No Fooling: Vodnik Won Another Award!

So the last week or so was a pretty big highpoint, authorly-speaking. Vodnik won a Westchester Fiction Award, and then a few days later, I found out it won the Association of Mormon Letters Award for Young Adult Fiction. Here’s what the blog post had to say about Vodnik:

If you’ve ever wondered what the rules are for death, or whether a water sprite and a fire spirit have a chance together, and especially if you are fascinated by Slovakian myths and legends, then Bryce Moore’s VODNIK is the book for you. A combination of coming of age story with a mythical heroic quest, Vodnik is a unique examination of life for an American teen of Roma (gypsy) descent in contemporary Slovakia. Together we learn that death has a sense of humor, that water sprites are not to be trusted and that a good training regimen can turn a victim into a victor! I thoroughly enjoyed Moore’s debut novel.

Yeah. Warm fuzzies all over in the Bryce household.

And yes, this is the piece of awesome I found out about last week that I couldn’t share until today. (And no–it really isn’t some sort of strange April Fool’s routine.) After I posted about it on Facebook and Twitter, people started guessing what the good news might be, ranging from a movie deal to a new book to a Newbery award. When I saw those guesses, I decided maybe I was setting everyone up for disappointment when they discovered the reality. But in the end, I also decided I didn’t care. 🙂

When I was out in Utah working at the libraries at BYU and Orem, I became familiar with many of the different awards out there on the local scene. The one I thought Vodnik had the most reasonable shot of winning was the Whitney Award. It’s fairly new, they regularly have honor books (which means even if you don’t win, you still have a shot of at least getting a mention)–it seemed more up Vodnik’s path. Smaller press, first book, author no longer lives in Utah. The AML Award seemed like a long shot. It’s more firmly established (dating back to the 70s), there’s often only one winner, with no honors books, and just look at some of the past winners: Robison Wells for Variant, Ally Condie for Matched, Brandon Mull for Fablehaven, Shannon Hale for Princess Academy, Louise Plummer (my former teacher at BYU)–the list goes on and on. Winners in other categories include Brandon Sanderson, Orson Scott Card, Doug Thayer, Gerald Lund, Nancy Fulda, Steven Walker, Eugene England, Dean Hughes, Leslie Norris, Neal A. Maxwell, Rick Walton, David Farland, Richard Cracroft–you might not recognize all those names, but I do. These are people I’ve looked up to for a long time. Teachers, scholars, writers–you name it.

I write about Mormon issues on my blog now and then. (In fact, they’re typically my most popular posts, for some strange reason.) People joke sometimes that there’s a “Mormon mafia” in the publishing industry. And while that’s just not true, it *is* true that a lot of us keep tabs on each other. We know who else is Mormon, and a lot of us know each other personally. (And let’s face it–statistically speaking, the YA fantasy genre is just chock full of Mormons. Far more successful Mormons in there than you’d figure there would be, based on how few Mormons there are in the general population.) Why do I care? I don’t really know. Probably because growing up on the East Coast, where there were so few Mormons, it was important to me to know I wasn’t the only one out there. That other people believed the same things I did, and maybe even didn’t get made fun of for believing them.

(Don’t get me wrong. I’m not Mormon because Scott Card is, or Gladys Knight, or whoever. But I’ve posted about it before–we all seem to want some sort of external validation from time to time. Someone or something that shows “I’m not completely nuts.” Knowing there are other people like us out there . . . it’s comforting sometimes.)

Anyway, the AML Award was one I was aware of and one I respected. I never even thought for a moment Vodnik would have a shot of winning it, and I was just floored when it did. When you spend years of your life looking up to a certain group of people, and then suddenly find yourself somehow officially included in that group . . . it’s the very definition of a Red Letter Day.

So I’m extremely happy to be able to announce it publicly now and share the new with you all. My thanks to the Association of Mormon Letters. It’s a great honor.

Go Vodnik! 🙂

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