Green Lake Writer Wins Prestigious Award

February 16, 2016 6:53am


News from the Sci-Fi lit world… Greenlaker Stephen Merlino, the teacher and sci-fi author has won the Writers of the Future contest. You may remember we chatted with Stephen last year about his book The Jack of Souls. Merlino’s short story, also named the Jack of Souls is a “Chapter 0” of the novel and centers around what happens the day before the action begins in his book. We are new to this contest, so we asked about his award and future plans.

SG: It seems like this is a prestigious award with some very well known judge authors. Can you tell us more about this?

SM: Yes, this is a very prestigious award. As far as I know it is the most prestigious new writer award for fantasy and science fiction. Plus, there were over 8,000 stories submitted for the quarter in which I’m a winner. That’s staggering to me. Before that, the most I’d ever competed with was less than 1,000. So I feel very grateful that someone saw something in my story that set it apart.

SG: What it means for you to win this award?
SM: Most of all, I suppose it confirms legitimacy. Indie publishing a successful novel is one thing, but recognition from the old guard of traditional publishing is nice to have. My hope is that it leads to more recognition and opportunity in that industry, as in interest from Tor or Baen or one of the other big fantasy publishers. Many WOTF winners went on to contracts with those companies.

SG: Besides the recognition what else did you win with this award?
SM: The conference is one of the biggest prizes for the winners. It consists of a week in classes with writers like Tim Powers (who wrote the book from which Pirates of the Caribbean was made), and K.D. Wentworth. Larry Niven shows up, and David Wolverton. It’s an opportunity to learn craft from the best, and to make lasting connections with other writers. Plus, it’s a free trip to Hollywood! My wife and kids are as excited to join me as I am to go.

SG: Anything else you’d like to add?
SM: The title of my winning story is the same as the title of my novel, The Jack of Souls. I actually wrote the short story because I’d read that fantasy author Patrick Rothfuss (The Name of the Wind, A Wise Man’s Fear) got noticed after winning WOTF with part of a novel he’d written. When publishers discovered his winning story was part of a novel, they made him an offer on the novel. I thought, “I have a novel. Surely I could do that.” But actually I couldn’t find a part of of the novel that would fly as a short story. Instead, I wrote a “Chapter Zero” for the novel, which takes place an hour before the opening scene of the novel, and submitted that.

SG: Congrats Stephen and good luck at the conference.