Part two of our three-part interview series where past Dragon Award recipients talk about their award-winning novels and their Dragon Awards experience.
In part one of our three-part Dragon Awards interview series, our award-winning authors talked about their background, what motivates them to write, and about their novels that captured Dragon Awards audiences everywhere.
If you are unfamiliar with the Dragon Con hosted Dragon Awards, these awards were launched in 2016 in tandem with Dragon Con’s 30th anniversary. Every fan, writer, publisher, and editor anywhere are welcome, and encouraged, to nominate and vote for the Dragon Awards! There is no qualification for nominating or voting – no convention fees or other memberships are needed.
Now in its fifth year, the Dragon Con hosted Dragon Awards has proven to be the defining “must” list for the greatest in genre novels, media, comics, and games.
We asked past Dragon Award winning authors Claudia Gray, S.M. Stirling, Nick Cole, Brian Niemeier, Richard Fox, Larry Correia, Kevin J. Anderson, and Harry Turtledove to explore what they felt by being nominated and how it felt to win their Dragon Award in part two of our interview series!
**Please note: some answers were edited for length.**
So, your book comes out. At that time, what did you know about the Dragon Awards? Had you heard of them, and if so, how and what had you heard? How did you react when you found you were nominated?
Brian Niemeier: Oh, yes. I was well aware of the Dragon Awards from the day they were announced. The industry was in desperate need of a true readers’ choice award open to anyone, and I applauded the Dragons for meeting that need. Learning that Souldancer had been nominated confirmed that my writing efforts were worthwhile. It was like receiving the mandate of greater science fiction fandom.
Kevin Anderson: I’ve been aware of the Dragon Awards since the beginning, and I was thrilled as a fan and professional to know there was one award big enough to truly exemplify the feelings of a large pool of readers and voters. I had been soured on other awards because of politics and in-fighting, but the Dragon Awards really reflective of what readers like. Sarah and I were very thrilled to find out Uncharted had landed on the ballot.
SM Stirling: I’d heard of them and thought they were a good idea; the other major awards had become dominated by small cliques of the like-minded, and we needed a broad-based fan award. I’ve been going to Dragon Con for many years now — it’s my favorite con, full of youthful energy and like sticking your finger into a light socket, but in a -good- way. I was delighted to be nominated; you’re always in good company at the Dragons. Didn’t expect to win, though.
Do you remember your reaction and anything you might have done (sat stunned, called people, etc.) when you heard you were up for the award?
Harry Turtledove: I was on Twitter. People started congratulating me. I asked them why, and they told me. I was utterly gobsmacked, and altogether delighted.
Nick Cole: I was utterly thrilled, and I told everyone I knew because it feels good to be recognized by the people you respect for the work you’ve done. No hubris, no pride like I think I’m better than anyone, that’s not it. It’s more like telling the people you respect, the tribe you belong to, “Hey, I’m one of you”. Believe it or not, that’s a really big thing for writers.
Were you able to attend the award ceremony? Was it your first Dragon Con? Was it what you expected? Who did you meet, and/or wind up hanging out with before/at/after the awards? How do you feel winning this people’s choice type award will affect your writing career, if at all?
Larry Correia: I’ve attended the ceremony a few times, and I’ve even gotten to be a presenter! I’m trying to remember, but I’ve been to probably six or seven Dragon Cons. It’s an overwhelming spectacle. I love that it is called “Nerd Mardi Gras,” and that is a giant compliment. There’s nothing else out there like Dragon Con and I think everybody who enjoys this sort of thing needs to go to it at least once before they die. It is a blast. I’ve met so many wonderful writers at Dragon Con that I can’t even list them all. Dozens of them, no joke, including people that I’ve been reading since I was a little kid. If I had to nail down which was the single most memorable, I got to meet Jerry Pournelle at his very last Dragon Con before he passed away. I’m glad I had that opportunity.
SM Stirling: I’ve been going to the con for years, and generally hit the award ceremony — I certainly wasn’t going to miss it when nominated, and besides, they had a very nice mill-and-swill party the day before for the nominees, all of whom were fascinating people and some of whom were old friends. Like Dave Weber, who I’ve known since the 90’s.
Richard Fox: I did attend. I had two very young children at home at the time (now there’s three) and couldn’t spend too much time away from home. So I flew in on a red eye from Vegas to Atlanta and got into the Con right as it opened. It was my first time attending, and I was amazed at all the great panels and the cosplay.
Your name is called out or receive word that you’ve won. Put us in that moment: what did you do, and what do you remember? How did you celebrate? Afterwards, was there anything you’ve have liked to add to your acceptance speech—because if there was, this is your opportunity to put it down for posterity!
Larry Correia: When you find out you won, it’s an incredible honor, because it’s coming from the fans. It’s coming from the people who shelled out their hard-earned bucks to buy your stuff, and who enjoyed it enough to vote for it. It is them telling you that they appreciate you, and that’s an amazing feeling. As for celebrating afterwards, when you’re at Dragon Con everything is a nonstop blur of crazy excitement anyway, so you just go with the flow. I’ve been super lucky in that I’ve won a few times. Son of the Black Sword was my first, but honestly, the most memorable feeling after the win wasn’t for that one and it wasn’t for me, but it was for when Monster Hunter Memoirs: Grunge won, because I coauthored that one with John Ringo, and I got to hand the trophy over to John. He deserved to get recognized, and the look on his face you could tell that he was moved by this thing given to him by the fans. It was a beautiful moment. He played it totally cool, but I could tell it meant a lot.
Nick Cole: The only thing I want to add to my acceptance speech since I didn’t get to give it, is this, “Thank you.” Writing is a lonely business, believe it or not, and you can’t believe how cool it is when someone has read your book, a stranger you never met, not your mother, and enjoyed it. Whether they gave you an award, bought you a drink, or just said “My dad’s last week in the hospital, we listened to your novel and it was special. That helped with the cancer.” Well, that’s right where I want to be. So if I had been on stage the day I won, and given an acceptance speech, I would say, “Thank you, I’m so glad to be here.”
Kevin Anderson: I was there, but my coauthor Sarah wasn’t. We both were proud to be nominated but I had honestly gone to the ceremonies to support some of my friends, who were also nominated. In fact, a couple of my writing students were up against each other and I wanted to cheer them on. I know this doesn’t sound believable, but it simply hadn’t occurred to me that I might win in my own category. I was up against some heavy hitters and, frankly, I just don’t win many awards. I have a lot of things nominated, but “always the bridesmaid…”. So, I wasn’t sitting on the edge of my seat, wasn’t rehearsing an acceptance speech. I was waiting to hear who else had won. I had to make something up on the fly!
Brian Niemeier: I was driving home from a business trip when a friend in the industry called and told me my book had won. Gratitude overwhelmed me, and I’m afraid my outburst of thanksgiving to God startled my passenger. There was also the sense of vindication I mentioned before, because earlier that weekend I’d told my fellow Dragon winner Larry Correia that I had a feeling we’d both win. The readers proved my hunch right.
Check back for our final and third installment where these award-winning authors close out our interview series with advice for marketing novels, reflections on their works, and what they have coming up they are enthusiastic about!
Are you excited to expand your reading list even further? The 2020 Dragon Awards voting period is opening next week! Visit www.dragoncon.org/awards and make your voice heard by registering to vote for the 2020 award winners. Be sure to tune in to our virtual convention on Sunday, September 6 for the Dragon Con 2020 Dragon Awards Ceremony.