July: Fantasies from a Fantasy Award by Dia Calhoun

When I received an e-mail from the Mythopoeic Society informing me that I had been awarded the Mythopoeic Fantasy Award for Children’s Literature for my book Aria of the Sea, I was surprised but not elated—because I knew nothing about this prestigious award. Not until I learned that the award is given to only one book a year--and Aria of the Sea had won over Donna Jo Napoli's Beast and Jane Yolen's Boots and the Seven Leaguers, and that previous winners included Tolkien, Salman Rushdie, Dianna Wynne-Jones, and Orson Scott Card—and in the adult category my idols Patricia McKillip and Peter S. Beagle—did elation arrive with a wild whoop!

Then my own fantasies set in—my sales would soar, interview requests would come flocking in, I would happily but modestly accept the award at a dinner in my honor attended the literary luminaries of the book world.

None of this happened. My sales, while sound for Aria of the Sea, did not soar. My publisher was barely interested. There were no interviews—not even a mention in my local paper. Yes, there was some kind of award ceremony given by the Mythopoeic Society, but I would have to pay my own way—air fare, hotel, food, taxis. I couldn’t afford to go. I wrote an acceptance speech which someone read for me. I did receive a lovely trophy in the mail.

I am very glad to have won the Mythopoeic Fantasy Award;it is prestigious and coveted by fantasy writers. Years later I met an acclaimed adult fantasy writer who lives in my town. She looked at me and said something like, “You have a Mythopoeic Award, don’t you?” I was flabbergasted—largely because I realized that no one else, NO ONE, had ever mentioned the award to me before.

The award did get me listed in Wikipedia. And it looks nice on my jacket flap bio. But the fantasy award opened no magic doors in my life.