When I first told someone about the Parsec awards a few years ago, that person heard me say parsnips. I don’t ever remember having eaten a parsnip, so I can’t speak to their deliciousness. I have seen a Parsec, though. They’re so shiny.
Both The Secret World Chronicle series (written by Mercedes Lackey, Dennis Lee, Cody Martin, and me) and The Diary of Jill Woodbine (written by Jay Smith) made the finals. I am so proud of the work in both of these series. They’re unique; SWC requires a plethora of voices and accents to tell a complex story that has spanned almost seven years, while Jill is all first person through the eyes of a young woman at the horrific dystopia of HG World. At their cores, these are both stories of survivors of terrible disasters. Both stories present people who become shaped by their unusual circumstances and who succeed in spite of those who wish to champion a dangerous mediocrity where only a few are allowed to triumph.
SWC sets most of its action in Atlanta, Georgia, where running gags include telling someone to turn left on Peachtree and realizing that oh, again, there is Waffle House. In this story, aliens have invaded Earth and caused destruction on multiple levels, requiring that the heroes of ECHO band together to save the world from this Thulian threat as well as from others who would take advantage of the city and world in a weakened and desperate state. The cast is diverse and robust, with a range of voices from baritone to soprano and all sorts of quirks in between. There are multiple storylines, romance and wishful romance woven between characters, and themes that rise and fall each season. And, stuff explodes. It’s always fun when stuff explodes!
In contrast, The Diary of Jill Woodbine takes place in an area lovingly explained to me as “Pennsyltucky” in what used to be a big box hardware store known as HG World. Set at the onset of a zombie-fueled apocalypse, Jill survives a harrowing journey to this fortress where she realizes that the new society has rewritten the rules. In her own words, Jill tells of the activities of this strange walled town. While there are other characters in the story, the Diary is told in Jill’s own voice. Through her observations of others, she learns more about herself, her values, and where (if?) she can fit within this forsaken pocket of humanity.
I love both stories. I adore those characters, and I’ve been so fortunate to help bring them to life.
So, what happens now? Well, between now and Dragon Con when the awards will be announced, I’ll be working on more audio for both series. There’s also writing to be done for SWC’s third print book.
If you’ve read THIS far, though, there is more exciting news. By the time Dragon Con is over, BROKEN, a collaborative cyberpunk novel written by me and Cedric Johnson, will be available for purchase. We’ll have the podcast available later this year, but this is one of those official “put it in words and make it real” moments.