Shirley Jackson Award Fundraiser, June 22-July 21

With the help of indiegogo, we’re running a fundraiser for our award.


In recognition of the legacy of Shirley Jackson’s writing, and with permission of the author’s estate, the Shirley Jackson Awards were established in 2008 for outstanding achievement in the literature of psychological suspense, horror, and the dark fantastic.

Shirley Jackson (1916-1965) wrote such classic novels as The Haunting of Hill House and We Have Always Lived in the Castle, as well as one of the most famous short stories in the English language, “The Lottery.” Her work continues to be a major influence on writers of every kind of fiction, from the most traditional genre offerings to the most innovative literary work. National Book Critics Circle Award-winning novelist Jonathan Lethem has called Jackson “one of this century’s most luminous and strange American writers,” and multiple generations of authors would agree.

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Charles Tan interviews Mira Grant

Mira Grant

Hi! Thanks for agreeing to do the interview. I love the title of the novel and how it works on multiple levels. How did you settle on Feed as the title of the book?

“News feeds.  Zombies feed.  Fear feeds.  People feed on fear, and the news feeds them more to be afraid of.  It was the only title that actually encapsulated everything about the story, and to be entirely honest, it wasn’t originally mine.  My editor at Orbit, DongWon Song, was like, ‘have you considered…?’, and I was like, ‘DUDE,’ and the book had a title.  (I’m from California.  I say ‘like’ a lot.)”

What kind of research did you have to do to make your zombies plausible?

“So.  Much.  Research.  I researched virology, epidemic modeling, and the behavior of populations in pandemics.  I researched simple-cell hive behavior, flatworms, viral transmission, genetic engineering, and the history of the CDC.  Everything I learned gave me eight more things I needed to know.  It was like this crazy daisy-chain of science.  But I think it paid off.  I wound up with something that was so concrete it could stand up to anything I wanted to throw at it.  And I like to throw things.”

What was the most difficult aspect in writing the book?

“I usually say that it was the very bad thing that happens two-thirds of the way through.  But from a technique standpoint, it was the length.  There’s very little extra in the text.  It’s actually very spare, a lot of the time.  So it’s all there because it has to be.  I’d never written anything that long before, and sometimes I got a little scared of my own story.  On the plus side, it was the kind of story that worked when it was backed up by a little fear.”


(Please help support the Shirley Jackson Awards. Donate here.)

Charles Tan interviews Michael Byers

Michael Byers

Hi! Thanks for agreeing to do the interview. What impressed me with The Broken Man is how the voice sounds authentic. What kind of research did you have to do for the book?

I’m a little chagrined to admit that my research for this book was very minimal — that my sense of Gary Rivoli, movie director, haunted by lost opportunities and an artistic decline, was informed much more by my sense of artists and creators in general rather than by a sense of how movies are actually made.  So while I knew enough about the movie business generally (from documentaries, books, and so on) to — evidently — put forward a reasonably plausible version of things, I actually saw Gary as a standin for all of us — writers, painters, musicians — who have been haunted by works undone.  I have never personally been on a movie set, driven a Bentley, flown on a private jet, interacted with monster-effects crews, sat zazen naked by my poolside, employed a Mexican cook, bought historically significant paintings, or been stalked by a deadly witch.

What made you decide to combine external horror with psychological horror?

I suppose I imagined them as being twin aspects of a single thing — that Gary’s condition is, arguably, something that he has generated himself, but that from there it has actually propagated into the external world.  Gary’s early life decisions have led him to a point of spiritual emptiness and crisis, and it is this emptiness that Alice White, the witch, has somehow detected and exploited.  It is never exactly made explicit in the novella whether Gary Rivoli’s visions of a terrible monster are literal or figurative, because I didn’t want the work to slide over into the purely fantastical.  Everything that happens in the novella could literally happen, since most of the true horror occurs in Gary’s mind, and the final scene could be argued to be in his mind as well.  I found that marrying the external imagery with his deteriorating psychological state was a natural thing, and allowed me to take Gary’s suffering as seriously as I would take anyone else’s.

What is it about the novella format–and how it affects the way horror is written–that appeals to you?

I’d suggest the novella form demonstrates a tendency not only toward concision but toward narrative speed, which corresponds nicely to the state that Gary finds himself in — suddenly under pressure, barely keeping up with his own mind as it attempts to save itself.  The natural claustrophobia of the form also allows the creation of a world-within-a-world — there is a sense, I think, of a separate space that occurs within, but also is distinct from, the quotidian environment we all know.  Novellas in this way can be at once intensely surreal and intensely realistic — and I hope I exploited these aspects of the form in sending Gary to his particular fate.


(Please help support the Shirley Jackson Awards. Donate here.)


Charles Tan interviews 2010 Jackson Nominees

The indefatigable, multi-talented, all-around-hero of the speculative fiction world Charles Tan has once again conducted a round of interviews with the Shirley Jackson Awards Nominees.

We’ll begin posting these interviews on June, 15th, as a lead in to our award ceremony at Readercon. We’re honored that our master of ceremonies is Victor LaValle, who won the Shirley Jackson Award for Best Novel 2009.

Keep an eye on this space for the interviews!

2010 Nominees Announced

Boston, MA (April 2011) — In recognition of the legacy of Shirley Jackson’s writing, and with permission of the author’s estate, The Shirley Jackson Awards, Inc. has been established for outstanding achievement in the literature of psychological suspense, horror, and the dark fantastic.

The Shirley Jackson Awards are voted upon by a jury of professional writers, editors, critics, and academics, with input from a Board of Advisors.  The awards are given for the best work published in the preceding calendar year in the following categories:  Novel, Novella, Novelette, Short Story, Single-Author Collection, and Edited Anthology.

The nominees for the 2010 Shirley Jackson Awards are:


Dark Matter, Michelle Paver (Orion)

A Dark Matter, Peter Straub (Doubleday)

Feed, Mira Grant (Orbit)

Mr. Shivers, Robert Jackson Bennett (Orbit)

The Reapers Are the Angels, Alden Bell (Holt)

The Silent Land, Graham Joyce (Gollancz)


The Broken Man, Michael Byers (PS Publishing)

Chasing the Dragon, Nicholas Kaufmann, (ChiZine Publications)

“Mysterium Tremendum,” Laird Barron (Occultation, Night Shade)

One Bloody Thing After Another, Joey Comeau (ECW Press)

Subtle Bodies, Peter Dubé (Lethe Press)

The Thief of Broken Toys, Tim Lebbon (ChiZine Publications)


“–30–,” Laird Barron (Occultation, Night Shade)

“The Broadsword,” Laird Barron, (Black Wings, PS Publishing)

“Holderhaven,” Richard Butner, (Crimewave 11: Ghosts)

“The Redfield Girls,” Laird Barron (Haunted Legends, Tor)

“Truth Is a Cave in the Black Mountains,” Neil Gaiman (Stories: All-New Tales, William Morrow)


“As Red as Red,” Caitlin R. Kiernan (Haunted Legends, Tor)

“Booth’s Ghost,” Karen Joy Fowler (What I Didn’t See, Small Beer Press)

“The Foxes,” Lily Hoang (Haunted Legends, Tor)

“six six six,” Laird Barron (Occultation, Night Shade)

“The Things,” Peter Watts (Clarkesworld, Issue 40)


Occultation, Laird Barron (Night Shade)

The Ones That Got Away, Stephen Graham Jones (Prime Books)

The Third Bear, Jeff VanderMeer (Tachyon)

What I Didn’t See, Karen Joy Fowler (Small Beer Press)

What Will Come After, Scott Edelman (PS Publishing)


Black Wings: Tales of Lovecraftian Horror, edited by S. T. Joshi (PS Publications)

Haunted Legends, edited by Ellen Datlow and Nick Mamatas (Tor)

My Mother She Killed Me, My Father He Ate Me: Forty New Fairy Tales, edited by Kate Bernheimer (Penguin)

Stories: All-New Tales, edited by Neil Gaiman and Al Sarrantonio (William Morrow)

Swords and Dark Magic: The New Sword and Sorcery, edited by Jonathan Strahan and Lou Anders (Eos)

Shirley Jackson (1916-1965) wrote such classic novels as The Haunting of Hill House and We Have Always Lived in the Castle, as well as one of the most famous short stories in the English language, “The Lottery.”  Her work continues to be a major influence on writers of every kind of fiction, from the most traditional genre offerings to the most innovative literary work.

The 2010 Shirley Jackson Awards will be presented on Sunday, July 17th at Readercon 22, Conference on Imaginative Literature, in Burlington, Massachusetts.


Media representatives who are seeking further information or interviews should contact JoAnn F. Cox.