Whew, what a whirlwind of a weekend!
The short version: Two events, a drink that was ON FIRE, and a trophy!
The long version:
This weekend was the annual Romance Writers of New Zealand conference for 2021. This was my second RWNZ conference (I wrote about my first time here), and because of our closed borders, was a little smaller than usual and featured solely local talent rather than the usual line up of international guests. Turns out NZ’s local talent is pretty fabulous though, because it was a fantastic weekend.
In their infinite scheduling wisdom, the national science fiction and fantasy organisation announced very recently that they had decided to schedule their awards on the exact same night as the romance writers. Thus, I was faced with something of a dilemma. I would have liked to attend the RWNZ dinner and celebrate the winners there, but as I was a finalist for the national speculative fiction awards (the Sir Julius Vogel Awards), I decided I should probably go to that one.
I remember being in the crowd at my first-ever SJV ceremony, years before I had admitted to myself I wanted to be a writer. I thought that the pointy SJV trophies were one of the coolest trophy designs I’d seen, but I didn’t even daydream about winning one. After all, to do that would mean having a book published, and I wasn’t a writer.
The world turned.
I kept writing whilst not being a writer (I am sometimes not very bright). I moved nearly 20,000 km away from home. I wrote a book, a practice novel I never intended to let see the light of day. I called it The Lord of Stariel. I admitted to myself I might quite like writing.
I came home. I started publishing books.
Last year was the first time I made the finalist list for the awards, and the flock of pointy trophies sitting up by the podium took on a whole new meaning.
Awards don’t matter, really, you tell yourself. And they don’t; they’re not what keeps you typing when every word feels like a battle. They aren’t a measure of any objective Truth or Worth; every award has its own biases in who gets one and who doesn’t. You have not failed by not winning one. Making the finalist list is an achievement in itself. Plus, after the awards ceremony you get to drink and chat with cool people, which is fun regardless of the outcome.
I told myself the same things this year (and they are true things, I want to emphasise). But, oh, winning does feel good too!
This is a long-winded way of announcing that I won the Sir Julius Vogel Award for Best New Talent this year! I can’t remember what I said when I went up to receive it – it’s all a joyful blur – though friends assure me it was totally coherent and professional. I do remember the last line, though, which was me giddily bursting out with: “Yay, a pointy trophy!” as the presenter handed it to me.
Here is the celebratory drink that I had afterwards, at a nearby pirate-themed bar. The bartender set my drink on fire (deliberately)!
This was my last year of eligibility for this award, and coming so close on the heels of releasing my series finale was a special moment. Congratulations to all the finalists – there was some amazing talent represented on the lists – and to the winners on the night. Thank you so much to everyone who supported me on this journey.
(Yay, pointy trophy!)