So, it was the BFS Open night in London on Friday, during which the final nominees for the 2014 British Fantasy Awards were announced, and I was overjoyed to discover that my story, Signs of the Times (Black Static #33), had made it into the Short Story category. It's up against some pretty stiff competition, and I don't expect to win, but just making any kind of shortlist, never mind this one, is absolutely huge for me.
I remember going to my first ever FantasyCon back in 2009. I'd only sold a few stories by that point, and dragged my poor sister along because I was a nervous wreck. But it was brilliant. Everyone was wonderful; there was none of the sometimes uncomfortable subtext that I've since experienced at other cons. It was friendly, relaxed, inclusive, and I immediately felt like I belonged. I sat next to Ramsey Campbell at the signing of an anthology that we had both contributed stories to (although I was completely mute; he probably thought I was a right berk); I met people that weekend whom I can now proudly call friends; I learned more about what it was to be a writer, and the importance of being part of a community of, if not always same-minded, then certainly similarly-minded people, than I ever had anywhere else. I remember thinking, yes, this is it, this is my gang. And I can’t tell you what a relief that was. I can still remember that feeling now.
And I also sat at a table at the BFS Awards banquet on Saturday night, drinking horrible warm wine and eating horrible cold food, and I watched writers like Graham Joyce, Tim Lebbon, Sarah Pinborough, Allyson Bird, and Joseph D’Lacey win their awards and give their speeches, and instead of feeling envious or inadequate, I felt only inspired. I never again felt like any of it was beyond my reach, which was far and away the greatest gift that that weekend gave me.
Being nominated for a BFA feels the same as that first FCon. Like I’m part of a gang; that I’m good enough to be considered part of it. I’m sure that many writers don’t give a shit about awards, or best of anthos, or peer validation, but I’m also pretty sure that there are far fewer of them than they’d like us to think. It’s important. Perhaps it’s even vital. It is for me. And you can call that timidity, or insecurity, or that need to belong that I’m always banging on about, but none of that takes away from how good it feels. How great it feels. Nearly - nearly - regardless of who actually wins. ☺
British Fantasy Awards 2014: The Nominees