Wednesday, November 28, 2007

New Awards, New Names

When Spinetingler Magazine editor Sandra Ruttan announced in August the creation of the Spinetingler Awards, we wondered whether this genre needed yet another set of annual honors. Between the Anthonys, the Edgars, the Macavitys, the Barrys, the Shamuses and the rest, aren’t all the bases pretty well covered? Well, apparently not. While the shortlist of nominees for the first annual Spinetingler Awards includes some familiar names, it also points readers to a number of new wordsmiths, especially in the short fiction category. Here are the nominees:

Best Novel: Legend
Cross, by Ken Bruen; Priest, by Ken Bruen; The Tin Roof Blowdown, by James Lee Burke; What the Dead Know, by Laura Lippman; The Naming of the Dead, by Ian Rankin; and Dust Devils, by James Reasoner

Best Novel: Rising Star
The Cleanup, by Sean Doolittle; The Shotgun Rule, by Charlie Huston; The Ragtime Kid, by Larry Karp; A Perfect Grave, by Rick Mofina; A Thousand Bones, by P.J. Parrish; and Concrete Maze, by Steven Torres

Best Novel: New Voice
Queenpin, by Megan Abbott; The Big O, by Declan Burke; Hard Man, by Allan Guthrie; The 50/50 Killer, by Steve Mosby; Safe and Sound, by J.D. Rhoades; and The Blonde, by Duane Swierczynski

Best Publisher
Bitter Lemon Press; Europa Editions; Hard Case Crime; Poisoned Pen Press; and Text Publishing

Best Editor
Charles Ardai, Hard Case Crime; Stacia Decker, Harcourt; Alison Janssen, Bleak House; Barbara Peters, Poisoned Pen Press; and Dave Thompson, Busted Flush

Special Services to the Industry
Daniel Hatadi of Crimespace; Ali Karim of Shots and The Rap Sheet; Graham Powell of CrimeSpot; J. Kingston Pierce of The Rap Sheet; Maddy Van Hertburger of 4MA; and Sarah Weinman from Confessions of an Idiosyncratic Mind

Best Short Story on the Web
The Leap,” by Charles Ardai (Hardluck Stories); “Breaking in the New Guy,” by Stephen Blackmoore (Demolition); “Amphetamine Logic,” by Nathan Cain (ThugLit); “The Switch,” by Lyman Feero (ThugLit); “Seven Days of Rain,” by Chris F. Holm (Demolition); “Shared Losses,” by Gerri Leen (Shred of Evidence); “The Living Dead,” by Amra Pajalic (Spinetingler); and “Convivium,” by Kelli Stanley (Hardluck Stories)

There’s also a Best Cover category, but you’ll have to go here to see and judge those images for yourself.

It is a pretty fine list, though I’m a bit stunned to find my own name on it. (I voted for my colleague Ali Karim in the Special Services category.) And it’s good to see more mid-tier novelists in the mix.

Out of curiosity, and since the general reading public had chosen the contenders in each category, I asked Ruttan to gauge the response to this first selections process. “I received a few hundred nominations,” she explained via e-mail. “Somewhere in the two-to-three hundred range. After a while you start to lose track. And some made nominations in all eight categories, some only nominated in a few categories, and some only sent one nomination in one category, so after a while you’re just adding to the count here and there, deleting the e-mail and moving on. And I suspect the timeframe made it tough for people, although for the most part all the nominations that came in had the authors and their books in the right category. Frankly, I’m thrilled to see the strength of the New Voice and Rising Star categories. There are also contenders on there new to me, that I’ll be reading for the first time, and I look forward to that. (And I’m excited to see Text Publishing on the list, praised for what they’ve contributed to Australian fiction with the likes of Peter Temple, because they’ve just signed Amra Pajalic--another author we’ve published in Spinetingler.)”

So, what’s the next step in the process of selecting Spinetingler Award winners? Ruttan spells out the rules at Crime Zine Report:
Voting is open. ONE E-MAIL PER PERSON ONLY. You cannot send another vote in, even for a different category--multiple votes from the same sender will not be counted. Take the time to consider your votes carefully. E-mails must be received by December 30, 2007--authors, if you're putting this in your newsletter make sure you are clear about the deadline for voting. Many recommendations were not considered in the first round because they were sent late.

You may vote for one winner in each category as long as all votes are submitted in one e-mail. Simply state the category and your chosen winner for each of the eight categories. Any votes that contain more than one selection per category may be removed from consideration completely. No ties.

Send your e-mail to with AWARD NOMINATIONS in the subject line. It is not necessary to explain the reason for your vote.

Popular vote will be counterbalanced against editorial opinion at this stage, except for the short story category. In order to ensure fairness the short story category will be determined strictly by popular vote. While I also appreciate the people who nominated me for special services, I removed myself from consideration for that category as well as from the New Voice category.
Winners should be announced early in 2008.

1 comment:

Sandra Ruttan said...

My main hesitation in having an award was the risk of simple repetition, and also that the award pool would be so diluted it would be meaningless.

However, most of the awards won't consider short stories published online, and when you have writers such as Charles Ardai amongst the bunch it does leave you scratching your head. Many of the short stories I read were as good as - and sometimes much better - than stories I've read published in magazines and anthologies.

I also think many promising newer authors are overlooked for the major awards because of stiff competition from the established authors. We'll never all have agreement on an awards list, but recognition for authors early in their career can be critical to their survival in an increasingly tough marketplace. I'm glad (tricky as it was) that I tried the three categories.