Daniel I. Russell is the author of Entertaining Demons, Samhane, Retard, Come Into Darkness, Critique, The Collector Book 1: Mana Leak, Mother's Boys and the huge collection Tricks, Mischief and Mayhem. Daniel is a HWA active member and represented by the Tobias Literary Agency, NYC. Daniel has also been the vice-president of the Australian Horror Writers' Association, special guest editor of Midnight Echo, associate and technical editor for Necrotic Tissue, and Shadow Awards judge.
On being a Shadows Award finalist
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Saturday, April 13, 2013I won at the Australian Shadows Awards!
Yes, I'm using that meme I generated again. I like it, so what the hell.
Last night, I was poised at the computer screen (I say poised, I mean running backwards and forwards to the kitchen as I was cooking for the kids), beer in my hand, enjoying the announcement of the Australian Shadows Awards. of which I had a stake in the long fiction category.
I'm happy to say that I won.
What's that, Dan? Check the facts? Kaaron Warren won? Even Sean Bean says so?
That's right. Kaaron took the trophy home, along with a win in the collection category. Fellow West Australians Martin Livings took the short story award and Craig Bezant bagged the edited work (go team WA!). Kirstyn McDermott walked away with the award for best novel.
So what did I win...exactly?
Indulge me for a moment. Let's look back at my first novel, Samhane.
Samhane was my first blast at a novel. I wanted it to be a fun, grisly ghost train ride, and it ticked all my boxes at the time. Now the book holds some great memories for me, had me cut my teeth in the business and I hold the novel very close to my heart.
Did it win any awards that year? No. Not a sausage. Was I outraged? Yes. Did I feel my hard work required more recognition? Certainly.
In hindsight, the book didn't stand a chance. It was written at age 24, was all about car chases and torture scenes and weird imagery. The book, while entertaining I feel, just simply didn't do enough.
Now I'm older and wiser. You ever run at school? You ever finish a race and regardless of place, know - just know - that you'd pushed yourself?
That was how I felt when writing Critique.
Samhane had the usual obstacles any novel contains: the motivation, the desire to push forwards, keeping track of events, character development, pace, etc. Critique was more. It needed to be carefully thought out. It had to say something. It had to come from the heart and not the trousers.
When Samhane was released, years had passed, and I'd developed as a writer. When no awards arrived, my thought was 'look at my quality! Why shouldn't my novel get consideration?'. A gulf existed between the writer I was then and the writer I was at 24.
Am I straying? Yes. I do that. So what did I win at the Shadows? I think I won the best piece of advice ever. I should have it engraved and mounted across the top of my monitor...
I dug deep with Critique. It made the last three with Kaaron Warren and Robert Hood, two writers I hold in very high regard. Did it win? No. Do I want to win? Of course. So here comes what I won. Just two very simple words:
I know what it takes to get this far. If I want to go the next step, I have to raise my game again. It's that straight forward.
To the other finalists and those that had works considered by the judges, hell, even you, winners, you think you sent your best in? I'd like to think no. Let's send our best in next year, and the year after, and the year after that! Hit those keys, spill your blood and tears and souls and bring your A game.We'll see this year as a warm up. ;-)
I'd like to take this opportunity to thank one man in particular. Robert Datson. This guy is the Shadows Award director and did a fantastic job this year. I have the utmost respect for all the work he did and the two fun filled evenings over the last month which he ran. Well done, Robert! If anyone deserved an award, it was you.
To quote Martin Livings, "Next year..."