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2021 Award Eligibility

Happy December, folks. I have a bunch of posts that should (fingers-crossed) be popping up over the next couple of days, but in the meantime: I have one new story this year, but it’s a particular favorite. It’s eligible for the Hugo, Nebula, World Fantasy, Bram Stoker, and any other award your heart sees fit to nominate them for. See below for a link, quotes from reviews, and a little spoilerish rundown (first written up on twitter) of why this story is so important to me.

DEMON FIGHTER SUCKS,” Apex Magazine, May 2021

Reviews

‘Demon Fighter Sucks’ is one of those horror stories that’s a bit funny, a bit sad, and fun to read. Broken into sections like ‘Step 5: Do Some Mugglefucking Magic,’ the story takes readers on the journey of conjuring a fairy while weaving in the main character’s backstory, which of course ends up having a significant impact on the spell and its conclusion. Like any good story.

Aigner Loren Wilson, Tor Nightfire

Young Run is a 16-year-old girl who – as part of her campaign against the fake magic of supernatural TV shows – attempts to summon a fairy for her Fun with Public Domain Magic livestream. Both entertaining and poignant.

Paula Guran, Locus

…and more from Charles Payseur at Quick Sip Reviews and Paul Jessup at Vernacular Books.

A Little Background

This one means a lot to me, folks. And not just because I used the word “mugglefucking” and got paid for it. It’s the last story I sold before my mother died, and the first story to get published after she died. For a lot of reasons (particularly apparent if you read it) this work is important to me, and Apex Magazine did a great job with it. Spoilers ahead…

One of the things I often have to go back and add during an edit is the emotional core of a story. As in, I’ll come up with a neat idea (I think), but it’ll be pretty lifeless. In this case, many years ago in undergrad I found a spell to summon fairies hiding in a random book.

“That’s neat,” I thought. “And also a terrible idea.” I of course kept a copy of it. It’s even available online, if you know which scanned book to look in.

Years pass, and I eventually suss out that I’d like to tell the story of someone doing the spell for a laugh and then dealing with the Real Consequences. More time passed, and I drafted the story of Run doing the spell and then Something finds her.

But it lacked heart, and I knew it. So I went back to my personal Well of Constant Emotions to dredge up the themes I know I end up accidentally injecting into things when I’m not paying attention. One of those things is parents, and parenting. So I went back and edited Run’s story to give her a reason for hating the show she used to love (when really, fandoms come, fandoms go), and gave her the intentionality for her magic that she lacked before: She misses her mother. Magic should have saved her. She wants her mother back.

And here is a spell for summoning things.

But listen. I know — I know — not to make wishes where Things might hear you. It’s baked into folklore, balladry, everything. I know it, even if Run didn’t.

After my mother died, my office sent a large batch of roses to my home. The florist hadn’t clipped the thorns, and I pricked my finger on one of them. And as I was in my kitchen, staring down at the drop of blood welling up, my first, immediate fucking thought was “I wish–“

I never knew how easy it would be to fall into that. I wish I’d never had to learn. And I know it’s silly, and it’s not real, and whatever– but I wanted it. I wanted it badly. Badly enough that for the briefest of moments, I didn’t care what might come of it.

So. This story is important to me. I didn’t know how important it would become, or how real, until after I wrote it and sold it and the world fell into chaos and my mother died. But it is.

You can absolutely hate it if you like, and I’m down with that, vive la readers. I’m just glad I wrote it, and that it can serve, in this strange way, as a dedication to my mother.

Debra Doyle (1952-2020)

(Image credit: Header image by Stefan Keller from Pixabay. Picture of my mom, unknown.)

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