Stephen King, you took one hell of a beating…

So it’s a week or so after my novel THE UNBLEMISHED won the International Horror Guild Award for Best Novel. The last seven days have been one big grin. I am so happy. A couple of weeks previously I’d been up for two awards at the British Fantasy Awards. I came away empty-handed, but there was no bitterness in my disappointment. The winners of the categories in which I had been nominated were Mark Chadbourn and Tim Lebbon, two of the nicest human beings you could hope to meet, so I couldn’t exactly spit venom in their direction. In addition, perennial awards bridesmaid (and one of my dearest friends) Mark Morris broke his duck so the ceremony was always going to be a happy time.

Bizarrely, I reckoned my best chance for a gong was in the juried IHG award, even though I’d be up against a strong shortlist, which included Stephen King. Let’s face it, if it wasn’t for Stephen King, I probably wouldn’t be writing today, and neither would the majority of horror writers. I was 12 when I picked up SALEM’S LOT and read it, seemingly, in a moment. I was, and still am, in awe of him. Recently I’ve re-read what must be the strongest consecutive line-up of horror novels in history: SL, THE SHINING, THE STAND, THE DEAD ZONE. Those four books alone, if he never went on to write anything else, would cement his place in horror literature. I think he went off the boil a bit after that, but IT, MISERY, THE GREEN MILE and BAG OF BONES show that he is always capable of pulling something exemplary out of his wizard’s sleeve. It was a big thrill for me to win the IHG award up against one of my idols. If I do nothing else, I’ll always have that. What a story for the grandchildren…

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