Last night I had the pleasure of attending the inaugural James Herbert Award for Horror Writing. The idea for the award (conceived by our Julie Crisp and administered by Herbert’s publishers Pan Macmillan) was to honour the late master of horror James Herbert, and to celebrate and publicise the boldest and best horror fiction out there at the moment. The prize was also administered in partnership with Tom Hunter, director of the Serendip Foundation, and the estate of James Herbert.
There were six judges: Kerry Herbert, James Herbert’s eldest daughter; Tom Hunter, who chaired the judges; Ramsey Campbell, author, editor and critic; Rosie Fletcher, acting editor of Total Film magazine and a horror expert and reviewer for SFX magazine; Sarah Pinborough, author and screenwriter; and Dr Tony Venezia, researcher and visiting lecturer in literary and cultural studies at Birkbeck, University of London and Middlesex University.
Together, they chose a shortlist of six novels: The Girl with All the Gifts by M R Carey (Orbit); Cuckoo Song by Frances Hardinge (Macmillan); Bird Box by Josh Malerman (HarperVoyager); The Loney by Andrew Michael Hurley (Tartarus Press); An English Ghost Story by Kim Newman (Titan Books) and The Troop by Craig Davidson, writing under the name Nick Cutter (Headline).
The winner was announced by Kerry Herbert as The Troop, which Kerry says “is the darkest of tales where human evil meets an insatiable force of nature to wreak havoc on kids, a scout troop, no less. What could be better? My father would have chuckled in his chair; his fans will love it. And you’ll never go camping again. The Troop is a brilliant and terrifying classic that I am proud to champion as the first winner of the James Herbert Award for Horror Writing - it's now one of my favourite books.” Davidson received £2,000 and a commemorative statuette.