Scott Nicholson and Kevin J. Anderson at the Writers of the Future awards ceremony.
LOS ANGELES- Scott Nicholson brought home the gold at a prestigious awards ceremony in Hollywood on September 24th.
Nicholson won the Hubbard Gold Award for his story, "The Vampire Shortstop," which beat out several thousand other entries in the L. Ron Hubbard Writers of the Future contest. The Writers of the Future is a quarterly competition now in its fifteenth year, with stories by new writers judged by top authors in the fields of science fiction and fantasy.
In addition to a $1000 quarterly prize, Nicholson received $4000 as the grand prize winner, and an additional $1000 for publication rights for the story to appear in the anthology Writers of the Future Vol. XV. The contest anthology is the best-selling book of its kind, and writers who have appeared in its pages have gone on to publish over 150 novels and 2,000 short stories.
"When I typed the last sentence on that story, I got this strange feeling that Id finally written something that would outlive me," Nicholson says. "This was before Id even mailed it off to anybody. Then, to have famous and well-respected writers like Frederik Pohl, Anne McCaffrey, Larry Niven, and Jack Williamson judge it as the best story of the year by a new writer, all I can say is Wow. Pinch me, Im dreaming."
As part of being chosen one of twenty-four writers and illustrators selected as quarterly winners, Nicholson was given a week-long trip to Hollywood for a writers workshop. The workshop was headed by legendary science fiction writers and editors Algis Budrys and Dave Wolverton, who won the Hubbard Gold Award in 1987 and has since gone on to write best-selling novels, video games, and movie scripts.
"I was sitting at dinner beside Dave Wolverton, and Jerry Pournelle was right across from me," says Nicholson. "Dr. Pournelle is a world-renowned science fiction writer and also one of the top astrophysicists at NASA. The next morning, I had breakfast with Kevin J. Anderson, who has published 58 novels in the last 12 years and has co-authored a prequel to Dune, which will be released in a few weeks. That afternoon, I talked to Fred Pohl about his favorite observatories. These people are not only brilliant writers, but theyre also caring, wise human beings who work to make the world better."
Other Writers of the Future contest judges who attended the ceremony included Dr. Yoji Kondo, head of the U.S. satellite systems and a successful writer under the pen name of Eric Kotani; Dr. Doug Beason, author and a consultant to the White House Science Advisor, Gregory Benford, and World Fantasy Award-winner Tim Powers. Also present was Dr. Robert Jastrow, who is director of the Mount Wilson Observatory and Hale Solar Laboratory.
Yuri Chari, a native of the Republic of Ukraine who now lives in New York, won the Hubbard Gold Award for the best illustrations of the year as judged by top artists in the fields of speculative fiction. At the ceremony, the "Dean of Science Fiction Illustrators" Frank Kelly Freas received the L. Ron Hubbard Lifetime Achievement Award for Outstanding Contributions to the Arts.
Other prizewinners whose work appears in the anthology include Ron Collins, Amy Sterling Casil, Jim C. Hines, W.G. Rowland, Scott Huggins, Nicole Montgomery, Don Solosan, Franklin Thatcher, Gregory Janks, David W. Hill, and Manfred Gabriel. Nicholson, Collins, and Casil were contest finalists last year.
Hubbard started the Writers of the Future contest in 1983 so that the creative efforts of aspiring writers could be rewarded and noticed. Hubbards lifelong commitment to helping other writers began during his own successful career as a fiction writer from the 1920s through the 1950s, when he was one of the most popular and prolific writers for the pulp magazines of the time. Hubbard published over 260 works of fiction, ranging from adventure, western, and mystery to becoming one of the founders of science fiction as popular literature. He wrote 18 New York Times bestsellers during his career, including the epic Battlefield Earth, which will be released as a major motion picture next year, starring John Travolta and Barry Pepper.
"Theres really nothing like the Writers of the Future contest," says Nicholson. "Most writing contests are like Send me $50 and your story, and maybe youll win $25. With this contest, theres no entry fee, and the only requirement is that you have three or fewer professional stories in print. Its often hard for a newcomer to break into the field because there are so many established writers. But Mr. Hubbard really did believe that new voices are worth hearing, and his vision lives on through the contributions of other writers."
Nicholson writes for a newspaper and works on his fiction first thing every morning, seven days a week. "Everybody says they could be a writer if they only had the time," he says. "Well, the time is there. Just make it. Sit down and do it. Its not rocket science. Im certainly not a genius, I just love to write."
Nicholson will be featured on a video clip of the awards ceremony, and on October 3rd he had a radio interview with Talk America, a network that reaches 33 stations. Nicholson is midway through his fifth novel while marketing the other four. But hes realistic about the long odds against a professional career.
"Nothing may ever come of it, but if you never give up, you can never say you failed," he says. "You only run out of time. Right now, its nice to be a Writer of the Future. I hope one day to be a writer of the present. All I can do is keep typing, keep working, and keep licking stamps."
Nicholsons work has also appeared in the anthologies Writers of the Future Vol. XIV, Dead Promises, The Psycho Ward, and More Monsters From Memphis. He has a story collection called Thank You For The Flowers which will be released next year by Parkway Publishers. He lives in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina.
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