World Fantasy nomination & Tanith Lee panel at WorldCon 75

/ Saturday, August 5th, 2017 / No Comments »

I put up a long post at the Mythic Delirium Books website about the World Fantasy Award nominations for my anthology Clockwork Phoenix 5 and for Rachael K. Jones’s story in it, “The Fall Shall Further the Flight in Me.” In that entry, I wrote about what the nominations mean from the perspective of an editor and publisher.

Here, I’m just plain ol’ me, squeeing that I actually made the World Fantasy Award ballot. It really is a longtime dream of mine, or at least an idle daydream that started up about the time Clive Barker’s Books of Blood became my favorite read as a teenager.

It’s especially wonderful that this nomination dovetails with the choice of the WorldCon 75 programming staff to place me on a panel commemorating the life and art of Tanith Lee.

Thursday, August 10, 2:00 p.m.
Remembering Tanith Lee, 101d, 14:00 – 15:00
John-Henri Holmberg, Shawna McCarthy, Ian Whates, Mike Allen

Tanith Lee (1947-2015) was one of the most influential English writers of science fiction, fantasy, and horror from the 1970’s onward. Her books grappled with contradictions and intersections, especially with regards to horror and eroticism. Her protagonists were often lonely, lovely, and alienated.

Tanith Lee’s stories were the core of the Clockwork Phoenix anthologies through their first four volumes. I feel the need to refer everybody to yet another Mythic Delirium Books entry: here I wrote in detail about her significance to the Clockwork Phoenix books and how a relationship that started out wholly professional became something more for both myself and Anita.

I confess that with each of the first four volumes I had hoped against hope something like this would happen. It never did, and I am definitely sorry that this did not happen in Tanith’s lifetime, although she certainly had no shortage of honors from the World Fantasy Awards and many other awards institutions without any help from me.

Nonetheless I cannot help but feel that she deserves to be acknowledged in this posthumous nomination. And I intend to say so this coming Thursday when I’m speaking on the panel in Helsinki.

Last year I was included on a similar panel at Readercon, and something became clear to me, that I was working with Tanith in more ways then I realized, as the books produced through my ventures as an editor and publisher have been filled by writers inspired by Tanith. On some level I suppose I knew this, but up until that panel I’d not had it so dramatically underscored, listening to authors I’ve worked with and published on multiple occasions — Theodora Goss, Gemma Files, Sonya Taaffe and Lila Garrott — speak about how deeply Tanith’s work influenced them as young readers.

I also recognized during that panel that while the interactions I had with Tanith while she was alive were very dear to me, my relationship with her and her work was rather narrow in scope. So in preparation for this upcoming panel at WorldCon I reached out to other writers and asked them to share what Tanith Lee meant to them. I’m grateful to Dora Goss and Gemma and Sonya and Nicole Kornher-Stace and Silvia Garcia-Moreno and Craig Laurance Gidney, who did not hesitate to share their own very moving thoughts about Tanith. I will share as much of what they sent me as I can with the audience at the panel, and perhaps find a way to make these tributes even more widely available once we’ve returned to lil ol’ Roanoke.

I’m looking forward to seeing many old friends in this country that’s new to us, and also looking forward to making new ones. Onward we go!


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