesy of Picador Books);

High on the cliffs near Dover, the Silver family is reeling from the loss of Lily, mother of twins Eliot and Miranda, and beloved wife of Luc. Miranda misses her with particular intensity. Their mazy, capricious house belonged to her mother’s ancestors, and to Miranda, newly attuned to spirits, newly hungry for chalk, it seems they have never left. Forcing apples to grow in winter, revealing and concealing secret floors, the house is fiercely possessive of young Miranda. Joining voices with her brother and her best friend Ore, it tells her story: haunting in every sense, and a spine-tingling tribute to the power of magic, myth and memory. Miri I conjure you . . .

- "Lex Trent versus The Gods" by Alex Bell (through the courtesy of Headline);

Law student Lex Trent’s world is inhabited by fearsome magicians, ageing crones and a menagerie of Gods and Goddesses. And while Lex is seemingly dedicated to his legal studies he’s always enjoyed a challenge – which is why he leads a double life as the notorious cat burglar ‘The Shadowman’ who has been (luckily) evading capture for years.
But Lex’s luck is about to run out because the Goddess of Fortune has selected him to be her player in the highly dangerous Games. Losing is not an option for Lex (particularly as it so often involves dying) but can he really win each of the perilous rounds? Given that the reward for doing so is money, fame and glory – all things that Lex is quite keen on – he’s going to do whatever it takes to make sure he will... and he’s certainly got good experience of cheating.

- "Shadow Prowler" by Alexey Pehov (through the courtesy of Tor Books).

After centuries of calm, the Nameless One is stirring.
An army is gathering; thousands of giants, ogres, and other creatures are joining forces from all across the Desolate Lands, united, for the first time in history, under one, black banner. By the spring, or perhaps sooner, the Nameless One and his forces will be at the walls of the great city of Avendoom.
Unless Shadow Harold, master thief, can find some way to stop them.

Thank you very much!

Friday, March 26, 2010

A new interview

For the second time I changed my usual seat in an interview and from the interviewer I've become the interviewed. Responsible for the change is Jason Baki, the blogger behind Kamvision. If you would like to see the result of this change you can find it posted at Jason Baki’s blog. :)

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Fantasy Art - Henning Ludvigsen

© The artwork presented on this post is used with the permission of its author. All the artwork is copyrighted. Please do not use the images without the permission of the artist or owner.

Henning Ludvigsen is a Norwegian artist born Holmestrand and who currently lives in Athens, Greece. Henning drew from an early age and at the age of 16 he started to study at an art school. After graduating from school, Henning Ludvigsen started to work in the advertisement industry until 2003, when he switched to the computer game development. Henning does also freelancing works and along his career he worked with companies such as Fantasy Flight Games, Games Workshop or Eidos and writing articles for ImagineFX magazine. Henning also won a series of awards for his work, such as CGHUB Master Artist award, multiple CGTalk Choice awards, ImagineFX Master of Art or Pixeltheory Award.

Interview with Henning Ludvigsen

Mihai (Dark Wolf): Henning, thank you very much for the interview.
How did you become interested in art? When did you start to draw?
Henning Ludvigsen: I guess my answer to your first question is going to be pretty standard and cliché; I was always interested in drawing and painting, ever since I was just a few years old. I was always creative making things out of anything that I could find, and the transition to art school education was natural and seamless. I had even made up my mind to become an illustrator when I was very young.

Mihai (Dark Wolf): Who do you consider to be the artist that inspired your career? Who is the most influential figure on your art career?
Henning Ludvigsen: I've always looked up to Boris Vallejo, the legendary fantasy artist. He is probably considerably guilty for a big part of my interest for fantasy art. My list is considerably longer today.

Mihai (Dark Wolf): You’ve started to study art at early age. Do you consider that starting an art school from an early age helped you improve your skills more?
Henning Ludvigsen: Yes, I started basic traditional art school when I was 16 years old. My two years there was the best time of my life, and I learned a lot about traditional art. We didn't use computers at all, but what I learned there is still as valid no matter what medium you're using, so I do feel that I had a very good base to build from.

M(DW): You have experience with the both mediums of work, traditional and digital. Do you think that there is a different set of skills necessary for each of them? Does the experience with each of these mediums help improve working with the other?
HL: I honestly haven't used any traditional mediums since I finished art school in 1993. I believe that there are different sets of skills that apply to traditional and digital mediums, but they also intertwine making it easier learning one by knowing the other. I sure feel that I have tremendous advantage from learning traditional art and then add this to the digital way of working. It also makes you appreciate real craftsmanship more, I think.

M(DW): Which one is your favorite? Does it happen to start an artwork in one medium and finish it in the other?
HL: I work 100% digitally; from sketch to final product. Most people prefer starting out on paper, but I work faster digitally and with constant pressure from deadlines I chose to use the most efficient way; still, not necessarily the best way but it works for me.

M(DW): You’ve studied traditional art in school and digital art through self-teaching. Which method do you think that is easier, the art school or the self-teaching? Which are the advantages and disadvantages of each method?
HL: I started out playing around with digital art very early, with pixels and very few colours on the Commodore 64, to be precise, and later on the Amiga platform. It wasn't until later on the Mac/PC that I saw the real possibilities of working digitally with access to proper software and a wide range of colours. From my experience, working traditionally is very different from working on the computer. Traditional art is easier as you don't experience certain technical restrictions or problems, and you might feel more “connected” to a traditional piece that you can actually physically feel and smell. But what wins over anything in the very end is that beloved Undo button, he-he.

M(DW): For ten years you worked in the advertising industry before moving to the computer game development. You said that in those ten years you didn’t do what you liked the most, paint. How did your experience in the advertising industry influence your work in the computer game development? Do you use techniques learned in the advertising while working on a computer game?
HL: When I worked in ad-agencies, I got to do some illustration work in-between standard work things depending on the project, but it wasn't the kind of illustration work I wanted to do. I wanted to do higher quality work, and not just make some cheesy character to sell some random product. Still, I did learn A LOT from these years as I got forced to master all kinds of styles, all levels of complexities, short deadlines which trained my decision making experience, and so on. This made it easier for me to do get involved with a wide set of different things today when working with computer games. Most of the techniques I do today are different, but there are still elements from my old profession that I make good use of, in addition to working fast and efficient.

M(DW): Your preferred theme, if I am not mistaken, is fantasy. What attracts you towards fantasy? Do you feel that fantasy gives you more freedom of expression?
HL: I like both fantasy and sci-fi, but I seem to fall back on fantasy when I find myself sitting down painting something for myself. I'm not sure why I seem to prefer this genre, but I guess that the fact that I'm a bit of a geek who enjoys fantasy and sci-fi movies/TV-series, pen and paper role-playing games, and computer games, it's natural for me to dwell in what interests me.

M(DW): Does your interest in fantasy go outside art too, in literature and cinematography for example? I saw that you made a few book covers. Is there a novel in particular for which you would like to illustrate the cover if possible?
HL: Yes, I am a fond fan of fantasy and sci-fi movies and TV-series, and I'm always trying to keep an overview and catch everything that I think might interest me. I've made a few book covers, but I don't read much as I simply don't have the time, he-he. I don't have a holy grail of a novel that I would like to illustrate, but I did enjoy the Warhammer 40K Rogue Trader book cover I made for Fantasy Flight Games. I don't think I'll ever get anything cooler than that so I guess I am happy with what I've achieved so far.

M(DW): I know that one of your dreams is making art with as few restrictions as possible? Do you feel restricted at the moment? Do you feel that these restrictions are imposed by you personally or by the domain of work?
HL: I'm a Norwegian living in Greece with a Swiss girlfriend. Things are complicated, and I would love to see a more simplified situation rise sometime in near future. I don't have any specific ideas as to what it could be, more hopes and daydreams. In addition to my full time job as a game developer, I work a lot during evenings and weekend, and I have little to no time for anything else. It's been about two years since my last personal painting, since I'm reaching critical mass with too many interesting projects getting offered. It's hard to turn those down, even though I sometimes have to.

M(DW): I know that you use many reference photos of your friends and yours when working on portraits. Do you use references when it comes to other subjects besides portrait? Can be the use of references a restriction?
HL: I prefer using reference especially when painting characters. There's just so much information you can find in a face that your imagination simply can't make up on its own. Little imperfections, errors, creases and light and shadow situations that any keen student of light and shadows couldn't make up on their own. I don't find using references for parts of my work restricting at all. If this is restricting your work, then you're simply doing it wrong. It should aid you, not limit you. (I'm using the term references as in looking at something for inspiration, not actually using photo parts in my work. Some people tend to misunderstand this term.)

M(DW): Would you use someone’s photo if he/she would ask you to make a painting based on it?
HL: I don't really do personal commissions any more, and I never work for free. Should someone still ask me to do a job like this, then yes, as long as the reference is good to work with and I can see the details needed to capture the person. No blurry, drunken sofa photos taken with an inbuilt flash. Yeah, I've gotten a few of those, he-he.

M(DW): On your website there are many tutorials of your art and you also used to run a forum about art, Pixelbrush. Does the fact that you are also a self-taught artist fuel these initiatives? Do you think that the new and developing artists can use more such features from the already established illustrators?
HL: We recently shut down Pixelbrush, unfortunately, but I wouldn't be surprised it sees the light of day again sometime in the future, perhaps in a slightly different wrapping. I believe in artists helping each other, and as I've learned a lot from different art communities throughout the years, it just came natural to open Pixelbrush. It even grew completely on its own, with the members asking for the different activities we used to have. Good times. Any artist needs good and helpful feedback, no matter the skill level. It's hard to get this online; it can either be too shallow, or too harsh leaving the artist a bit helpless, unmotivated and perhaps running in the wrong direction with their art because of invalid or simply insufficient feedback.

M(DW): You worked on board games, card games and computer games. Which one offered you more pleasant moments while working on it? Does each of these types of games needs a different approach when it comes to the art involved in their creation?
HL: Yeah, all of these are completely different beasts; card games are fairly straightforward, with basic illustrations printed in a small format, which is the key-word here; composition has to work on a small scale. All board games are different from each other, and mostly more technical, and a bit more limited as you're often bound by grids or cut out templates and so on. Computer games takes every skill you have, and even some you didn't knew you had to pull through. They all need different ways of thinking, planning, and executing.

M(DW): You did quite a few maps while working on the board games. Did you enjoy the experience? Would you like to repeat this experience in the future?
HL: I've always had a fascination for old maps, as a kid I would study old maps for hours. I am also very fond of the work of H.P. Lovecraft, making the creation of the boards of the city of Kingsport and harbor town of Innsmouth something I enjoyed very much.

M(DW): At what are you working at the moment and what future projects do you have?
HL: There's a massive force of pin-up requests nowadays, so I've been doing a lot of these lately. Most of which haven't been released yet as I'm bound by NDA's. I'm currently doing some work for a wine company, which is a lot of fun, and some more board and card games that I can't say much more about just yet. For the future; looks like even more pin-ups are waiting in line for me to be created. There's also a lot of work being done on our computer game, for this year (2010). We have a massive graphical update coming, leaving me and my team with more than enough tasks to keep busy and sweating. Wish I could be more specific here as well, but all I can say is that I'm looking forward to what's coming later this year, both for my personal projects and my full-time job.

Thank you very much for your time and answers. It has been a pleasure.
Thank you for having me, I'm feeling honored.

For information about Henning Ludvigsen and more of his works please visit his website, Henning Ludvigsen.

© The artwork presented on this post is used with the permission of its author. All the artwork is copyrighted. Please do not use the images without the permission of the artist or owner.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Book presentation - "Thirteen Years Later" by Jasper Kent

One of my favorite readings of 2009 was Jasper Kent’s novel, “Twelve”, and one of my most anticipated books of 2010 is its sequel, “Thirteen Years Later”. “Thirteen Years Later” was released last week and here is a video presentation of the novel, with Jasper Kent reading from his book and introducing the story, all mixed with some very beautiful images. I am very happy to say that I’ve received a copy of the novel yesterday and I will read and review it very soon. I am truly eager to see what adventures await Captain, now a Colonel, Aleksei Ivanovich Danilov.

Aleksandr made a silent promise to the Lord. God would deliver him – would deliver Russia – and he would make Russia into the country that the Almighty wanted it to be. He would be delivered from the destruction that wasteth at noonday, and from the pestilence that walketh in darkness – the terror by night ...
1825. Russia has been at peace for a decade. Bonaparte is long dead and the threat of invasion is no more. For Colonel Aleksei Ivanovich Danilov, life is calm. The French have been defeated, as have the twelve monstrous creatures he once fought alongside, and then against, all those years before. His duty is still to his tsar, Aleksandr the First, but today the enemy is merely human.
However, the tsar himself knows he can never be at peace. He is well aware of the uprising fermenting within his own army, but his true fear is of something far more terrible – something that threatens to bring damnation upon him, his family and his country. Aleksandr cannot forget a promise: a promise sealed in blood … and broken a hundred years before.
Now the victim of the Romanovs’ betrayal has returned to demand what is his. The knowledge chills Aleksandr’s very soul. And for Aleksei, it seems the vile pestilence that once threatened all he held dear has returned, thirteen years later …

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Cover art - "The Chronicles of King Rolen's Kin" by Rowena Cory Daniells

A little time ago I posted about a new series published by Solaris this summer, Rowena Cory Daniells“The Chronicles of King Rolen’s Kin”, and the cover artwork of the first novel in the series, “The King’s Bastard”. In the meantime the next two novels of the series, “The Uncrowned King” and “The Usurper”, have a cover illustration too, like the artwork for the first novel, made by Clint Langley. Although character centered, the three covers look really good, and I like that the illustrations follow the same pattern (a thing that I like to see in a series of novels), have very interesting details and a background that although it is only sketched it makes me very curious about the world of “The Chronicles of King Rolen’s Kin”. It is true that the illustration of the second novel has more vivid colors, but in the end all three of them would make me pick the book from a store shelf. The three novels in the Rowena Cory Daniells“The Chronicles of King Rolen’s Kin” will be released by Solaris Books in the course of three months, “The King’s Bastard” in July, “The Uncrowned King” in August and “The Usurper” in September.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Dark Wolf's Fantasy Reviews has 2 years

491 posts
97 reviews
53 interviews
Over 215,000 page views
Over 140,000 unique visitors
2 YEARS of Dark Wolf’s Fantasy Reviews
It is true that time flies, because it seems that only yesterday I’ve started this blog. But they have passed and besides the cold numbers you see above there were 2 years of wonderful things. My reading changed from two years ago, now I look differently on a book, luckily it is not overly critical but with a closer attention to the detail. This blog was a tremendous experience, changing my perspective over my passion and making it more pleasant and worthwhile. I know that I made mistakes and there is no guarantee that I will not make more. There was a time when I felt drained of energy because of a hectic period at work, but in the end the blog was the same pleasant experience and helped me pass that period more easily. 2 years, in which I had many interesting readings, I received many books, I had the chance to make interviews that I only dreamed to make before, my reviews were quoted on a couple of books and appeared in two e-zines, but above all, 2 years in which I met so many wonderful people and I made many new friends. Because of all of you the experience is more pleasant and reached a new dimension and therefore I want to thank you all very much!
Now, are you in for more? :D

Saturday, March 20, 2010

2010 British Fantasy Awards - The long list

This week the long list of the 2010 British Fantasy Awards has been announced. The awards include categories such as Best Novel, Best Novella, Best Short Story, Best Anthology, Best Collection, Best Small Press, Best Comic/Graphic Novel, Best Artist, Best Non-Fiction, Best Magazine, Best Television and Best Film, but also the Karl Edward Wagner Award and the Sydney J. Bounds Best Newcomer Award not present on this long list due to a different voting procedure. The long list includes the works recommended for the British Fantasy Awards and which will be voted by the members of BFS and FantasyCon from this month until May, with the shortlist of nominees due to be announced in June and the winners of the British Fantasy Awards at the FantasyCon 2010, that will take place between 17th and 19th of September at the Britannia Hotel in Nottingham. There are many titles I liked on that long list, but also many authors and works that I didn’t know about until I read the list. You can find the full list of recommended titles at the British Fantasy Society website.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

"The Harm" by Gary McMahon

"The Harm"
Format: Paperback, 64 pages
Publisher: TTA Press
Review copy received through the courtesy of the author, Gary McMahon

There were three of them then, Tyler, Roarke and Potter, and they were each eight years old: three young boys on the cusp, not yet aware of the darkness that lies at the heart of the world; children more at home with games and fantasy than hard reality. The day that fused these two states – when a nightmare became real life – changed them forever.
But all that happened much earlier, in the Autumn of 1980. This is what came later, long after the fact. Rather than the details of the incident itself, this story consti­tutes the results of the harm.

I am not fond at all of the electronic formats of books, I spend too much time in front of the computer screen already just to start exercising my passion on the same way. When Gary McMahon asked me if I would be interested in a review copy of his latest novella, “The Harm”, but in the PDF format I had a few moments of hesitation. Still, as I become more than interested in Gary McMahon’s writing career since I read his collection of stories, “How to Make Monsters”, I thought that this will be a small sacrifice.

The novella starts with a short excerpt from a newspaper, describing a violent act and an abuse suffered by three children, Tyler, Roarke and Potter. That excerpt might lead to the impression that “The Harm” will concentrate on that particular act, but Gary McMahon will not focus his efforts there, but on the late consequences of that act. Although starting from an act of excessive violence, “The Harm” will not offer any shocking image, it deals only with the psychological effects, taking the human factor into account. But in the end, those will prove to be more terrifying and with a much stronger effect.

“The Harm” is structured in four parts, three following the three abused children in one point of their adult life and one seen through the perspective of Potter’s sister, Audrey. Each of the four parts throws a light on the consequences of the past violent act on the lives of the victims and those around them. In the true sense of the butterfly effect the events of those twenty-four hours will create ripples through time and space over everyone’s existence, involved directly or indirectly in the horrific event. Gary McMahon takes a step further with the story, reaching towards the reader by taking a news snippet that can be familiar to anyone, stumbling on it while watching TV news or reading the newspaper, but giving it a new sense. Gary McMahon involves the human factor into his news and story, aspect that can be missed while drinking the morning coffee and listening to the news or while reading the details on the newspaper, and therefore putting the reader on thoughts and changing his perspective on the subject.

Previously of “The Harm” my only pleasant experience with a reading made on a computer screen was with Joe Hill’s “Gunpowder”, but this novella changed that, because Gary McMahon’s story is such a high-quality story that “The Harm” is worthy of a reading despite the form in which the novella is found.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Cover art - "Black House" (Czarny dom) by Stephen King & Peter Straub

One of my all time favorite novels is “The Talisman” by Stephen King and Peter Straub. Actually, it is correct to say that two of my favorite novels are the two written together by Stephen King and Peter Straub in “The Talisman” duology, “The Talisman” and “Black House”, but somehow “The Talisman” always comes first to mind. One of my favorite artists is Vincent Chong, always surprising me with his excellent book cover illustrations, and the Polish publisher, Prószyński I S-ka, brings together both my favorites in their edition of “Black House” (Czarny dom). Prószyński I S-ka will release the Polish edition of “Black House” on 6th of April and the book cover is illustrated by Vincent Chong. With yet another amazing artwork in my opinion and one of the best I’ve seen for one of my favorite novels.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Book deal - Gary McMahon & Solaris Books

I have fallen a bit behind with my reading lately, due to a few days of headaches that didn’t seem to stop. But today I feel better already and I think that I will be on my usual reading schedule again. But although I didn’t manage much reading these days I still finished Gary McMahon’s novella, “The Harm”, and I already sketched my review. And since I enjoyed a lot “The Harm” and I was talking about Gary McMahon’s career recently, I am happy to see that further news about his writing are revealed. I am also happy to see that Gary’s career is on a rise, with the publication of his novella, “The Harm”, at the World Horror Convention next week and with the book deal signed with Angry Robot Books I mentioned in my previous post, but also with the new deal, announced yesterday, signed with Solaris Books for a horror/urban-fantasy trilogy. As Solaris Books says it Gary's new series will be dark, gritty, intelligent, mysterious and moving and will start in 2011 with the novel “The Concrete Grove”.
Congratulations, Gary!

Monday, March 15, 2010

Fantasy Art - Todd Lockwood

© The artwork presented on this post is used with the permission of its author. All the artwork is copyrighted. Please do not use the images without the permission of the artist or owner.

Todd Lockwood hardly needs an introduction. The well-known American artist was born in Boulder, Colorado and he specialized in fantasy and science fiction illustration. Todd Lockwood studied at The Art Institute of Colorado in Denver, graduating in 1981. Todd has an illustrious freelance career and he is best known for the paintings made for TSR/Wizards of the Coast. Todd Lockwood illustrated the popular games released by Wizards of the Coast, their novels and magazines, among them the covers for the famous R.A. Salvatore’s Drizzt Do’Urden series of novels. He also illustrated other magazine covers such as Asimov’s Science Fiction, Analog Science Fiction or Realms of Fantasy and on many other book covers. His work and talent was recognized with numerous awards, including 12 Chesley Awards and 2 World Fantasy Art Show Awards, and his career was presented in the only book published so far dedicated to his art, “Transitions”, released in 2003.

Interview with Todd Lockwood

Mihai (Dark Wolf): Todd, thank you very much for your time and the opportunity of this interview.
Your bio states that you started to draw before you were two and this question might sound awkward for an established artist such as yourself, but may I ask what is your first recollection of art?
Todd Lockwood: My first memory of art is sitting on my father’s knee while he drew cartoon animals for me. My father was a fairly talented artist who never pursued art as a career. He ended up as a civil engineer.

Mihai (Dark Wolf): Who do you think that inspired and influenced your development as an artist? Who do you consider to be the most influential figure in your career?
Todd Lockwood: In no particular order: My father, Walt Disney, Frank Frazetta, Michael Whelan, Jeff Easley, Rick Berry, Donato Giancola, Brom, Keith Parkinson, Frank C. McCarthy, NC Wyeth, Andrew Wyeth, Rembrandt, Maxfield Parrish.

Mihai (Dark Wolf): After graduating from the Colorado Institute of Art you worked in design and in advertising. What influenced your decision to become an illustrator and in which context came this decision?
Todd Lockwood: After fifteen years of advertising I had literally burned out on art. I decided to get a better level of work or hang up my brushes and find another career, most probably real estate. Illustration is what drew me to art in the first place. Once I discovered the convention circuit, I knew that it was this or nothing. I remember in particular doing a test painting for my art agents in New York; they wanted me to get the Camel Cigarettes account. I had to do a test painting of Joe Camel, their cartoon mascot. At the time there was a great deal of concern about cartoon characters being used to sell cigarettes, because of the influence it might have on children. I didn’t really want to do Joe Camel, but I sure could have used a good account like that at the time, with three kids and a mortgage. So I agreed to do the test painting.
The whole time I was working on it, I could not escape thinking about a scene from a novel I has read, called Inferno, by Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle. It was a contemporary take on Dante’s Inferno; the hero of the story awoke in Dante’s limbo and had to take a journey through the heart of Hell in order to win his way to a better afterlife. Along the way he spied a friend trudging through a pit of human excrement, and was shocked to see this loving, hard working family-man in such an awful place. He asked his guide what this horrible torture was intended to rectify, at the same time trying to get his friend’s attention. His guide asked him what his friend had done for a living. “Advertising” was the answer. And as his friend opened his mouth to speak more human excrement came out of his mouth, while his guide explained that this was the hell for false flatterers.
I didn’t get the account, and I was always secretly glad.

M(DW): Today there are wonderful pieces made with digital tools and an increasing number of digital artists. What is your favorite method of work, the traditional or digital one? Does it happen to mix these methods in some of your artworks?
TL: I have never mixed the media other than to do a drawing in the computer, then print it out onto water color paper to paint it in oils. I primarily use Corel Painter, on my Macintosh computer, with a smidgen of Photoshop here and there. I really enjoy painting digitally; it solves so many problems that illustrators face. There is no drying time, no clean up, no photographing the art, no shipping costs, no fumes. But there is no painting at the end, only a file, so it’s a love-hate relationship either way I go.

M(DW): Do you have a favorite place where you feel comfortable when you work? What do you do when you have an inspiration and the place is inappropriate for drawing? I know that my mother used napkins when a situation like this happened.
TL: I’m a professional; I do my work in my studio, mostly at my computer. I spend eighteen hours a day in the same 5 foot by 5 foot patch of real estate. I do prefer to have no one else in the room, though. Sometimes I prefer silence, sometimes I want music, and sometimes I will put a movie in the other computer (the one that runs my prints) and listen to it while work.

M(DW): You are a long fan of Science Fiction and Fantasy works and also an avid Dungeons & Dragons player. Working on personal pieces do you like to inspire from such works or do you like to create your own fantasy worlds (I know that you have one in your basement :))?
TL: I prefer my own worlds and inventions. I never used modules when I DM’ed for my friends. I don’t get many opportuinities to do pieces for my own entertainment, but when I do they tend to be personal explorations of spiritual (or what some might consider religious) themes, like Kali-Prakriti or War of Angels.

M(DW): Speaking of fantasy, I have read a very interesting post on your blog, “Red-Headed Step Child”, about the under-appreciation of Fantasy Art. Why do you think that fantasy genre in general and fantasy art in particular is seen in this way? Do you think that such critiques fail to see the value of an artwork because it’s categorized in a genre or other?
TL: It’s strange, because I think it is only true in America that fantasy is regarded as childish. To really answer that question, I should just ask you to post a link to that blog entry ( But the short version is somewhere between the influence that Walt Disney had turning “fairy stories” into movies for little kids, and the fact that many Americans with entrenched, hard-core religious ideologies are threatened by anything that dares to view the other side of the veil through any lens but theirs.

M(DW): You are also interested in mythology and hidden meanings of Myth. Does your interest in mythology manifest in your artworks? Do mythological figures have a place in your art pieces?
TL: I refer you again to Kali-Prakriti, War of Angels, and also to Cerberus; these were done for me, and there are others like them waiting in my brain for the opportunity to be painted. And then, most fantasy in America is derived from old mythologies (especially D&D, which borrowed shamelessly!).

M(DW): As a long Role Playing player starting to work for TSR and later Wizards of the Coast must be a dream come true. How did you come in touch with TSR and how did you feel when this job opportunity arose?
TL: I met a guy at a convention who was a friend of one of the art directors at TSR, and he introduced me. Within six months I was freelancing for them, and then two of their artists quit, creating an opening that I jumped at.
It was a dream come true in many ways. It saved my art career in a very big way, because suddenly I was being paid to do the work I’d always wanted to do.

M(DW): One of my favorite characters is Drizzt Do’Urden and if R.A. Salvatore is the father of Drizzt I believe that Todd Lockwood is the man who gave him a face. What is your relationship with R.A. Salvatore and Drizzt Do’Urden?
TL: Bob Salvatore and I have become friends; we share a lot of values and opinions, quite apart from the character that we share. As to my relationship with Drizzt … it’s complicated. On the one hand, I love him: I got to design the look of him to my standards, and Bob’s books are incredibly fun to illustrate. On the other hand, there was a period when it seemed that all I was painting was Drizzt, and I started to hate him a little bit. Too much of even a good thing is still too much. But that was while I was doing new covers for the old books. Once those were done, the pace slowed down and I was able to like him again.

M(DW): Does Drizzt Do’Urden feature characteristics of Todd Lockwood’s personality? Do other characters you drew feature some of your characteristics and personality?
TL: It is said that every character in a book is the author. I think the same is true of characters in paintings. I dabble in writing myself, and have a project going on the same that I hope to get back to very soon. Whether you are writing the story or painting a picture of it, your sense of story is very important. What you know about every character’s actions and reactions comes from your own experience, so of course they are all in some way an extension of yourself. Perhaps some more than others, but it’s true across the board nonetheless.
As to Drizzt, he is sort of the angst-ridden teenager that lives in all of us, with an unnatural ability to act out his frustrations in a very effective manner. No wonder we all identify with him!

M(DW): Many other books covers on the Fantasy market benefit from your artwork. What involves the work on a book cover and do you have a preferred method when it comes to cover art? Are you advised on by the authors of the novels as well?
TL: It varies from job to job. Sometimes I get a manuscript to read, sometimes (and almost always with a new Salvatore book) the book hasn’t been written yet when I have to paint the cover. In those cases, I get an outline or synopsis, and if I can arrange it I love to chat with the author. I’ve become friends with some authors after doing their covers.

M(DW): You also have created many works for collectible cards. Is it very different a work on collectible cards than cover art? Is it necessary to have a different approach when it comes to collectible cards?
TL: Yes; collectible cards have to work at a very small scale, but the buyers usually want to also be able to scale them up for marketing purposes, so they have to be tight. Details have to be simpler for card art. Otherwise, both require the careful application of the fundamentals of design that we use as illustrators.

M(DW): Your wonderful career and artworks were rewarded with many awards, among others 2 World Fantasy Art Show Awards and 12 Chesley Awards. How do you feel when your art is appreciated in such way? Besides the awards rewarded for a particular piece you received also the Chesley Award for Artistic Achievement in 2004. Does this award have a special meaning for you?
TL: It’s always nice to get an appreciation like those. I have had a silver medal in the Spectrum competition as well, which is perhaps my favorite award — for War of Angels. Illustrators spend many long hours alone crafting their works, hoping that they are doing a piece that will be appreciated. So it’s nice when our “children” go out into the world and are well received.

M(DW): Your art was gathered in a volume, “Transitions”. How was this book received? Do you plan the appearance of other volumes that will gather your artworks?
TL: Transitions was received fairly well, though the publisher entered into financial difficulties and has not been marketing my book at all, and won’t return my queries. It’s frustrating, because there are copies left out there, and people who want them, but I can’t get them to sell them. Bad situation.
I do have more than enough artwork to put together another book of art. I just haven’t had time to pursue it …

M(DW): Your artworks are also presented on different SF and Fantasy conventions. How is the interaction with the viewers and the admirers of your art in these cases? Would you like to have a larger personal art show?
TL: I enjoy the conventions. It’s nice to meet the fans and have interactions with them.

M(DW): I’ve seen on the Internet step-by-step pictorials with the creation of your art pieces. Are you asked often for guidance by new and emerging artists? Would you like to teach an art class to young artists?
TL: I get requests for advice every day! I would like to teach one day. I’m in the process of getting my studio arranged so that I can take on an apprentice, though the time is not right yet.

M(DW): At what are you working right now and what other future projects do you have?
TL: I have several book covers coming up (two for Salvatores, Bob and his son Geno), a personal project or two, and several large conventions to prepare for.

Thank you very much for your amiability and answers. It has been a pleasure.

For complete biography and a more comprehensive portfolio of Todd Lockwood, please visit his website, The Art of Todd Lockwood.

© The artwork presented on this post is used with the permission of its author. All the artwork is copyrighted. Please do not use the images without the permission of the artist or owner.

Friday, March 12, 2010

"Children of the New Disorder" by Tim Lebbon & Lindy Moore

"Children of the New Disorder"
by Tim Lebbon & Lindy Moore
Format: Hardback, 48 pages
Publisher: Creeping Hemlock
The review is based on a bought copy of the book

An age ago, the children stopped coming. The priests' promise of a curative kept the fury and misery at bay, for a time. Then the airships passed over and dropped their antidote. A delighted people drank it up like a mist of ambrosia.
Marooned and hopeless, Chaylie and her family escaped the horrors that followed, only to return to a land plagued by the tragic and the bizarre.
They appear in the night. Deformed. Mewling. Inhuman. And it's Chaylie's job to destroy them in great and blistering heaps. But the living nightmares can only be thrust aside, never defeated. And what if one of them were to survive?

I am not a fan of the limited editions, because they are limited and because of their prices, but I get my little share of this type of books. One of the very few limited editions that found the way to me lately is the novella written together by Tim Lebbon and Lindy Moore, “Children of the New Disorder”.

The story takes place in a world hit by an apocalyptic event, either of the aspects being specific. The world can be very well our own or might be a fantastic one, but this doesn’t have much relevance since the story has the same power despite the setting. The authors only sketch the setting of their novella, without many details, but with enough of elements to create the proper background and atmosphere for the story. On this rough sketch however there are elements that will look very familiar to the reader, scientific experiments for the sake of humanity that can go wrong, the manipulative force of religion or the religious figures, the cruel side of the human nature.

“Children of the New Disorder” has only two characters and it is centered on Chaylie, a survivor of the apocalyptic event. The talent of Tim Lebbon and Lindy Moore is concentrated behind this character, giving him power and strong contour lines, Chaylie giving more force to the story. What is remarkable at Chaylie is that the events in her personal life and her personal experience outcome the apocalyptic event from her perspective. The anxiety, the painful memories and the shock of the present mix together inside Chaylie to create a very strong character in the span of a few pages. Only that her fears and nightmares can have an undesirable result in this novella, for Chaylie and the readers alike.

“Children of the New Disorder” is a very short story, but it is a quick and tightly packed one. Tim Lebbon and Lindy Moore use the available space to build a powerful and disturbing story that doesn’t leave the mind of the reader very soon.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Steven Erikson's "Malazan Book of the Fallen": Joining forces

I mentioned yesterday my unread section of the personal library and I come back today to that section. I have to say that although the titles from that particular section have to wait their reading time they escape the unread shelves eventually. One such title is the first novel in the Steven Erikson’s “Malazan Book of the Fallen” series, “Gardens of the Moon”. I know that for a long time Steven Erikson’s books awaited for me to open their covers, but that time has come. I am half-way through “Gardens of the Moon” and I absolutely love it. I even wonder how did I miss reading the series, especially since until I bought the Malazan books and now I had a few unpleasant reading experiences. It is a slow reading for the moment, with all the characters, places and aspects to take in, but I already find my way around them.

And speaking of the Malazan series, I was talking the other day with two of my online friends, Amanda, the lovely lady behind Floor to Ceiling Books, and Niall, the highlander who makes The Speculative Scotsman running, and we thought of joining our forces for a take on the Steven Erikson’s “Malazan Book of the Fallen” series. We are thinking of reading the entire series, as the time allows us, going through the novellas and Ian C. Esslemont’s novels as well, each with his own opinions and reviews but also joining forces in a series of discussions. We hope to have many other fans of the Malazan series, old and new, joining our party, especially since I know someone who pressed me hard to start the series :)

I hope that everyone will enjoy this feature or maybe it will offer an excuse to start reading Steven Erikson’s books or a re-reading. I know that I am enjoying “Gardens of the Moon” a lot for now and that this novel makes my previous experience with Ian C. Esslemont’s “Night of Knives” and the interview with Steven Erikson even more pleasant.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Cover art - "The Ragged Man" by Tom Lloyd

I have a section in my personal library that I am afraid to look at, because in that section are many books that I didn’t get the chance to read yet. And it seems that the number of the books in that section is not getting smaller. Among the titles that can be found in the unread section are the three novels in the Tom Lloyd’s series, “Twilight Reign”, which although I wanted to read for some time I ended up not doing it. Well, I don’t know if I will be able to start reading Tom Lloyd’s first novel, “The Stormcaller”, until his fourth novel, “The Ragged Man”, will be released this summer, but I am thinking of a plan to read his series this year. Still, I have to say that I enjoy the cover artwork for the UK edition, published by Gollancz in August, of “The Ragged Man” quite a lot. I really like that the book cover of “The Ragged Man” follows the same line as the first three covers, the change being made rather in colors than in pattern. I might be repeating myself, but I really like that the figure from the cover is not clearly drawn, leaving much to the imagination of the reader, and also that the atmosphere of the cover (of the other three too) is a dark one. Although this second part might be due to my attraction for a darker fiction. Like the first three covers this one is made by the same excellent artist, Larry Rostant.
Not that is something wrong with the cover for the US edition of the novel (that I posted below), published by Pyr and illustrated by another great artist, Todd Lockwood.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

2009 Australian Shadows Award nominees

The Australian Horror Writers Association (AHWA) has announced the nominations for the 2009 Australian Shadows Award. The Australian Shadows is an annual award recognizing the works in horror, dark fantasy and paranormal fiction written or edited by an Australian. From 2009 the award has three categories: Long Fiction (novels, novellas and single-author collection), Short Fiction (short stories) and Edited Publications (anthologies and horror magazine issues). The judges for this year's awards were Craig Bezant, Stephanie Gunn, and Chuck McKenzie and the winners will be determined by guest judges Bill Congreve (editor of the Year's Best Australian SF & Fantasy series), James Doig (editor of Australian Gothic), and Martin Livings (author of Carnies). The winners will be announced on April 5th.


- "A Book of Endings" by Deborah Biancotti (Twelfth Planet Press)
- "Red Queen" by H. M. Brown (Penguin Australia)
- "Wives" by Paul Haines ("X6", Coeur de Lion Publishing)
- "The Dead Path" by Stephen M. Irwin (Hachette Australia)
- "Slights" by Kaaron Warren (Angry Robot)


- "Six Suicides" by Deborah Biancotti (A Book of Endings)
- "The Emancipated Dance" by Felicity Dowker (Midnight Echo #2)
- "Busking" by Jason Fischer (Midnight Echo #3)
- "The Message" by Andrew J. McKiernan (Midnight Echo #2)
- "The Gaze Dogs of Nine Waterfalls" by Kaaron Warren (Exotic Gothic 3)


- "Grants Pass" edited by Jennifer Brozek & Amanda Pillar (Morrigan Books)
- "Festive Fear" edited by Stephen Clark (Tasmaniac Publications)
- "Aurealis #42" edited by Stuart Mayne (Chimaera Publications)

Congratulations and good luck to all!

Monday, March 8, 2010

2 questions round - 2009 Bram Stoker Awards nominees

I am always interested in the speculative fiction awards and I like to see how the final ballot list becomes the list of nominations and finally the winners’ list. I was always curious about what means a nomination for a specific award and how can that change an author’s career. Now I have the opportunity to satisfy my curiosity with the help of some of the nominees for the 2009 Bram Stoker Awards, among them a few that were nominated and won the award before. My guests in their alphabetical order are:

Bruce Boston – nominated for the Superior Achievement in Poetry Collection, “Double Visions” and “North Left of Earth”

S.G. Browne – nominated for Superior Achievement in a First Novel, “Breathers”

Mort Castle – nominated for Superior Achievement in Long Fiction, “Dreaming Robot Monster”

Ellen Datlow – nominated for Superior Achievement in Anthology, “Lovecraft Unbound” and “Poe”

Robert Dunbar – nominated for Superior Achievement in Fiction Collection, “Martyrs and Monsters”

Scott Edelman - nominated for Superior Achievement in Long Fiction, “The Huger of Empty Vessels”

Rain Graves - nominated for Superior Achievement in Poetry Collection, “Barfodder”

Nate Kenyon – nominated for Superior Achievement in Short Fiction, “Keeping Watch”

Daniel G. Keohane - nominated for Superior Achievement in a First Novel, “Solomon’s Grave”

Michael Knost – nominated for Superior Achievement in Nonfiction, “Writers Workshop of Horror”

Jonathan Maberry – nominated for Superior Achievement in a Novel, “Patient Zero”

Joe McKinney - nominated for Superior Achievement in a Novel, “Quarantined”

Lisa Morton - nominated for Superior Achievement in Long Fiction, “The Lucid Dreams” & for Superior Achievement in Anthology, “Midnight Walk”

Gene O’Neill - nominated for Superior Achievement in Long Fiction, “Doc Good’s Traveling Show” & for Superior Achievement in Fiction Collection, “A Taste of Tenderloin”

Weston Ochse - nominated for Superior Achievement in Short Fiction, “The Crossing of Aldo Ray”

Harry Shannon - nominated for Superior Achievement in Short Fiction, “The Night Nurse”

Jeremy C. Shipp - nominated for Superior Achievement in a Novel, “Cursed”

Lucy A. Snyder - nominated for Superior Achievement in Poetry Collection, “Chimeric Machines”

LL Soares & Michael Arruda – nominated for Superior Achievement in Nonfiction, “Cinema Knife Fight”

Lee Thomas - nominated for Superior Achievement in Fiction Collection, “In the Closet, Under the Bed”

Paul G. Tremblay - nominated for Superior Achievement in a First Novel, “The Little Sleep”

Bev Vincent - nominated for Superior Achievement in Nonfiction, “The Stephen King Illustrated Companion”

How does it feel to be nominated for the Bram Stoker Award? Is winning the award as important as the nomination?

Bruce Boston: Most writers thrive to some extent on recognition, and I'm no exception. Having my work nominated for a Bram Stoker Award by my fellow writers in the field is always a pleasure and an honor. And winning the award is even a greater pleasure and honor.

SG Browne: Having Breathers nominated for a Bram Stoker Award is exciting and a bit surreal. Kind of like losing your virginity, only without the awkward emotional fallout. And although it might sound cliché and, admittedly, as ridiculous as when everyone else has said the same thing, while winning a Stoker would be a treat, it's an honor just to be nominated.

Mort Castle: As others will likely agree, the nomination is a serious honor because that is the result of the voting of your peers, writing and editing people, people with whom you have this professional affinity; the Stoker is not a fan award.
That said, it stands to reason that winning is still more of an honor.
Certainly it is an honor for an Olympic athlete to earn a slot on his nation's team. I think, however, standing in front of the world audience and having a gold medal placed around your neck would be a still greater honor.

Ellen Datlow: I'm delighted to be nominated for the Stoker Award. Any award nomination is a demonstration of respect and appreciation for what one is doing, in this case, editing anthologies. The winner of any award is remembered for way longer than the nominees so yes, to me winning is as important.

Robert Dunbar: MARTYRS & MONSTERS has gotten overwhelmingly sensational reviews, but it’s always pleasant to have the merits of your work recognized by your colleagues as well.

Scott Edelman: This is my fifth Stoker nomination, and it's been a thrill every time. I'm always honored that my peers consider something I've written worthy of being a finalist. As to the question of whether winning is as important as having been nominated, that's a difficult one to answer. What's most important of all is to use the power of any sign of encouragement from the universe to then go ahead and write the _next_ good story.
One of the wonderful things about being nominated is that until I've lost, I've won! I spend the weeks from the time I've learned my story has made the cut until the name of the winner (which so far hasn't been me) is announced in dreaming that it _could_ be me. So even when I've lost, I've won. I wouldn't trade that delicious period of anticipation for anything.

Rain Graves: I think every writer likes to be recognized in some positive way for having written something as an "achievement" rather than being raked over the coals by reviewers... All writers who get published put themselves out there, regardless of the outcome. Being nominated for the Bram Stoker Award makes you think back to your hard work on the book in question, and in your most insecure moment, remind yourself that your peers (at the very least) liked it enough to nominate it. Being recognized by your peers is sometimes the most satisfying recognition, much like those glowing reviews from highly respected publications.
I don't put great importance on the winning of awards, or even the nomination of such; but it does feel absolutely wonderful to win, and gives you a sense that you're headed in a positive direction for your career as a writer, when nominated. Everyone wants to win something. Even people who say they could care less. Give them an award, and they smile. They may grouse later, of course...but the smile comes first.

Nate Kenyon: I'm always thrilled to be nominated for anything, but a Stoker is something particularly special to me. It's the major award in the horror genre, and it's voted upon by my peers. So I'm both excited and humbled to be on the ballot, this time in the short story category. I think short fiction is actually more difficult to write well than novels for me--so this means a lot.
Of course I would love to win, but it really is an honor just to be nominated. Everyone says this, but it's true.

Daniel G. Keohane: It feels great! To be a successful writer, you need a good self-image - of your writing at least. You have to feel whatever you're working on is worthy of the time you spend on it, otherwise what motivation do we have to continue? However, and this may sound contradictory, most of us also have a poor self-image. "I really liked this book, but no one else will." I know, the topsy-turvy mental process of the writer. Better to be humble than full of yourself, though, and to that end, I was surprised, in a very pleasant way, by the nomination. I've gotten some good reviews for the book, both formal and from direct comments from people, but when enough people within the a professional organization like the HWA vote for Solomon's Grave to put it on the final ballot, its feels really good. It's akin to getting a letter or email from someone you don't know telling you how much they liked a story. Positive feedback is great - we writers never get enough of it (which is why we tend to give it to each other more often than most, we know how much it's appreciated).
When Solomon made the preliminary ballot, I said to myself (and anyone who'd listen, no many, lol), that I'd be thrilled to simply make it to the final ballot - to be "Nominated," officially. Now that it's happened, I am thrilled, and honored, and if by some strange computer error I should win, it would only be icing on the cake. But to make it to this final ballot, see my name and my book's title alongside such incredibly talented writers, is all I could have hoped for. To see any of the others win would be great, because they're all terrific writers and I'd be incredibly happy for them - we're all in the same situation, excited to simply have the recognition of our peers for this brief but fun moment in 2010.

Michael Knost: Being nominated is important to me because it brings a level of acceptance from one’s peers as it pertains to the work. Although winning the award would be nice, I think the nomination is as credible as the winning.

Jonathan Maberry: It’s a wonderful feeling, particularly because the nomination comes from my peers in the horror writing community. I love the genre and respect the writers who continually bring new depth and dimension to horror, so having them take notice of my novel is a thrill.
Sometimes. There are plenty of actors who have been nominated for Academy Awards but haven’t won them. Leonardo Dicaprio, Tom Cruise, Johnny Depp, and Brad Pitt haven’t won a Best Actor Award even though they’ve been nominated. It doesn’t make anyone respect their performance any less. The fact that they were nominated is used in advertising for their new films. Being nominated for a Stoker is a huge honor.
But there is a bit of a career boost that can come from winning. I’ve seen it firsthand from the two Stokers I’ve previously won – for Best First Novel (Ghost Road Blues, Pinnacle Books 2006) and Best Nonfiction (for The Cryptopedia – co-authored by David F. Kramer, Citadel Press, 2007).

Joe McKinney: In a word, GREAT! I've been a part of the HWA for several years now, and it is definitely a wonderful feeling to receive such high praise from my peers. But is the nomination as important as the award itself? No. Susan Lucci could tell us all about that.

Lisa Morton: Of course it's always a pleasure to know that your writing peers have chosen to honor your work with a nomination. Personally, winning is not as important to me.

Gene O’Neill: Of course it feels good to be nominated for any award, especially one determined by one's peers. Like a lot of awards--Oscars?--just making the final ballot is a gratifying achievement and really all one can hope for.

Weston Ochse: It feels awesome to be nominated for the Bram Stoker Award. This is my third nomination and the first in the short story category. I won for Best First Novel in 2005, then last year was nominated for Long Fiction Category. I was honestly more nervous last year than I was in 2005. I never thought the book would win and wasn't even at the ceremony. Last year I was in Burbank for the awards and as nervous as a kitten in a firecracker store. This year will be the same. I'm traveling to England just to see what happens.

Harry Shannon: I really enjoy hearing from readers who like my novels and stories, but that feels a little sweeter when the approval comes from your peers. Hell, I'd really love to have one of those cool little haunted house trophies for my desk, but have to admit it feels neat just to be in such good company.

Jeremy C. Shipp: I feel exceedingly excited and greatly grateful to be nominated. As a writer, clichés are my enemy, but I still want to say: even if I don’t win the award, I’ll feel just as honored to be nominated.

Lucy A. Snyder: It feels wonderful to be nominated for a Bram Stoker Award because it represents recognition from my writing peers. Having said that, the thrill of actually winning the award would far outstrip the excitement of receiving the nomination.

LL Soares: It feels great to be nominated for the Bram Stoker Award, especially since I never thought we had a chance. Compared to some of the other works in our category (Non-Fiction), Cinema Knife Fight is just a little horror movie review column. Who knew we’d make it to the final ballot and compete with books about Stephen King!
It’s very exciting to be nominated. As for winning, I think we’re a real long shot, but hey, anything is possible. Of course we’d be ecstatic if we won, but we have to be realistic of our chances. If we win, it will be a big, wonderful surprise. But at this point, just being nominated - and getting this far - is pretty exciting on its own.

Michael Arruda: And strangely, I agree with everything LL said here. Like anything, you take it for what it is. Being nominated for a Stoker is wonderfully rewarding, and winning it would be that much better, but at the end of the day, you still have to write and write well. That’s what we intend to keep doing, win or lose.

Lee Thomas: It's always a thrill to be honored by your peers. The fact that a group of people have come together and agreed that your work represents a superior achievement in the field is just amazing. Once the finalists have been named, though, it becomes an issue of apples and oranges, because no two collections are doing the exact same things in the exact same ways. By definition, winning the award is a greater accomplishment, but I'm more than satisfied with a nomination.

Paul G. Tremblay: It's certainly an honor to receive kudos from other writers, particularly with The Little Sleep which isn't horror in the traditional sense, but was dark enough to be considered/recognized. Winning would be great, of course, and I'd raise my haunted house statue over the fallen and smoten (yes, smoten!) nominees. But being nominated is the real honor, right?

Bev Vincent: It always feels great when something I worked hard on is recognized by the community. The Stephen King Illustrated Companion is up for an Edgar (Mystery Writers of America) and a Bram Stoker Award this year, and I plan to go to both ceremonies and simply enjoy myself. Winning would be nice, but I think the nomination brings more concentrated attention to the works under consideration than winning the award does. During the interim between the announcement of nominations and the selection of the winners, there is a lot of discussion about the merits of the works. Then the winner is announced, and there is the presentation and press releases and photographs in magazines--then it's all over, for the most part. That's not to minimize winning -- I would be lying if I said I wouldn't be proud to have one of those beautiful trophies sitting on the mantelpiece -- but the nomination itself is gratifying and rewarding. You don't come away from the process feeling like you've lost if you don't win the award.

Can a nomination for an award such as the Bram Stoker Award change an author's career? Does this nomination set a higher standard for your works?

Bruce Boston: Yes, I think a nomination can change an author's career. I haven't noticed any great changes for a nomination for a poetry collection, but when my novel The Guardener's Tale was nominated in 2008, sales immediately took off and a Spanish publisher, as a direct result of the nomination, contacted me and subsequently bought the book for translation and publication in Spain.
As far as setting a higher standard for one's writing, I think it may do so with regard to readers' expectations, and it no doubt carries some weight with potential publishers, but I don't feel that being nominated or winning the Stoker has changed my writing. However, it has generated my own enthusiasm to write and publish more.

SG Browne: I don't have enough long-term insights to comment on the career-changing effects of a Stoker nomination, but it can definitely create an increased awareness for an author's work and open up additional opportunities. As for setting a higher standard for my own work, I like to think the standard was already there.

Mort Castle: I don't know. I don't know if anyone else knows, either. I can see, however, that everyone who has won a Stoker award (and I've not had that pleasure, though this is my seventh nomination) has had that mentioned on book covers, in bio material, etc. And I do know that my recognition has been applauded by my colleagues in the Fiction Writing Department of Columbia College.
No. Around 1985, with the encouragement of a number of people I consider Artists (and I deliberately use an uppercase A!), I set out to sometimes not just create "horror entertainments" but to make ... Art.
Recognition that I might be doing so does help to keep on keeping on in my "craft and sullen art."

Ellen Datlow: I think that a nomination is more helpful to new writers/editors starting out than those already established. The nomination of an unknown can influence readers outside the field to read his work. But I doubt very much that it changes an author or editor's career markedly. Very few awards do. However, a short story nomination might bring an author's work to the attention of an agent, which in turn could help her sell a first novel.
I'm always a little nervous when my next anthology is published--it doesn't matter whether I've won or been nominated for an award for the previous anthology.
I have no idea what the market expects but I sure hope each book has increased sales. I edit so many different kinds of anthologies: theme, non-theme, all or mostly original, all reprint, sf/f/h that I hope the market/that is, readers, just eagerly await what I'm producing next.

Robert Dunbar: Come on – this isn’t the Pulitzer we’re talking about. Does it set a higher standard for my work? Are you kidding? My standards couldn’t be any higher, but that has to do with my own passion, my own commitment. It has nothing to do with what the critics say or whether I win prizes. You do what you do. Sometimes accolades follow. Sometimes not. Doesn’t matter. An artist mustn’t be influenced by such concerns. On the other hand, yes, it can benefit your career … because editors and agents don’t really have a clue when it comes to literature. But awards? Ah! That they understand. Bit depressing really.

Scott Edelman: Being nominated sets the bar higher only in the same way I think _every_ story one writes sets the bar higher. You always hope your next piece will be even better than your previous one. So once nominated, you do hope to create something worthy of such a nod again.
As to whether a win can change a writer's career that has to be broken into the inward change vs., the outward change, that is, the marketplace. In the marketplace, a writer needs every possible leg up, so for a novelist to be able to put STOKER AWARD WINNER on a book cover might attract a browser's attention in a bookstore. But it's that inward change that matters more. Having not won a Stoker, I'm only speculating here, but I believe there's got to be that feeling in the mind of a winner, "Let me be worthy of this."
If I keep at this long enough, maybe I'll get to find out for myself someday.

Rain Graves: I don't believe it changes an author's career, but it certainly doesn't hurt it. Awards in general are that strange anomaly that when placed on paper, seem to stand out like a sore thumb when someone who has the power to say yes or no to your work (Agents, Publishers, Readers, and Reviewers), see something of merit when they've never heard of you. It by no means helps them make a decision--only your body of work can do that--but it does give them a familiarity they might not otherwise have, in the knowledge that someone, somewhere along the line, loved it enough to give it an award.
S. G. Browne, I think, put it very well to me once. To paraphrase, he said there are people out there who have a dream as a writer, and that dream is to win the Bram Stoker Award, or the Hugo, or the Nebula...for recognition in their field. To win for them, is the single most confirmation that they've done something amazing as a writer. For me...the higher standard is not at all a dream to be given an award. The higher standard is to always become a better writer--through reading, expanding the imagination, writing, and putting myself out there to better my work.
For me, the nomination is just as literal as it is intended to be--a jury of my peers (in this case, active HWA members--and I am not a member of the HWA) that deem collectively that this work merits recognition by them as "good." If it wins, it becomes the "best" of that category--but by no means is it singularly better than anything on the ballot in my opinion, or for that matter, any other work of poetry I ever thought was amazing. It just means they liked it best, and felt it deserved that recognition. For the nomination, I am honored to know that my peers thought it had that merit, and should be considered. It's a good feeling to have. Wonderful, even.
As an aside--I truly believe in the Poetry Category for the Stokers, it has given new light to an emerging mainstay in the genre. 10 years ago virtually no one could list five titles of dark genre poetry that were written today (ie: not classics), nor could they say they had read or wanted to read any. The Bram Stoker Award for Outstanding Achievement in the Poetry Category has changed how people look at genre poetry, and gotten more people reading it than ever through its recognition. For that alone, this is a very important award. Anyone not knowing where to begin in genre poetry, has only to look back over the past years the HWA has been doing the award for poetry to get a list of titles worth reading and enjoying. It has opened a lot of minds, and paved the way for new poets to be published and recognized for dark genre poetry.

Nate Kenyon: I'm not sure whether it can change a career. It certainly gets you noticed within the genre, but I don't think it extends much beyond that. Ultimately things like landing contracts and increasing sales are about the books themselves--if the work is good enough, it'll do well. An award nomination--even an award win--probably isn't going to change that.

Daniel G. Keohane: To answer the first, it sure can't hurt! :-) I think it can only help. I mean, all of the writers on the current ballot can now, even if we don't ultimately win, legitimately put "Nominated for the Bram Stoker Award" on our book covers or websites, etc, and "Bram Stoker Nominated Author" on any future covers. It's something to hold up to a potential reader and say, "Hey, enough people thought the book you're currently holding in your hands was worthy of taking a second look at." They may still hate it, or put it back on the shelf and grab another, but at least it's a yellow umbrella in a sea of black, which is all we, as authors, can ask for. Sorry for the bad metaphor, but it's raining outside.
As to whether it sets a higher standard - no, don't think so. Because every book, every story we write and publish should already be at the highest standard we can offer. We should improve every time, no question - the books I've written since first penning Solomon's Grave, in my opinion at least, are better than the ones that came before in some aspect. I don't feel any pressure from this nomination, because I'm my toughest critic already - I don't need any more pressure, lol. But right now, just seeing my name on the ballot beside Paul, Hank and Scott is enough to make me smile and appreciate this moment of recognition. Soon enough I'll need to shrug it off and get back to writing, and remember the sage advice of Han Solo: "Don't get cocky, kid!"

Michael Knost: I'm not sure a nomination, or the winning of the award, could change an author's career. The one thing it does, I'm sure, is place the author in a new light. The name brand may have more credibility for an up-an-comer looking for an agent or publisher. Maybe not so much for the well established author/editor, however, it would certainly be an affirmation to these folks that they are continuing to produce works their peers find exceptional.

Jonathan Maberry: Absolutely. We’ve seen it time and again. It’s impossible for readers, editors and reviewers to read EVERYTHING that’s out there; and it’s often hard to know where to look for those writers who may be writing some of the best stuff. Award nominations draw attention to notable works by notable writers. That attracts readers, it encourages reviewers to take them more seriously, and it can open up more opportunities for the writer when it comes to future projects.
Sure. If you’ve been nominated for one work, everyone is going to expect you to write at or above that level of quality. And you damn well should. It can intimidate some folks, but most of the nominees I’ve known (for the Stokers, Edgars, Spike, Emmies, Nebula, etc.) take it as a mandate to consistently bring their A-game.

Joe McKinney: Well, the Stoker award generates a lot of attention, and attention for a writer is generally a good thing. So, yeah, I'd say the nomination can have some impact on a writer's career. How much I couldn't say, but certainly some. But as for setting a higher standard? No, I wouldn't say that's the case. Every writer out there was doing this gig for free before it became a business. With all the time and energy put into the process of writing, it just doesn't make sense to put something out I'm not happy with. In the end, the only person I write for is me, and I always insist on a high personal standard.

Lisa Morton: The nomination may help in a few small ways; if nothing else, it should tell editors that you know what you're doing and your work will be operating at a high level of professionalism. I think it also helps in things like approaching agents, where an award can be used as that all-important "platform" that an agent will need to help sell your work to publishers. And I would hope that it wouldn't be a nomination that would set a higher standard - I try to do that on my own with everything I write!

Gene O’Neill: The nomination can have a slight effect on your career. Help get an agent. Allow publishers to put Stoker Winner on the cover of your books. Sell a few more books based on the win. But I don't think it causes me to set a higher standard in my work. I'm a slow writer, going through large numbers of revisions before I'm satisfied. That won't change.

Weston Ochse: I don't think the nomination, nor the winning of the award can change a career. What it does is provides some fuel in those long dark hours of the soul when you're writing and you don't think your stuff is any good. When the doubts are the strongest, it helps to fend them off with the fact that peers and fans alike have taken, not only the time to read your work, but to recommend them for an award. Now that's something very cool.

Harry Shannon: I don't think these awards have much impact on our careers overall. Some publishers find value in them, but doubt many book buyers will make their decision based on a Stoker nomination, or even a win. Readers know an author's name, and/or like the description on the book and the cover art. After that, perhaps seeing that a work was recognized by other authors could be the icing on the cake.

Jeremy C. Shipp: The nomination has certainly helped get my name out there and connect with new readers. I’ve also received numerous offers for interviews and writing projects. The nomination doesn’t change anything in terms of standards. I’ve always forced myself to write the best stories I can, and I’ll continue to do so, forever. Even when I’m a friendly ghost, haunting an old Victorian farmhouse, scribbling on the walls with my ectoplasmic pen.

Lucy A. Snyder: A nomination is certainly helpful to an author's career -- for instance, I've recently received some invitations to submit works for anthologies, and those invitations seem to have been the result of the editors seeing my name on the Stoker nomination list.
However, since in my case it's my poetry collection that's been nominated, there's a limited amount of cross-over into how my fiction will be perceived. The overall career benefit of the nomination would be greater if it were a nomination for a story collection or novel. Poetry tends not to sell very well no matter what; ironically I've seen sales of my small-press story collections increase a bit after the Stoker final ballot was announced, but not sales of the actual award-nominated collection.

LL Soares: Frankly, I have no idea if winning the Stoker Award can change an author’s career. But I would sure love to find out! If anything, it adds a level of prestige to your writing that shows that people are more aware of you, and maybe they’d be a little more likely to seek out more of your work.
As for higher standards, I think Michael and I both reach for high standards, with the Cinema Knife Fight column, and in our own fiction, all the time. Why even bother, if you’re not going to strive to put out the best work you can? If anything, being nominated for the Stoker just makes us focus more on continuing to write the best work we can.

Michael Arruda: Does winning the Stoker change an author’s career? I don’t know. But if we win, ask us next year, and we’ll let you know.

Lee Thomas: Generally an award nomination, even a win, won't change the author's career in a major way - unless we're talking Nobel or Pulitzer. I think it gives the author a bit of an edge-up in that they can list an accomplishment in their bio that sets them apart, but each work has to speak for itself, so the "glow" of the award recognition only reaches so far. This is my fourth nomination (and I have won the award in the "First Novel" category), but editors don't suddenly appear screaming for my work. I still submit stories like anyone else and still receive... gasp... rejections. Ha! I think the writer should always be looking to improve, but that shouldn't have anything to do with awards. I try to set a higher standard each time I sit down to write a story. Sometimes I succeed. Other times... not so much. But it never has anything to do with what I've already accomplished or what I might win for writing well.

Paul G. Tremblay: I don't think the nomination can really change an author's career, but it doesn't hurt. My editor and agent were both pleased with the news.
Does the nomination set a higher standard because of the nomination? Not. I'm my own worst critic most days and it's hard enough to satisfy that SOB, never mind worrying about what award may or may not choose to recognize my work. The goal (or at least, my goal) is to continually grow as a writer and just write the best novel/story that I possibly can.

Bev Vincent: I'm sure in some cases an award nomination can have a demonstrably positive effect on an author's career. I was nominated in 2004 for a Stoker for my first book, The Road to the Dark Tower. I can't say that the nomination exactly changed my career, but the success of that earlier book led directly to the opportunity to write the new one. The publisher contacted me, asking if I would be willing to write The Stephen King Illustrated Companion, instead of the other way around. The previous nomination may have influenced that decision. The truth is, though, that we never know for sure. We don't generally have access to weekly/monthly sales figures, so it's hard to tell if a nomination leads to an increase in sales, for example. Does mentioning an award nomination in a cover letter make an editor any more likely to consider your work for publication? It might bump a submission closer to the top of the slush pile in some cases, but ultimately (as they say in the investment community) past performance may not be an indicator of future earnings. In other words, you can't ride the reputation of a previous success very long. Each new work has to stand on its own merits. And I think that we set higher standards for our works each time we start something new. We're constantly striving to do better. An award nomination is one of the ways others tell us when we're succeeding in that quest.

Thank you all very much for your time and answers.