The final installment in interview series where past Dragon Award recipients talk about their award-winning novels and their Dragon Awards experience.
The time has come to say good-bye. You’ve stuck with us for two parts of our Dragon Award winning author interview series and now we must say farewell…but we couldn’t leave without a few closing thoughts!
In part one and two of our three-part interview series, our award-winning authors talked about their background and what it was like to win a Dragon Award. Authors Claudia Gray, S.M. Stirling, Nick Cole, Brian Niemeier, Richard Fox, Larry Correia, Kevin J. Anderson, and Harry Turtledove gave us a peek into past, but now we close out our series with looking towards the future!
The Dragon Con hosted Dragon 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.
Do you want to see your favorite author on the list of Dragon Award winners? The 2020 Dragon Awards ballot is live and voting period is now open! Visit www.dragoncon.org/awards and register 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.
**Please note: some answers were edited for length.**
What advice would you give to other writers about how to write or market an award-winning book?
Larry Correia: My advice would be to write the best book you can and have fun doing it. If you are having fun creating it, that feeling will be contagious, will bleed into the work, and your readers will be able to feel your excitement as they read it. So don’t try to write “award winning” books, just try to write good books. Then afterwards the fans will decide. As for marketing, that’s one of the very best things about the Dragon Awards. There’s no back room politicking or behind the scenes favor begging like some other awards. It isn’t up to select taste makers, it’s up to the fans. With the Dragon, if you love your work, and you’re proud of it, then tell your readers about it! Hey guys, if you really like this, you can nominate it for a Dragon. There shouldn’t be shame for being an artist who likes their art. The Dragon wants writers to motivate their fans and spread the word. Enthusiasm is great. This stuff is supposed to be fun. I think it is fantastic.
Claudia Gray: Oh, gosh. I don’t know. The longer I write and publish, the less certain I am of any grand pronouncements about writing and publishing. I guess I’d have to say that you can’t think about awards; your goal has to be to tell the best story that you can. You shouldn’t be thinking about a jury reviewing it–just that individual reader getting caught up in the experience.
Richard Fox: Market research isn’t too difficult: Look at the top sellers out there and figure out where your passion for storytelling matches up with what’s popular. Readers will feel the enthusiasm you bring to the story and so long as you’ve entertained them with the story they came for, those same readers will tell friends and leave positive reviews. Everything snowballs from there. As for marketing a book that’s won the award, don’t be shy! That award is a mark of quality and will help new readers make the jump to spending their time and money on your work.
Your book is an award-winning book! Thinking back about it, if you could go back in time and change or add anything to it, what would that be?
SM Stirling: I’m pretty satisfied with it. You (or at least I) always amplify the world as you develop it for a continuing series and I might have put in a little more foreshadowing, but that’s about it.
Richard Fox: What to add or change…I would have deepened the reader’s knowledge of the antagonists. The true series “Big Bads” don’t come to the fore until the second book, where Roland finds himself in the middle of the conflict with the Ibarra Nation and the Kesaht. Just how and why the Ibarrans and the Kesaht are fighting against the Terran Union comes out over the course of the series. But the way the series unfolds, the reader learns about the Ibarrans and the Kesaht alongside Roland, and I’ve found that sort of pacing and slow exposition works very well.
If you were a voting electorate of one, what book by any other author would you give a Dragon Award to? What books by other authors would you recommend to those who voted for or enjoyed your book?
Claudia Gray: I’d give a YA Dragon Award to The Ten Thousand Doors of January by Alix E. Harrow. It’s a fantasy twist on parallel worlds, one with amazing language, imagery and romance (in both the little r and Big R meanings of the word). Definitely one of the best genre books I’ve read in the past year.
Harry Turtledove: A Retro Dragon (what would that be? a lizard?) for Lest Darkness Fall would be nice. Authors are dangerous people; they can change your whole life without ever meeting you. I was lucky–I eventually got to tell Sprague what that book had meant to me. I think he was pleased and appalled in about equal measure. And I’ve had a few people tell me they started studying Byzantine history because my work interested them in the field, so I know what he was feeling.
Nick Cole: I’m going to decline naming any authors because I have too many talented friends. If you enjoyed Ctrl Alt Revolt!, I guess I would recommend that you read any book by any author who’s been cancelled. Instead of just arbitrarily listening to someone’s opinion on some author and why they should be banned, blacklisted, and their works burned in a bonfire either digital or physical, I think you should take the time to read that book, listen to that person, and come to the conclusion yourself.
Lastly, what are you working on right now, and what makes you excited about it?
Claudia Gray: I’m working on a lot right now–my first graphic novels, the House of El trilogy from DC that will debut in January; final edits on my first Star Wars: The High Republic novel, Into the Dark; and maybe most exciting for me, the manuscript that looks like it will be my first original novel (not tie-in) for adults. No details yet, because we’re still shopping it around to publishers, but I hope to have good news on that front fairly soon!
SM Stirling: I’m doing #4 in the Black Chamber series. The first three cover 1916-17, the mutant alternate World War One. The current one, Daggers in Darkness, is about the postwar world; it starts in 1922 and goes on to about 1928; the tentative titles are Daggers in Darkness, The Warlord of the Steppes, and The Tomb of the Great Khan. I’m enjoying the hell out of this because it lets me research fascinating places — if you want a wide-open town, Shanghai in this period is definitely it, with Chinese and Western gangsters, warlords, secret agents…corrupt, vivid, violent. The pulps were often a pale reflection of the reality of places like this!
Nick Cole: As always lately, I’m in #StarWarsNotStarWars or what the legionnaires call Galaxy’s Edge. The relentless Tyrus Rechs, the 1% of the 1% legionnaires. Blasters, bots, and bounty hunters. Jason Anspach and I are telling those stories and we are having so much fun doing it. We call it “playing with action figures in the dirt”. And as long as the readers and listeners keep buying, we’ll keep doing it. And that doesn’t look like it’s gonna stop anytime soon.
Larry Correia: Destroyer of Worlds is the 3rd book in the Saga of the Forgotten Warrior, and it comes out in September. I am wrapping up a sci-fi space opera adventure collaboration with a great author by the name of John D. Brown right now. We brainstormed it live on a panel, with all the basic plot elements being given to us by a 10-year-old boy listing off everything he thought sounded awesome. So it is about a space pirates stealing fighting mechs, and starting a revolution on a space station orbiting a planet full of giant killer alien kaiju monsters, and is a lot of fun.
Kevin Anderson: I am finishing up the draft of Gods and Dragons, the third book in an epic fantasy trilogy, which started with Spine of the Dragon. It’s 200,000 words long and immensely complicated, and I have spun out so many complications over the previous two novels, which are now all coming to a huge grand finale. I love it when a plan comes together!
Harry Turtledove: I just finished a novel that I’m trying to sell. I have three or four pieces of short fiction under submission. I try to stay busy, and hope other people like what I do enough to give me money for it. I’m not much different from any other professional writer. Right now, I hope I stay well, along with my family and friends and anyone who happens to read this.
Richard Fox: Tough choice. I recently finished up a dual POV story with Jonathan Brazee about two dueling (see what I did there?) commanders in the middle of a mil sci-fi battlefield. Think Civil War meets Starship Troopers (movie version). Title is Hell’s Horizon and there’s something special planned for the audio version. Then, I’ve also finished a co-authored novel with David Weber that’s the first of a prequel series to his In Fury Born. Very exciting times for me as a writer, and I know readers will enjoy these too.
Brian Niemeier: Next on my schedule is book one in the second series of my Combat Frame XSeed saga. It’s got giant robots fighting in space. Think Macross meets Warhammer 40K. What’s not to be excited about?