You can dream about something for many years, yet still be thunderstruck when it finally happens. Last weekend I won the Harland Awards with my sci-fi short story Sterrenlichaam (“Star Body”). If I could, I’d send my joy out into the world as a thousand Cthulhu tentacles sprouting from my face and marching forward, waving flags and throwing confetti.
The Harland Awards are best explained as the Dutch Hugo Awards. They’re the most important prize for fantastic literature – science fiction, fantasy and horror – in the Netherlands, for both short stories and novels. It’s been kind of a crazy weekend, winning this prize. I didn’t even intend to attend at first. I was scheduled to be at a Japanese festival to sell my young adult novel series Pindakaas en Sushi to a Hokusai’s wave of cosplayers, fans and geeks. No matter how exciting the award ceremony would be, book sales are my bread and butter and always take preference. Still, over the weeks I received increasingly urgent mails from the organization, luring me to Amsterdam with the promise of at the very least applause for placing twelfth or higher. Nothing could prepare me for what actually happened:
I went down to the stage to receive this heavy, murder-ready trophy. During my speech I felt like I was rambling, but the group of fellow writers I shared the evening with assured me I was still quite coherent. There’s a registration of the moment here, if you’d like to feel the evening’s nerves.
Star Body, the novel
Sunday morning I was back in my car way too early, to return to the festival where I’d receive a great many congratulations. My Facebook had degenerated into an avalanche of messages. On Monday, I regrettably buried my old grandma. Euphoria and sadness can sometimes be the strangest bedfellows. The coming week I’ll likely spend on a cloud. After that, I’ll return to developing Star Body from short story into a full-fledged novel, which I’ve been working on for a few months now. It’s become a little scarier though: the bar has been raised very high. Should I ever feel a little lost, I’ll turn to stare at the magnificent thing pictured above. We’ve already dubbed it the ‘tentacle trophy’. Rather appropriate, if you consider the twists and turns Star Body takes…
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