On the Gemmell Awards

Everything ends.

Over the last decade, the David Gemmell Awards For Fantasy have honoured the best in fantasy fiction and artwork as chosen by the readers. With a roll of honour taking in current genre luminaries such as John Gwynne, Robin Hobb, Mark Lawrence, Peter Newman, Brandon Sanderson, Andrezj Sapkowski, Brent Weeks and many more, with all of these winners chosen by a public vote, the awards have brought focus to some of the most exciting books, authors and artists in recent times.

Unfortunately, after ten years, the Gemmell Awards will draw to a close with immediate effect. With a lack of suitable volunteers to take on current committee roles, and insufficient manpower to deliver the wide range of tasks involved, the present team has been left with no choice but to wind up the awards.

The remaining members of the team would like to thank everyone who has supported the awards, including the publishers that have worked with us, our past committee members and volunteers, all the authors and artists who have offered their support, the events and venues who have hosted our ceremonies, everyone who has ever voted on the awards over the last decade and all the fans who have helped share and spread the word on the awards.

Departing Gemmell Awards Chair Stan Nicholls said: ‘This is a decision that has not been taken lightly, and indeed is one that myself and my committee members make with a heavy heart. It was always important to us to do things to a high standard, and in the current situation I don’t think that we could deliver something befitting the reputation the Gemmell Awards has. I hope that the awards will be remembered for the good work they have done in supporting and championing the cause of fantasy fiction over the last ten years, and that we’ve left a legacy behind that people can look at fondly in years to come.’

From a personal point of view, I would like to celebrate the work Stan, Anne Nicholls, Alex Davis, and the rest of the DGLA team have undertaken to bring so much brilliant fantasy to the attention of so many people across the world. As a tribute to David Gemmell’s legacy, the Awards can stand as proud as Dros Delnoch itself. And, like Druss the Legend, the character whose axe Snaga inspired the shape of the original award, the DGLA will surely inspire others to follow in their footsteps.

Everything ends… but not while we remember it.

Geeks, freaks and wordcounts

If you’ve been following the Twitter feed over on the right at all, you might have seen an occasional wordcount update. HKV (MC2) is born, and even now has risen to the heady length of 18000 words. Given that my first draft target this time around is 120k, that’s an amazing 15% covered already. Whether this 15% is any good or not, only time will tell.

Meanwhile, the first pass through the finished first draft MSS of MC1 has turned up a few provisional problems – not least of which is the pace of the thing. In some respects the end of the book is blink-and-you-miss-it. A bit like going along Gleadless Road and realising at the last moment that you’ve just hit the 1-in-6 downhill without brakes. Not good. Add this to the tweaks and name changes I’ve already identified, and there’s a fair amount of work to do.

And, back in the allegedly real world, we gear up for the release of This Year’s Biggest Blu-Ray (TM). By not having an official plot. That’s right, while we can create graphics and scale-outs at the drop of a hat for any number of dead singers, the actual planned release of something that creates footfall instore gets turned into a Blue Peter exercise. I wonder if that’s anything to do with it having the whiff of genre and thus being uncool – for some reason it appears to be cooler to go through Bob Dylan’s bins than it is to admit to liking Star Wars and SFF.

The conversation went something like this:
Management: “The RM wants us to attract all the freaks and weirdos into the store. People in costumes. Make it an event. You know where these people are.”
“Thanks. I’m a writer, not a freak. Weirdos are people who still think the Beatles are relevant.”

So, instead of a company-wide, top-down driven official effort in bring customers into store, we have to rely on Star Wars fans. In some respects that isn’t a bad thing – people like Matt Ferguson, who has created these prints as competition prizes for the HMV store in Sheffield City Centre, are extremely talented artists and designers. Hell, Mark Ruffalo loves his work so much he asked for a print of the Hulk. And the SFF fans actually outnumber the trend-of-the-week dilettantes in our shop. It’s disappointing, however, that the company can’t – or maybe won’t – get on board.

I won’t rant on too much more, but when was the last time you saw such dedication and skill deployed for Oasis? Or the Libertines? Or any number of identikit Talking Heads rip-off merchants masquerading as the Next Big Thing in ridiculous carrot trews and loafers with no socks? The “freaks and weirdos” are the ones with the talent, see. The ones doing something different.

Looking for the next big thing
Looking for the next big thing