I’m floored that “Happy Joe’s Rest Stop” from the anthology 18 Wheels of Horror, edited by Eric Miller, has won the Bram Stoker Award for Short Fiction. It was an amazing night—sitting at a table with R.L Stine, Tony Timpone and Anne Serling. Wow. Earlier in the evening I was honored to present Tim Waggoner with the very first Mentor of the Year Award. Tim’s been an amazing ally of mine the last several years, and has saved my sanity on a few occasions when dealing with the roller coaster world of publishing. I know: that seems ridiculous. Publishing? Isn’t that a bunch of old men in a room filled with cigar smoke, rare whisky, and rare editions bound in leather? Not at all. Every small victory is hard won. This was a big one.
With that? Here’s what I read after winning the award.
The Bram Stoker Award is a beacon. It’s that neon sign on a rainy side street in an unfamiliar city, luring you into a dark and cozy bar. There’s a song on the jukebox played by Damian Walters … something about singing about your scars … at the bar Gene O’Neill can tell you all about the Algernon Effect over a coffee … where behind the bar Kate Jonez will tell you how you might change your luck if you ask for just the right drink … and where at the end of the bar you might be tempted to open Allyssa Wong’s small bottle with something dark inside whispering your name … and I’ll have a story for you, too … about a boy and his Dad who get separated by the embodiment of pure evil … but even that is not enough to sever the tie between them.
Thank you so much to everyone who read and voted for my story.
All these great stories are to be celebrated and sought out. Horror fiction is in such a huge renaissance right now that if I started reading my TBR pile now, I’d still never get through the sheer amount of amazing works being produced all over the spectrum: from literary, to matinee, to the weird, to the bizzaro: I love all of you and walk with you on the nighttime streets, listening for when the darkness talks back to us, and writing it down when we can.
Thank you to the many in our community who’ve helped me over the years: Lisa Morton, Gene O’Neill, Hal Bodner, Deborah LeBlanc, Joe Nassise, Gary Braunbeck, Bentley Little, Tim Waggoner, Nancy Holder, John Everson, Joe McKinney, and everyone else, and especially the good folks of the Los Angeles Chapter, who continually inspire me.
Thanks to Eric Miller, the editor behind 18 Wheels of Horror, whose sure guidance shaped Happy Joe’s into the story it is today.
Thanks to my Dad and my mom and my brother, who have always supported their strange child through his many passions over the years.
Thanks to Fawn, who found my ghost heart and made it whole again. Your positive influence is nothing short of inspiring and continuously galvanizes me.
And all my love to Leonardo Gabriel. This one’s for you, Kiddo!