So, uh, Digger won the Mythopoeic Fantasy Award for Adult Literature.
There’s a press release and everything, here
I’m…well, a little blown away, honestly. I was up against people like R.A. Macavoy and Tim Powers, and while I haven’t read the books they were nominated for, when I saw the names, my brain went “Tea With The Black Dragon! The Anubis Gates! Good lord!” and I mentally filed it under “An incredible honor to be nominated,” and thought no more about it. It’s not that I’m not proud of Digger, but we’re talking about people that I read in high school and they melted my brain.
The Mythopoeic Awards are for works that exemplify “the spirit of the Inklings” which was the writing group C.S. Lewis and Tolkien belonged to. You all know me well enough to know that I frequently have some grumpy things to say about C.S. Lewis these days—but I’m honest enough to admit that I wouldn’t care so much if his books hadn’t mattered so deeply to me when I was a kid. It’s the books that live in your heart that kill you when you pick them up later. If I didn’t still care so much about Talking Beasts, I wouldn’t want to scream “Why do you need a Son of Adam to rule you? One Beast, one vote! Trumpkin for President!”
Well. As I was not there in person to accept, I opted for a rather shorter and less fiery speech—I’m reasonably confident that I could call for revolution in Narnia in person, because either I’d carry the audience or at least I’d be the the one to get pelted with tomatoes, but that’s not a thing you can do by proxy. (And I really didn’t want it to be taken of criticism of the Mythopoeic Society, both because you don’t bite the hand that just handed you a statuette of Aslan* and because I absolutely approve of their mission—Narnia and Middle-Earth matter and no matter what the details, a society to keep alive worlds that matter is a marvelous thing.)
I wouldn’t write fan-fic about Susan for just anybody. And I will still hear no evil said of Marsh-wiggles.
So here it is, for anyone who is interested but wasn’t there to hear it:
I want to thank the Mythopoeic Society for having been so kind as to nominate Digger, my extremely patient publisher Sofawolf for having provided copies, and the judges for having made what was, for me, a wildly unexpected decision! I am sorry that I can’t be here to thank you all personally, but please know just how surprised and grateful I am.
When I was quite young, my mother got me a boxed set of the Narnia books by C.S. Lewis. I couldn’t pronounce “Narnia” but that didn’t stop me from reading the series until the bindings came unglued. These books were not like anything else I’d read, and they mattered in a way that most of the books in the school library didn’t. They made me want to write books with Talking Beasts in them. (My mother tried to explain copyright and plagiarism and that I couldn’t actually call them Talking Beasts. She suggested “Verbal Varmints” as an alternate. I recall being unamused.)
When I re-read the series as an adult, I remember being astonished at how short the books really are. When I was a child they were so much longer. There were whole scenes and histories in there that I’d only imagined or dreamed or invented inside my own head and attributed to Narnia.
The very best fantasy, I think, has this ability, to be larger on the inside, to be bigger than the sum of the words on the page. We look through the gaps between the sentences and we see a completely different landscape.
As with so many things we love as kids, my feelings about Narnia now are sometimes mixed, but you know, many years later, I did wind up writing a story about a Talking Beast–Digger the wombat–and to have it be so honored, by a society that knows all about books that are larger on the inside, is truly extraordinary. Thank you all, so very much.
*Seriously, this is a cool-looking award. I will post a photo when it arrives. I hear you can’t put on lipstick in front of it, though, or trains start derailing near your house and there’s been way too much of that going on lately already.