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Author Topic: Trouble at t'horror mill  (Read 5198 times)
Geoff_N
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« on: October 04, 2009, 08:58:25 AM »

 
Last weekend I attended the annual conference of the British Fantasy Society – FantasyCon – in Nottingham. As usual members of the BFS been asked to longlist and vote on various categories such as Best Artist, Best Novelist, Best film, etc all to be within the genre. This year the award for best collection of short stories (all from one author) went to Allyson Bird for her anthology with the brilliant title, Bull Running for Girls.

Then on the forums – Vault of Evil appeared this comment: “and the biggest shock is Bull Running For Girls and while Allyson is a nice lass and all, her collection is a shockingly bad one and should have in no way have won. I think there may have been intensive lobbying by her and publisher to get this award. Mark Samuels, Gary McMahon, STEPHEN KING! (his greatest return to form in 15 years!) have been beaten by a woman whose stories have all the grace and subtlety of being hit over the head by a sledgehammer.” 

Now this is posted the day after the awards – not quite doing a Kanye West when he jumped on the stage and took the microphone off Taylor Swift during her acceptance speech for the win for female video at the 2009 MTV Video Music Awards on Sept. 14, but the effect is similar. To make public that your award-winning collection was won because of publisher lobbying and that the stories are ‘shockingly bad’ without any critique explanation is plain rude. Understandably, Allyson is beside herself with anger and yet knows that if she retaliates too much then the situation could get worse. As for publisher lobbying, there is absolutely nothing wrong with that although it hardly happened. Steve Upham of Screaming Dreams is the publisher. Allyson’s book came out just as he was diagnosed with heart failure (only half my age too, and the nicest man you could meet). She had to do all her own promo for months. Like me she inhabited forums and told folk about her book. Like me she was attacked for doing that. Sadly, there are literary snobs out there who may get lucky to have their stories picked up by mainstream publishers then resent upstart unknown writers who have their talents spotted by small press and have to do whatever it takes to promo their work.

The writer of the shockingly bad note is Johnny Mains. He is not apologetic though he regrets that Allyson is upset. Bearing in mind free speech (not that we have that as much as people think) is it right for blog and forum writers to denounce literary works with no explanation?
The above quote from Mains is at
http://vaultofevil.proboards.com/index.cgi?board=newsdusk&action=display&thread=3208

and a reasoned discussion with links for fairer review of BRFG along with restrained comments from Ally is at
http://www.britishfantasysociety.org/forum/index.php?topic=2151.0

Sadly, it seems it isn’t enough to have ideas, craft them into stories, and persuade someone to publish them. We have to develop tough skins from loose thinking and mouths too.

Geoff
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Dragoro
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« Reply #1 on: October 04, 2009, 11:29:29 AM »

Not familiar with her, but if she was going up against Just After Sunset, then the guy was right. JAS is probably Kings best short story release hes ever done. And if it was on a forum, thats fair game anyways. This PC crap of never offending anyone is nonsense.
« Last Edit: October 04, 2009, 11:31:13 AM by Dragoro » Logged

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Geoff_N
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« Reply #2 on: October 04, 2009, 12:31:24 PM »

Fair enough. I've not read Just After Sunset, but if I thought it was crap I wouldn't just say so. Clearly the author (even King has off days) and the publisher thought it was worthy of publication and so I'd feel compelled to say why I thought whatever the reasons I'd think it was crap - or not. That's not being PC, just being fair.
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« Reply #3 on: October 04, 2009, 02:11:05 PM »

Hmm, must admit when I saw the list I wondered why the Mammoth Book of Best Horror wins the antho category every year. I haven't liked many of the stories I've read in the volumes I've bought, but I realise, as with all things writing, it's a matter of personal preference.
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« Reply #4 on: October 04, 2009, 02:30:56 PM »

I dont agree with the idea of not speaking your opinion just cause it might hurt someones feelings. That IS PC crap. And agreed, King has his off days, the cell and blaze were both terrible. Blaze was a rip off of Of mice and men, and The cell was a terrible rehash of The Stand.
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« Reply #5 on: October 04, 2009, 04:38:53 PM »

Rejection is part and parcel of being a writer. Hell, rejection is part and parcel of life, but once one enters the arts as a practitioner - into that area of life where subjectivity abounds - then it becomes even more so. Combine that with the internet, and literally thousands (maybe millions) of forums where any Tom, Dick, or Harry can make sweeping statements, often anonymously, and often without any effort to offer reasoning, evidence, or even personal insight or preferences to back up their statements, then you've got a potent mixture guaranteed to need a thick skin defence.

I don't know enough about the community to understand why "Allyson is beside herself with anger". Surely to have won such a great award is proof enough of the value of her work. You only have to look at, say, Amazon to find hundreds of people prepared to pronounce something as crap. In this case (as in many cases), I think the fellow's judgement reflects more on him than it does on the work he's criticising. In the long run, Allyson will be forever be the winner yet in a day or two other interent posts will drive this little exchange into the great data graveyard somewhere.

Well done to her! She won the award. It wasn't an off-day at the office. It was a prize-winning day. Great stuff!!

Derek
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« Reply #6 on: October 04, 2009, 06:02:01 PM »

I dont agree with the idea of not speaking your opinion just cause it might hurt someones feelings. That IS PC crap. And agreed, King has his off days, the cell and blaze were both terrible. Blaze was a rip off of Of mice and men, and The cell was a terrible rehash of The Stand.

I dunno. Although I've been guilty of saying harsh things about famous authors' work from time to time, in my more thoughtful moments I realise I don't know it all, and for me to say this or that is crap as if it's an emphatic truth is delusional at best and ignorant as well. It's alright to have an opinion, but to state it as fact isn't having opinion - it's being offensive. Political correctness doesn't have anything to do with it - it's just common courtesy. Treating others the way we would like to be treated ourselves.

I enjoyed Cell, but then I haven't read The Stand, so I might well agree with you if I had the knowledge and experience you do. That's something I bear in mind when commenting on things I don't like that are valued by others. I don't say they're foolish for liking it - I just want to know what they see in the hope that I can see it too. Sometimes there's another level to be appreciated that we don't see. I hate whisky, but plenty of people love it, so I know there's a good chance that if I put the time into drinking the stuff I would probably acquire a taste for it, sooner or later. Many things are like that.
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« Reply #7 on: October 24, 2009, 01:57:17 PM »

ED, have you read The Stand?

If so, how could ya enjoy The Cell? Dont ya think it was just a contrived remake?
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« Reply #8 on: October 24, 2009, 05:35:48 PM »

Nope, as I said above, I haven't read it, but if I had I might well agree with you. The Cell was the first King novel I'd enjoyed for ages. I had read Rose Red before that and had decided not to read any more of his work after that, because I really didn't enjoy it. Cell was on offer in an airport for something like £3, so I thought what the hell, and bought it.
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Planning is an unnatural process - it is much more fun to do something.  The nicest thing about not planning is that failure comes as a complete surprise, rather than being preceded by a period of worry and depression. [Sir John Harvey-Jones]
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« Reply #9 on: October 24, 2009, 05:46:02 PM »

You must read 'The Stand', the unabridged if you can.
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« Reply #10 on: October 24, 2009, 07:30:53 PM »

OMG Judging Kings work by Rose Red? Going to keep my mouth shut on that one lol.
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