Congratulations are due—no, not to me, although I’m still pretty chuffed about The Winged Horse having made it as far as the long list for the inaugural M.M. Bennetts Award for Historical Fiction. These congratulations are for those on the short list, whose names were announced this week: David Blixt (The Prince’s Doom), Greg Taylor (Lusitania R.E.X.), and especially Steve Wiegenstein (This Old World), who is generously reviewing and conducting a series of interviews with all the authors on the long list. You can find the interviews on his blog, starting now and continuing through at least the end of June. Questions about The Winged Horse just arrived, so check back soon for the link.
I have yet to read the three books that made the second cut, although I have begun Wiegenstein’s Slant of Light, which is remarkable for its ability to set a scene and draw the reader into the story world while providing just the right amount of local color and description. So I can readily believe that these three are the best of the best. I do know a number of the other authors on the long list, so I also accept that the committee had a tough decision to make in winnowing the field. I hope that M.M. Bennetts looks down and feels comforted by the warmth of her friends and their determination to honor her writing legacy.
And in case you’d like to expand your reading list, the long list of writers included, in addition to my book and the three listed above: Ella March Chase, The Queen’s Dwarf; PDR Lindsay, Tizzie; Elisabeth Marrion, Liverpool Connection; Mark Patton, Omphalos; David Penny, The Red Hill; Judith Starkston, Hand of Fire; Stephanie Thornton, The Tiger Queens; and Jeri Westerson, Cup of Blood. A wide range of times, places, and topics, so there should be something for everyone.
Of course, it would have been nice to see Winged Horse flying higher amid the clouds, but I am happy with the outcome. I don’t envy the committee as it struggles to cut the list from three names to one. I will sport my semifinalist emblem with pride, and I wish success to all the writers who entered—and especially to the chosen three as they advance to the next round.