A big, deserved congratulations goes out to Christchurch fantasy author Helen Lowe, who has been awarded the Morningstar Award for Best Debut at the Gemmell Legend Awards for Fantasy 2012 for her novel "The Heir of Night", the first woman to do so.
I'm absolutely thrilled that a local author is garnering world-wide attention and accolades for her work. It helps bring the world's eye on New Zealand's growing collection of fantasy and science fiction authors.
When I first started considering writing seriously about 20 years ago, I felt very isolated. Fantasy and science fiction of the type I enjoyed and written by New Zealand authors was very few and far between, and often only written for a young adult audience. I imagine if there had been someone like Helen, as well as Russell Kirkpatrick, Jennifer Fallon, and Juliet Marillier, making big waves on the world fantasy scene then I might have had more of an impetus to start a whole lot earlier. Now, I take heart from her success. If she can do it from little ol' Christchurch, New Zealand, so can I.
I have referenced how difficult psychologically it has been to write in the last 18 months, but I had it different to Helen - I had no one to be responsible to but myself. She has had to dig liquefaction out from around her damaged house multiple times and dealt with far rougher times than me, and through it all she was working to deadline on the writing, editing and preparation for release of her second book "The Gathering of the Lost". I give her massive props for continuing to write, and write well, during such a difficult time.
Well done Helen, I'm very proud to know you.