James Herbert Award Ceremony 2015 The evening of Wednesday April 1st took me to darkest Kennington in south London as a guest for the inaugural James Herbert Award. The venue itself was tucked away in residential surroundings that made me wonder for a moment if this was my April fool.
The ceremony was held in the House of Magic which has a most unassuming exterior. It conceals an ornamental garden where church bells toll and a theatre decked out in the best gothic style with dry ice, cobwebs, skeletons and spiders. It left no illusion about the focus of the evening – Horror! All in honour of the man who introduced us to the Rats, the Fog and the Dark during his tenure as one of the UK’s most popular authors of the supernatural.
After a few drinks from the bar, we took our seats for the ceremony. The finalists were introduced by the evening’s compère, Tom Hunter; M.R. Carey’s The Girl with All the Gifts, Nick Cutter’s The Troop, Frances Hardinge’s Cuckoo Song, Andrew Michael Hurley’s The Loney, Josh Malerman’s Bird Box, and Kim Newman’s An English Ghost Story.
James Herbert’s daughter, Kerry Herbert, took the stage to announce the winner, but not before saying, “You can come out now, Dad.” A touching reminder as to why we were all gathered together.
Nick Cutter’s The Troop was the winner of the award for 2015, and I was regaled in the bar afterwards with details of some of the novel’s more grotesque scenes by fellow attendees. I think the night certainly proved that the future of the genre is in safe hands.
With the award made, it only remained to have one for the road, say goodbyes and make one’s way home through the now even darker streets of darkest Kennington. Here’s to the James Herbert Award enjoying a long life and helping to keep fresh blood flowing through the Horror genre’s veins for many years to come.
Jim Mcleod's Thoughts About The Winner
Awards are are funny business they often bring out the worst of us. People argue about the validity of the voting process, the prospect of collusion behind the scenes and the worthiness of the books themselves.
However when awards are done right they can really help promote the genre. Looking at the list the nominees for the first James Herbert Award, you cannot deny that it is a good list. Is it a perfect list no, but that would be 1- impossible, and 2- a matter of each person's individual preference.
Thankfully there hasn't been any sign from the chattering masses that these awards are subject to some of the same problems associated with certain other awards. Please let us keep it this way, these awards were actually featured on mainstream news channels, and that is the secret to getting our genre back in the public eye. It is not us the entrenched fans that will raise the genre back up, it is the casual reader that maybe reads one or two horror books a year that will achieve this.
As for the winner, in my opinion it is a funny one. While I had some problems with the book, mainly in it's paper thin characters, it is still an accomplished book that despite it's flaws will still entertain. It also is the one book out of all of the shortlisted books, that really captures the essence of a Herbert novel and in that I feel it is a worthy winner that pays respect to the legacy of the man who still is Britain's biggest horror writer.
You can read my review of Nick Cutter's The Troop here
You can also read an exclusive interview with Nick Cutter - here