A Blast from the Past (Winners) – Part 1
In this three-part series, past Dragon Award recipients talk about their award-winning novels and their Dragon Awards experience.
During this time, nothing provides a better escape from the world than diving into the pages of a Dragon Award winning novel. The Dragon Awards, launched in 2016 in tandem with Dragon Con’s 30th anniversary, allows readers, writers, publishers, and editors a way to recognize excellence in all things Science Fiction and Fantasy. These Awards are by the fans, for the fans, and are a chance to reward those who have made real contributions to SF, books, games, comics, and media.
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. While the world is locked inside, members and fans have turned to past award winners to build their reading lists.
We reached out to eight winners and asked them to talk about their award-winning novels, their other works, the Dragon Awards ceremony, and what they have coming up that they would like to share. We are sharing their responses over this three-part interview series. Those winners are:
- Claudia Gray, 2018 winner of Best Media Tie-In Novel with Leia: Princess of Alderaan; 2017 nominee in Best Young Adult with Defy the Stars; 2019 nominee in Best Media Tie-In Novel with Master & Apprentice
- S.M. Stirling, 2019 winner of Best Alternate History Novel with Black Chamber; 2016 nominee in Best Apocalyptic Novel with The Desert and the Blade; 2018 nominee in Best Alternate History Novel with The Sea Peoples
- Nick Cole, 2016 winner of Best Apocalyptic Novel with Ctrl Alt Revolt!; 2019 co-nominee in Best Military Science Fiction or Fantasy Novel with Order of the Centurion (written with Jason Anspach)
- Brian Niemeier, 2016 winner of Best Horror Novel with Souldancer; 2017 nominee in Best Science Fiction Novel with The Secret Kings
- Richard Fox, 2017 winner of Best Military Science Fiction or Fantasy Novel with Iron Dragoons
- Larry Correia, 2016 winner of Best Fantasy Novel with Son of the Black Sword; 2017 winner of Best Fantasy Novel with Monster Hunter Memoirs: Grunge (written with John Ringo); 2019 winner of Best Fantasy Novel with House of Assassins
- Kevin J. Anderson, 2018 winner of Best Alternate History Novel with Uncharted (written with Sarah A. Hoyt)
- Harry Turtledove, 2017 winner of Best Alternate History Novel with Fallout: The Hot War; 2016 nominee in Best Alternate History Novel with Bombs Away: The Hot War
**Please note: some answers were edited for length.**
Let’s start with this general observation: when most people are interviewed, there’s always an intro to them and their work. And interviewers almost always get that part wrong, somehow. Either they emphasize outdated events or have stale information or just plain don’t get the facts straight. Often there is a lot left out of the biographies most readers see. This is your chance say as much as you want right now to tell all the fans what they should know about you as a person and author, your work, and your career.
Nick Cole: After I won the Dragon Award in 2016, I embarked on my most successful project with author Jason Anspach, shifting from cyberpunk dystopia into the fantastic and exciting world of space marine fiction. In 2017 we launched Galaxy’s Edge to commercial acclaim, rapidly developing a motivated reader base who rabidly consumes anything Galaxy’s Edge. At 20 books and growing, the multiple series within the GE universe show no signs of slowing. We just released The Savage Wars, narrated by the legendary Stephen Lang (Avatar). It’s been a very exciting time, but Ctrl Alt Revolt! is still one of my favorite novels, and I love the main character Captain Mara.
Harry Turtledove: It’s all L. Sprague de Camp’s fault. I found his Lest Darkness Fall in a secondhand bookstore when I was about 15, and started trying to find out how much he was making up (very little) and how much was real (most). And so, after flunking out of Caltech the end of my freshman year (calculus was much tougher than I was), I wound up studying Byzantine history at UCLA. I got my PhD in 1977. If I hadn’t found that book then, I wouldn’t have written most of what I’ve written. I would have written something–I already had the bug–but it wouldn’t be alternate history. I wouldn’t be married to my wife; I met her when I was teaching at UCLA while my professor had a guest appointment in Greece. I wouldn’t have the kids and grandkids I have. I wouldn’t be living where I’m living. Other than that, it didn’t change my life a bit. Imagining me without reading Lest Darkness Fall is alternate history on the micro-historical level.
Kevin J. Anderson: I love to write. I love to make up stories. That’s been true since I was about five and made up my mind to be a writer. I wrote and kept writing, finally published a short story, finally sold a short story, sold a novel, sold lots of novels, then got invited to write Star Wars novels for Lucasfilm, while I kept writing my own original novels. Brian Herbert and I got together to collaborate on new Dune novels based on his father’s notes, and we debuted our very first one more than 20 years ago at Drago n Con. I’ve written comics, edited anthologies, collaborated on several projects with Neil Peart, the legendary drummer and lyricist from Rush. I run my own new-model publishing house, WordFire Press, and I also run a Master’s program in publishing at Western Colorado University. I’ve been married to bestselling author Rebecca Moesta for 29 years. I enjoy craft beer, and I love to hike in the mountains of Colorado, where I live.
Brian Niemeier: I am a bestselling science fiction author and a John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer finalist. My second book, Souldancer, won the first ever Dragon Award for Best Horror Novel and its sequel, The Secret Kings, became a 2017 Dragon Award finalist for Best Science Fiction Novel. I chose to pursue a writing career despite formal training in history and theology. My journey toward publication began at the behest of my long-suffering gaming group, who tactfully pointed out that I seemed to enjoy telling stories more than planning and adjudicating games.
And while you’re at it, tell us: what drives you to do what you do? What makes you an award-winning author and not a corporate executive or bricklayer?
Richard Fox: Why am I a full-time writer? Because my writing pays the bills. I write to get stories out of my head and there’s really no end to what’s available for me to write. Plus, it’s so much fun! I get to sit down and plot out an intricate storyline and bring that to fruition. On occasion, I’ll get a message from a reader thanking me for making their morning commute that much more bearable, or a doctor telling me they read my books to unwind from their job. Knowing that readers and listeners enjoy my stories so much is the best thing, really. I write to entertain, and that’s always first and foremost when I’m at work.
Brian Niemeier: There’s no such thing as an aspiring writer. We’re defined by what we repeatedly do. You could be the world’s biggest music enthusiast, know the workings of a piano inside and out, and have every piece of sheet music ever composed committed to memory, but you’re not a pianist until you sit down and actually play the piano with skill. I’m a writer because I write as a matter of habit with skill. The Dragon Con voters made me an award-winning writer.
Claudia Gray: It’s actually hard for me to answer this, because I was never truly “driven” to do anything else. I DID do a lot of something elses, from law to marketing to journalism, but this is the only work that’s ever compelled me. It’s the best job I’ve ever had.
Let’s start at the beginning, as they say. You won a Dragon Award! Tell us a little about that work and what makes it stand out in your mind, compared to your other similar projects to date? What have your readers told you they liked about the book?
Larry Correia: Each of my series I’ve tried to go for a different vibe. Monster Hunter is action adventure meets horror movies. Grimnoir was alternate history pulp era hardboiled detective fantasy. Saga of the Forgotten Warrior (Son of the Black Sword was book 1) I wanted to try my hand at a sweeping epic fantasy feeling. So, a big world, big events, and big people. It is more serious and darker than most of my work. It deals with some harsh things in a hard world, but I can’t stand fiction that is hopeless and bleak. So, this is a story about people rising up, overcoming challenges, throwing down their oppressors, and creating something new.
Claudia Gray: It felt like the single most exciting sliver of SW canon I’d ever gotten to tell, or maybe ever will get. They said, “We want you to tell the story of how Leia got involved in the Rebellion.” I said, “Great! How did she get involved?” They said, “You tell us.” That moment was AWESOME.
Kevin Anderson: Several years ago, a group of us created the background for an alternate history series, Arcane America, an America where magic worked, starting with Benjamin Franklin before the Revolutionary War. We each picked different time periods, and I was fascinated with the idea of Lewis & Clarke exploring an American West that was more like the Lost World, magic and shapeshifters and dinosaurs and sea monsters. The research, though, was quite an overwhelming job, and I brought in my coauthor Sarah Hoyt.
Next up in the series, these authors explore their reactions to becoming a Dragon Award winner. Stay tuned for part two of our three-part author interview series!
Are you excited to expand your reading list even further? The 2020 Dragon Awards voting period is opening soon! 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.