2018 Sunburst Award Winners

The Sunburst Award Society has announced the winners of the 2018 Sunburst Awards for Excellence in Canadian Literature of the Fantastic in the Adult, Young Adult, and Short Story categories.

Adult Award

The winner of the 2018 Sunburst Award for Adult Fiction is The Bone Mother by David Demchuk, [Chizine Publications]

The Sunburst Jury commented:

David Demchuk’s The Bone Mother invites the reader into the uncanny valley between the present and the past. A series of related stories, many of them set in Eastern Europe, chronicle the fates of humans and mythical creatures as they face a war that may be their undoing. The stories explore the boundaries of compassion and warn of the dangers of forgetting. As unsettling as the stories are, they lead the reader deeper into the woods like breadcrumbs. The language is beautiful and the characters as haunting as the archival photographs that illustrate the book. The Bone Mother is a unique achievement.

David Demchuk has been writing for print, stage, digital and other media for nearly 40 years. The Bone Mother, his debut horror novel, was nominated for the Scotiabank Giller Prize, the Amazon First Novel Award, and a Shirley Jackson Award, as well as being longlisted for the Toronto Book Award. David has a special interest in queerness and monstrosity. His Cabbagetown back yard is home to a hive of curious but quick-tempered bees. He is quietly at work on a troubling new novel.

The other shortlisted works for the 2018 Adult Award were:

  • Omar El Akkad, American War [Penguin Random House Canada]
  • Terri Favro, Sputnik’s Children [ECW]
  • Fonda Lee, Jade City [Orbit]
  • Eden Robinson, Son of a Trickster [Penguin Random House Canada]

Young Adult Award

The 2018 winner of the Sunburst Award for Young Adult Fiction is The Marrow Thieves, by Cherie Dimaline, [Dancing Cat Books]

The Sunburst Jury commented:

Cherie Dimaline’s The Marrow Thieves is the story of young Frenchie, an Indigenous teen, and his companions, who are on the run from a society that wants their bodies — and their souls. The book brilliantly connects the legacy of residential schools to a dystopian post-climate-change future where only Indigenous people are able to dream. Dimaline’s novel reminds us of the power of storytelling and the importance of community, reinforced for the disenfranchised children by the wisdom of the heroic elder, Miigwans. The writing is painful yet beautiful, bleak but ultimately hopeful. In this era of reconciliation, Cherie Dimaline’s The Marrow Thieves is a work of speculative fiction that resonates and stays with the reader long past the last page.

Cherie Dimaline is an author and editor from the Georgian Bay Métis Community. The Marrow Thieves has already been awarded The Governor General’s Award for Young People’s Literature and the U.S. Kirkus Award For Young Readers. Her first book, Red Rooms (Theytus Books, 2007), won Fiction Book of the Year from the Anskohk Aboriginal Book Awards. Her novel The Girl Who Grew a Galaxy (Theytus Books, 2013), was short-listed for the 2014 Burt Award.

The other shortlisted works for the 2018 Young Adult Award were:

  • Charis Cotter, The Painting [Penguin Random House Canada]
  • Fonda Lee, Exo [Scholastic]
  • Kari Maaren, Weave a Circle Round [Tor/Forge]
  • Wendy Orr, Dragonfly Song [Pajama Press]

Short Story Award

The winner of the 2018 Sunburst Award for Short Story is “The Beautiful Gears of Dying” by Sandra Kasturi [The Sum of Us, Laksa Media]

The Sunburst Jury commented:

In a strong field with many outstanding stories, Sandra Kasturi’s “The Beautiful Gears of Dying” did for the jury what speculative writing does best, by using a fantastic/technological trope to explore the complexity of human relations and the texture of human life. Kasturi’s story is linguistically complex, economical, emotionally intense, and yet accessible, and it provokes recurring thoughts about our human predicaments.

Sandra Kasturi is a poet, writer and editor, and co-publisher of the World Fantasy and British-Fantasy Award winning press, Chizine Publications. Born in Estonia to an Estonian mother and a Sri Lankan father, she now lives in Canada. Sandra is co-founder of the Toronto SpecFic Colloquium and the Chiaroscuro Reading Series. Her work has appeared in publications such as On Spec, Prairie Fire, Tesseracts anthologies, Taddle Creek, ARC Magazine and others. Her two poetry collections are: The Animal Bridegroom and Come Late to the Love of Birds. Sandra is currently working on a new poetry collection as well as a new collection of her short fiction.

The other shortlisted works for the 2018 Short Story Award were:

  • Rich Larson, “Spiked” [Abyss & Apex, June 2017]
  • Karin Lowachee, “Meridian” [Where the Stars Rise, Laksa Media]
  • Rati Mehrotra, “Hacker’s Faire” [Cast of Wonders #239, March 2017]
  • Kate Story, “Animate” [Cli Fi: Canadian Tales of Climate Change, Exile]

Sunburst medallion.

Winners of the Sunburst Award for Excellence in Canadian Literature of the Fantastic receive a medallion that incorporates the Sunburst logo. Winners of both the Adult and Young Adult Sunburst Award also receive a cash prize of $1,000, while winners of the Short Story Sunburst Award receive a cash prize of $500.

The Sunburst Award takes its name from the debut novel of the late Phyllis Gotlieb, one of the first published authors of contemporary Canadian speculative fiction.

SUNBURST JURORS: The 2018 Sunburst Award jury was comprised of Megan Crewe, Kate Heartfield, Dominik Parisien, Halli Villegas, and Heather Wood. Jurors for the 2018 short story awards were Candas Jane Dorsey, Emily Pohl-Weary, and Alexandra Renwick.

Jurors for the 2019 novel awards will be Greg Bechtel, Janie Chang, Susan Forest, Kari Maaren and Susan Reynolds. Jurors for the 2019 short story awards will be S.M. Beiko, David Demchuk, and Gemma Files.

Submissions of eligible works published in 2018 for the 2019 awards are now being accepted. See the Sunburst Award News Page for details.

[Based on a press release.]

HWA Celebrates Women in Horror – Part 4

Every day in February the Horror Writers Association observed Women in Horror Month by running a Q&A with an award-winning woman member. Here are the highlights from the final week.

Sandra Kasturi – February 25

Sandra Kasturi in 2000.

Do you think women in horror face more difficulties than their male peers?

SK: Women everywhere face more difficulties than their male peers in just about every arena–unless it’s something that is considered “women’s work.” Sadly, those biases continue to exist. Although I did see a funny sketch on Saturday Night Live the other night, where a woman was interviewing actresses who were talking about the difficulties of being a woman in a male-dominated field like film. Kate McKinnon was playing an ancient actress who calmly (and hilariously) talked about “tickling FDR’s pickle” when she was invited to the White House. Jennifer Aniston talked about being a director, and Kate McKinnon said, “Did your husband sneak in and stand behind a plant and tell you what to do?” And the other actresses talked about current difficulties . . . oh my GOD, I am making this sound so dull. But it was pretty funny. And the point being, I suppose, that while things still suck in many ways, some things have gotten better. We’ve come a long way, baby. (Did I just quote a Virginia Slims ad?) Anyway, it’s good to remember that, when you’re frustrated because yet another table of contents in an anthology is 95% men. I say that, but I don’t want to be coddled and have things handed to me either. Because then it’s meaningless. I look forward to a time when if the ToC is 95% men, no one bats an eye because things are so equal that only the best stories were chosen–and the fact that it was mostly men that one time is no longer statistically meaningful–it’s just random chance. Will that happen in my lifetime? No. So we keep fighting the good fight.

I will say, though, that I’m not a fan of some of this new wave of feminism, which I sometimes find frightening. And sometimes absurd. There seems to be a kind of current climate which suggests that women can do no wrong simply because they are women, and that, of course, is ridiculous. You’re not sacred because you have a vagina. You’re not a good person because you have boobs. Men aren’t wrong simply because they are men. Assholedom is an equal opportunity employer.

Sarah Langan – February 26

Do you think women in horror face more difficulties than their male peers?

SL: Yes. We face more difficulty in every field. I’m always reluctant to fill out these interviews during February because it’s also Black History month, and there’s something discomfiting about taking the light from people pulled from cars and shot by cops on a disturbingly regular basis. But time has taught me that women aren’t fairing all that well, either, and it’s exactly my reluctance that defines the insidiousness of problem. I mean, crash test dummies are only tested for the average man, video game avatars are based on male-movements, and when we ladies get sick, the medical books only devise treatments based on trials on men, from symptoms of illness measured only in men. So, we’re not only making less money, but we’re dying more often, too, and unnecessarily.

That’s such a rant, and I know it. But I’m finally feeling like women in horror month makes sense to me and the above is why. Before, I’d always felt like I was being thrown a bone I didn’t need. But (1) what’s wrong with a bone? (2) why says I don’t need it (3) it’ not about me, at all. It’s about women in horror.

Beth Gwinn – February 27

Beth Gwinn

Tell us a little about your Bram Stoker Award-winning work(s). Inspirations? Influences? Anecdotes about the writing or critical reaction?

BG: At the time of creating the book, it took over 10 years to have produced. Being the photographer for Locus helped me to be taken seriously.

Charlee Jacob – February 28

Do you think women in horror face more difficulties than their male peers?

Yes, they say that women can’t even write horror, especially using more graphic elements. I’ve been to conventions and panels, and all the time people would say that women can’t even begin to write extreme horror, because it’s so violent. You also get reactions from people reading the works thinking that women don’t write very good horror: well, some of the biggest writers out there are the women for horror! Women are still stuck in the Victim Category.

What advice would you give to new female authors looking to break into horror?

Don’t use your real name! That was right from the guts! Just kidding, but seriously, most of the time I actually wish to had not let people right away know that I’m a woman, just because of the reactions. The name Charlee helped me in these situations. We’re a bit weird here, in the United States, and elsewhere, but not enough to believe that women could write good horror.