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My brain is trying so hard to process this list. It tried stammering, then it tried Jersey-style profanity (Holy #%&*!), and now it’s playing the Talking Heads’ “Once in a Lifetime.” Here comes the voice of David Byrne again: You may say to yourself, Well, how did I get here?

Here’s the ballot in my award category:

Mythopoeic Fantasy Award for Adult Literature

Sarah Avery, Tales from Rugosa Coven (Dark Quest)
Stephanie Feldman, The Angel of Losses (Ecco)
Theodora Goss, Songs for Ophelia (Papaveria Press)
Joanne M. Harris, The Gospel of Loki (Gollancz)
Joe Hill and Gabriel Rodriguez, Locke & Key series, consisting of Vol. 1: Welcome to Lovecraft; Vol. 2: Head Games; Vol. 3: Crown of Shadow; Vol.4: Keys to the Kingdom; Vol. 5: Clockworks; and Vol. 6: Alpha & Omega IDW Publishing

Okay, to break it down for anybody who doesn’t read fantasy (and if you don’t, you’re in good company, along with my mom, so that’s totally fine), here’s why these other finalists are blowing my mind:

Joe Hill is massively famous, with multiple New York Times bestsellers to his name. (People usually also mention that his father is Stephen King, which is why he publishes under a pen name and kept his other identity secret for as long as he could.)

Theodora Goss is the perfect author for the Mythopoeic Fantasy Award. When I saw her name on the announcement, my first thought was, This can’t be her first nomination. Surely she won for In the Forest of Forgetting? She didn’t win in 2008, but only because that was the year Catherynne Valente won for Orphan’s Tales.

I’m not familiar with Stephanie Feldman or Joanne M. Harris, but their publishers are Ecco and Gollancz. I’ve been assuming all these years that my manuscripts were not worthy to lick the crumbs from under the tables of Ecco and Gollancz — that despite the fancy doctorate and whatever other fancy stuff can be ascribed to me, I’m not fancy enough for presses that prestigious. Once I decided I’d rather be entertaining than academic, I figured prestige was not something I should aim at anymore. Maybe that was the typical writerly impostor-syndrome voice talking.

(Or, mutters the impostor-syndrome voice, maybe you really don’t deserve the nomination. Maybe you were right to be shocked, and you don’t belong on this list after all. Nasty little imp, that voice is. Hey, imp, find something helpful to do, or prepare to be ignored.)

Oh, and I have a partial answer to the Talking Heads’ question — I know a little more this hour about how I got here. Thanks are due to Pauline Alama, who’s part of my old critique group, the Writers of the Weird. She’s a longtime member of the Mythopoeic Society and nominated my book for the initial longlist. An award committee culled the longlist down to five finalists. Maybe I’ll get to find out more later about their process. Presumably it involved reading my book and finding it somehow preferable to a bunch of other books. Books that also had advocates (other than their authors and publishers) who liked them enough to nominate them for the longlist.

This is the point at which my mind starts boggling again. Somehow I got preferred for something over an unknown number of authors that probably included at least a few major names who were publishing with major presses. (The imp tries to prepare me for the possibility that this is all a clerical error and I’ll have to post a retraction. Bleeping imp.) Looks like it’ll be a bogglesome week.

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