Author Graham Joyce’s latest novel, Some Kind of Fairy Tale won the British Fantasy Award for best novel this past weekend (announced during the World Fantasy Convention in Brighton). This is the sixth time Joyce has won the Best Fantasy Novel Award. Here is the synopsis:
Some Kind of Fairy Tale is a very English story. A story of woods and clearings, a story of folk tales and family histories. It is as if Neil Gaiman and Joanne Harris had written a Fairy Tale together.
It is Christmas afternoon and Peter Martin gets an unexpected phone-call from his parents, asking him to come round. It pulls him away from his wife and children and into a bewildering mystery.
He arrives at his parents house and discovers that they have a visitor. His sister Tara. Not so unusual you might think, this is Christmas after all, a time when families get together. But twenty years ago Tara took a walk into the woods and never came back and as the years have gone by with no word from her the family have, unspoken, assumed that she was dead. Now she’s back, tired, dirty, disheveled, but happy and full of stories about twenty years spent travelling the world, an epic odyssey taken on a whim.
But her stories don’t quite hang together and once she has cleaned herself up and got some sleep it becomes apparent that the intervening years have been very kind to Tara. She really does look no different from the young women who walked out the door twenty years ago. Peter’s parents are just delighted to have their little girl back, but Peter and his best friend Richie, Tara’s one time boyfriend, are not so sure. Tara seems happy enough but there is something about her. A haunted, otherworldly quality. Some would say it’s as if she’s off with the fairies. And as the months go by Peter begins to suspect that the woods around their homes are not finished with Tara and his family…
Joyce’s other winning novels were: Dark Sister (1993), Requiem (1996), The Tooth Fairy (1997), Indigo (2000), Memoirs of a Master Forger (2009). In addition to these six wins, perhaps more impressive is the fact that he’s been nominated a total fourteen times.
Earlier this year, Joyce was diagnosed with aggressive lymphoma cancer. The awards ceremony was his first public appearance since his diagnosis – indeed, six months ago, his condition was extremely precarious. Accepting the award, the author stated, “Just being able to stand here today is a wonderful award, thanks to the doctors and nurses of the NHS.”
Graham Joyce’s novels have always somehow managed to escape my attention. True, in this case, the synopsis doesn’t appear to be entirely to my taste. However, given just how many people rave about his work (and irrespective of the number of awards he’s won), I am intrigued. Especially as I start forcing myself to read more outside my ‘comfort zone’, and as my general Reader’s Block continues (‘standard’ fantasy novels have started to blur into one…).
I thought I’d also pick up on something from the biography I received today from his publicist:
“In 1989 Joyce quit his job as a youth worker and went to live and write in a beachside shack on the Greek island of Lesbos. He sold his first novel after a year in Greece. Since then he has written twenty novels and numerous short stories. His novels have attracted admirers including Isabel Allende, Iain Banks, A.S. Byatt and Stephen King.”
I wish I had the courage (not to mention the talent) to do this… Too often, I feel like my life has been dictated by “safe” choices. True, I’d like to retire to a cabin in North America, but there are rather strict visa concerns to take into account…