My wolf voice had the opportunity to howl last weekend.
Feast of the Raven won gold and silver awards at the 2017 Colorado Independent Publishers Association EVVY Awards Ceremony.
That’s quite a mouthful, and I’m still not sure I believe it myself.
Friends who usually see me in hockey skates or trail shoes were shocked that I wore a dress that night. They know that formal ceremonies are not my thing. Like my story’s dark antihero, Gerwulf, my instinct is to shy away from the limelight.
As I walked into the huge event venue, part of me wanted to be somewhere else, a library, a forest—even a hockey penalty box. But when the ceremony started, I was glad to be there, even though I did not believe my novel would win. Past experiences with book contests gave me little hope for awards.
An intensely intimate story
I branded Feast of the Raven as fantasy for marketing purposes, but it does not fit well into the genre. It is not a sweeping epic with numerous characters and a complex fantasy world. Do not expect a climactic battle between good and evil or an untarnished hero. Instead, it’s the intensely intimate story of an angry man with a horrifying past.
Gerwulf is damned by God and banished by society in the gritty real world of the early Middle Ages. He is torn between warring ideologies and opposing elements of himself. He is both a beaten animal and a feared wolf demon. His greatest battle is to reclaim his humanity.
No wizards. No dragons. No knights in shining armor. Gerwulf's story falls somewhere between historical fiction, fantasy, literary, magical realism, horror, and half a dozen other subgenres. The best label I can give it, if I must, is historical dark fantasy.
Rebels with a cause
Despite this, it felt like a Cinderella fantasy when Feast of the Raven won first place for editing and second place for the audiobook. High praise goes to my editor, James Hallman, and the audiobook narrator and producer, Richard Rieman. They saw my vision and enthusiastically rebelled against the genre fiction model, transforming my story into an award-winning novel and audiobook. Like Gerwulf, they deserve to howl.