July 3rd, 2006


The IHG Hubbub

If you write or read horror, you've probably already heard how the International Horror Guild Award nominations for books published in 2005 went the "No Award" route in the Anthology category. There was some mild grumbling in the corners of the internet about it, perhaps some crabby and/or understandably incredulous posts on message boards here and there. I can understand some of that. After all, it came as a bit of a shock.

Then someone, I don't know who, drafted this angry letter to the IHG and started sending it around for signatures:


For a year that produced such new and notable anthologies as Adventure #1; All Hell Breaking Loose; Assembly of Rogues; Bernie Herrmann’s Manic Sextet; The Big Book of Erotic Ghost Stories; Blackest Death II; Blood Surrender; Cold Flesh; Corpse Blossoms; Dark Delicacies; Darkness Rising 2005; Dark Notes from NJ; Don’t Turn Out the Light; Horror Between the Sheets; Ghosts at the Coast; Horrors Beyond; In the Shadow of Evil; Late Victorian Gothic Tales; Lost on the Darkside; The Mammoth Book of Best New Horror #16; Nemo Book 5; Noisy Outlaws, Unfriendly Blobs, and Some Other Things That Aren’t as Scary, Maybe . . .; Outsiders; Phantoms at the Phil; Poe’s Progeny; Polyphony #5; Revenant; Taverns of the Dead; Tales Out of Dunwich; Tempting Disaster; TEL: Stories; Transgressions; The Year’s Best Fantasy and Horror #18; Supernatural Tales #9; Weird Shadows over Innsmouth and many others, we, the undersigned, find it both inexplicable and insulting to those editors, writers and publishers working in the field that the judges of the International Horror Guild Award were this year apparently unable to come to a decision in regard to simply nominating any new anthologies first published in the year 2005.

This does not seem to have been a problem for any other major awards in the genre. An eventual “No Award” decision would have been the prerogative of the judges, but it can only be concluded that this year they were unable to recognize the individual merits of these or any other anthologies, and to at least nominate a minimum of three titles. As a result, in our opinion, they have brought into question the entire value of the IHG Award and its standing in our community.

Quite a few people signed it, including writers I admire both professionally and personally. That's their prerogative, and as I said above, part of me can understand why. However, despite the fact that I think there were a number of worthy anthologies published last year, I will not be signing it, for two big reasons.

The first and most important reason is that I'm of the opinion that the letter sounds whiny and spoiled, and as such it's not something I want my name attached to. I don't like the intimation that the IHG should have just nominated any three anthologies for the award rather than none. That's slot-filling for the sake of saving face, not honoring quality products. Furthermore, to say the lack of award was "insulting to those editors, writers and publishers working in the field" presents us all as hysterical, overreacting divas, and I'd really rather not be painted with that same brush.

Second, the letter lists 35 anthologies. I've only read one of them (though I have several others waiting on my shelf). I do not - and will not - sign my name to any document insisting on the award-worthiness of books I haven't read.

Personally, I think we in the horror field all need to stop acting like spoiled babies. We are owed nothing, we are entitled to nothing. We have to earn respect, whether from the IHG, our editors or our readers. Sending angry letters won't suddenly make us better writers with projects that are more award-worthy. Only by stopping to wonder why there was no award this year, only taking a look inside at what we may be doing wrong - rather than the shrill narcissism of thinking it's some kind of conspiracy by high-falootin' literary types who need to have their "standing in our community" threatened - can lift us to the next level. And that's where we all want to be, isn't it?