An Award Whisper on the Wind...

Current Theme Song (aka what's playing on my ipod right now): Aria by Mediaeval Baebes.

As you know, I am a champion for the underdog. Add to it the secret and wonderful things of the world and I just become a giddy mess. It is now the end of the year, that brisk time where I not only down gallons of hot chocolate, but also when award nominees and "Best of" list abound around every street corner (obviously I have Christmas songs stuck in my head too apparently). Kirkus has just announced their Best of 2012 list (but the teens and indie aren't announced until next week >_<), and the William Morris finalists were also just announced! But there is a whisper on the air of another award. And it is one you can help with.

I see your ears perking up. :)


There is an award, called the Andre Norton award. Scoot closer and gather 'round. It's story time. ^_^ (from a blog post where I am about to direct you). :D

Andre Norton first began talking to me about this project in 2004. Her initial idea was to establish an award (with cash) for unpublished manuscripts. She wanted to give a boost to the kind of story for young people that she’d loved as a girl, and that she’d written for so many decades. Underlying that was a fretting sense that those who wrote for kids didn’t get much respect, certainly not in the awards arena, and not for spec fic, even within SFWA.

Being a teacher at that time, and having worked with classrooms full of creative writers, I cautioned her that reading piles and piles of manuscripts takes a lot of time, and from everything I’d heard about other contests, she would be buried under boxes of subs. She was also talking to her close friends, who I guess said much the same.

Eventually Andre came around to the idea of distinguishing an already published work, and wanted it to come out under the auspices of SFWA.

My secret thought was Oh lord, not another award.

But I’d promised Andre to do what I could to help her dream become real, so I did some research on whether or not the award would be welcome in the YA world. That year I went to every librarian, teacher, and literacy convention or conference I could get to.

In every single panel that touched on speculative elements, without exception, when I stood up and asked the teachers, librarians, and literacy experts if an award for outstanding SFF for young readers —maybe named after Andre Norton—would have value, I got an overwhelmingly positive response. Yes! An award given under the auspices of such a body as SFWA would mean that book, and possibly the nominees, would get an edge on the yearly library budget fights, where spec fic almost always lost to Problem Novels and other mainstream books. An award conferred an aura of gravitas that gave sympathetic teachers fodder for using such books in the classroom!

My misgivings poofed like smoke. In the meantime, I found that Catherine Asaro, then President of SFWA, was totally on board.

Unfortunately Andre’s health had taken a serious turn. I acted as point person for petitioning SFWA, after which President Asaro went into hyperdrive. I think it was her charisma and enthusiasm, as well as the behind-the-scenes enthusiasm and support of Ann Crispin, a long-time loyal friend and supporter of Andre, that got the Board to ram the award through. There was also the enthusiastic support of past President and much-lauded children’s writer Jane Yolen, science champion Marianne Dyson, and others uniting to lend energy and voice.

The award was established just a few weeks before Andre died; in fact, if I recall correctly, she was being wheeled into surgery when the word was given to her that SFWA had voted its creation, which had pleased her mightily. She had never thought her name would be on it. I forget the possible names she’d had in mind, but to the rest of us, there was only one possibility: naming the award for Andre herself.

I love hearing the genesis for this award, and love it even more because it comes from an author I greatly respect. I don't know if you know Sherwood Smith (she is the author of the Crown Duel/Court Duel duet, the Wren series, the Inda series and many others). Some of her stories were instrumental in being with me throughout my adolescence and teen years.

And now here is the link. Because she wants your help in finding some unknown gems for this award. So if you have a spec fiction book you just love that hasn't got a lot of publicity, or are a treasure hunter like me, do go over there and make your ideas known! Be a hero to your own favorite story. :)

WriterGirl, ordinary girl extraordinaire, over and out.