The Morris Award.

It was 9 a.m. on Friday morning for me, which is like 5 a.m. on Saturday morning for people who do not have my strange schedule and weird sleeping patterns.

The phone rang.

I woke up and stared at it.

It kept ringing. I kept staring.

Why was this happening to me?

“Answer the damn phone, Karen,” my brain told me.

My mother, in her infinite wisdom and somewhat limited patience, had drilled me in the proper manner of answering the phone until I could literally do it in my sleep. This once, the training abandoned me. Instead of a polite, if less than perky, “Hello, Karen speaking,” I picked up the receiver and growled, “Yes?” My brain gave a little sigh and threw up its cerebellum.

There was a pause. “Hello?”

“Yes.” It seemed the only word my mouth was capable of making.

“… is this Karen?”

There was something familiar about the voice. If one of my friends was calling me at nine am… “Yes.”

“This is [US editor] Alvina and I’m with [agent] Barry and [library services manager] Victoria and [publicist] Ames…”

KAREN’S BRAIN: Wake the hell up RIGHT NOW.
KAREN’S MOUTH: I’m trying, I’m TRYING!

“…and we are delighted to tell you Guardian of the Dead is a William C. Morris Award finalist.”

My brain and my mouth both froze. I think I made some sort of noise, because everyone laughed, but it really felt as if time had paused while the news percolated through my awareness.

The William C. Morris Debut Award. No more than five young adult books by first time authors, selected by librarians from the American Library Association, are finalists every year.

And my debut novel was one of them.

KAREN’S BRAIN: Holy. Crap.

Everything after that is a blur. I think I managed to convey how excited I was – and yes, it was totally okay to wake me up with this news, thank you, oh my god, thank you – and it was impressed upon me with much seriousness that I could not say a word to anyone until the official announcement was made*, and then Barry was like, and now you can go back to sleep!

“Oh, I couldn’t do that! I’m too excited!” I assured him, and fell into bed twenty minutes later.

I woke fuzzy-headed. I’d had some sort of dream, a good dream, about an award. How lovely! Okay, get on with the day, roll out of bed, check email, oh, something from Alvina…

Oh. Holy crap.

And then I spent the next five days walking around with a huge grin I couldn’t explain to anyone, the end!

Except now I can explain, and I am so delighted, and so honoured. Congratulations to my fellow finalists, Eishes Chayil (Hush), Lish McBride (Hold Me Closer, Necromancer), Barbara Stuber (Crossing the Tracks) and Blythe Woolston (The Freak Observer). That is some excellent company right there!

Oh, librarians. I’ve always loved you. This is just another reason why.

* KAREN’S BRAIN: Wow, five days of not talking about exciting things and being patient.
KAREN’S MOUTH: Those are CLEARLY our strong points.

What’s Going On

FIRSTLY: Internets, would you like to meet me? You may!

Guardian of the Dead signing
Melbourne Borders Central Station
18 December, 2pm.

With the excellent Foz Meadows, my buddy, and also author of Solace and Grief, one of my fave recent vampire novels.

I will be signing books, answering questions, and generally being my dorky self.

SECONDLY: If you cannot meet me in Melbourne – or even if you can – my favourite interview of the year has just gone live at New Zealand’s very own Public Address, where Jolisa Gracewood of Busytown put her amazing skills at work to ferret out thoughts I didn’t even know I had.

Jolisa is a terrific person, and I really enjoyed this interview, which dug into topics like location, location, location and why YA is awesome even when it gets no respect. Also, The Shattering tidbits. Also, also, and! There is a Booker Prize winner talking in the comments section. I feel all fancy.

THIRDLY: My December Lights Project story, “Queen of the Kitchen”, has duly gone up. Happy Holidays to alla y’all!

Inky Awards Shortlists.

Internets, great news!

The Inky Awards shortlists have been announced, and Guardian of the Dead has been shortlisted for the Gold Inky.

I am thrumming with joy. The longlist was a stunning honour in itself, but making the shortlist is amazing

The full lists:

THE GOLD INKY (for an Australian* YA book)

Liar by Justine Larbalestier
Guardian of the Dead by Karen Healey
Raw Blue by Kirsty Eager
Swerve by Philip Gwynne
Stolen by Lucy Christopher

The SILVER INKY (for an international YA book)

Going Bovine by Libba Bray
Leviathan by Scott Westerfeld
Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater
Will Grayson, Will Grayson by David Levithan & John Green
The Sky is Everywhere by Jandy Nelson

Now, a brief reminder – while there is no technological limit on voting, the awards are meant to be teen voted, so please don’t vote unless you are between 12 and 20 years of age. You can vote at Inside a Dog.

Every voter goes in a draw to win one of three prize packs that include all the shortlisted books, which I think you will agree is incentivising.

I’m also super thrilled that I have friends on the list. Libba’s Going Bovine is my most favourite story about a boy with mad cow disease going on a roadtrip with a hypochondriac Little Person and a garden gnome who’s the incarnation of Balder, Leviathan is an adventurous romp in an alternate history Europe with a girl passing as a boy so as to Pursue Her Dreams and flying whales versus walking tanks, and I can’t tell you anything about Liar, except that you have to read it right now.

Also, if Justine and Scott pull off a double spouse award, I may just expire of cute.

I do not know the other authors, but I am sure they are terrific! YA has a high terrific people quotient.

Do not forget! There is also the Creative Reading Prize, for the best creative response to any young adult book. Though the Grand Prize (an iPad!) can only be won by someone under 20, entrants and runnerups and spot prize winners can be any age.

Seriously, make Guardian of the Dead icons or write fic and I’ll do a little dance.

*Because I live in Australia and it was published here, etc.

THE SHATTERING Announcement

You guys, I have another book coming out!

I know, you’re all so surprised, I’ve only been blogging about editing it for a month. But I haven’t made an Official Announcement, and now it is well past time I did.

THE SHATTERING

If you want to find out who murdered your brother, come with me.

Summerton is perfect. A town in the isolated and stunning West Coast region of New Zealand, it is blessed with gorgeous weather during the most crucial holiday period, a huge music festival every New Year’s Eve, and hordes of tourists, who helpfully pick up and go home, leaving a lot of money behind them without ever trying to move in themselves.

But Keri is immune to her hometown’s charms. Her older brother has just killed himself, without warning or explanation, and left Keri shattered with grief and too many unanswered questions. So when her childhood friend Janna and tourist Sione offer answers, Keri is keen to listen.

Janna and Sione’s own older brothers died in suspicious circumstances. Sunny Summerton has dark secrets. And as they investigate, the answers to their questions become more bizarre. Shattering the secrecy of Summerton may open the trio to dangers they never knew were possible.

Can they save Summerton’s next victim? Or will they become victims themselves?

A young adult supernatural adventure, THE SHATTERING will be available in September 2011 from Allen and Unwin (Australia/New Zealand) and Little, Brown (USA).

A few things to note:

1) The Shattering is a standalone, not a sequel to Guardian of the Dead. I would love to write a sequel/companion for Guardian, but we will all have to wait and see! Emailing me to ask if there is any news will not help; I promise I will tell you all I can when I can.

2) I recently got word that Ben Mautner, who did the beautiful US Guardian cover, will also be doing the cover for The Shattering, and I believe the also ultra-talented Bruno Herfst will again be back to do the ANZ version. I am all aquiver.

3) The Little, Brown contract has a description of the novel noting that it is set in “a small Australian town”. Oh, L,B Contracts, you DO have a sense of humour!

Guardian of the Dead

In less than a day I had been harassed, enchanted, shouted at, cried on, and clawed. I’d been cold, scared, dirty, exhausted, hungry, and miserable. And up until now, I’d been mildly impressed with my ability to cope.

At her boarding school in New Zealand, Ellie Spencer is like any ordinary teen: she hangs out with her best friend, Kevin; obsesses over her crush on a mysterious boy; and her biggest worry is her paper deadline. Then everything changes: In the foggy woods near the school, something ancient and deadly is waiting.

Debut author Karen Healey introduces a savvy and spirited heroine with a strong, fresh voice. Full of deliciously creepy details, this unique, incredible adventure is a deftly crafted story of Māori mythology, romance, betrayal, and war.

STARRED REVIEW: [T]he weirdness and excitement increase exponentially. … This story starts off fast and strong and just builds from there. – School Library Journal

STARRED REVIEW: [E]nticing and utterly unique. This captivating tale will have readers hiding under the covers with a trusty flashlight until they finish the last fascinating and heartfelt page. – VOYA

Fast-paced adventure and an unfamiliar, frightening enemy set a new scene for teen urban fantasy. – Kirkus Reviews

“Smart, hilarious, and wholly unique. Healey makes juxtaposing totally modern characters with numinous and ancient magic look effortless.” – Holly Black (the Modern Faerie series, The Spiderwick Chronicles)

“It’s been a long time since a debut novel grabbed me by the throat and wouldn’t let go. Quite simply, GUARDIAN OF THE DEAD is my favorite kind of read—creepy, funny, sexy, smart, and sometimes just downright, pull-the-covers-up-to-your-neck-and-pray-for-morning frightening. This book completely rocked my socks.” – Libba Bray (A Great And Terrible Beauty)

GUARDIAN OF THE DEAD is published by Little, Brown in North America, and Allen & Unwin in Australia and New Zealand.

Going Places, Doing Things

Those of you attending the Melbourne Writers’ Festival or Worldcon 2010 might be interested in the events listings that will follow.

The rest of you can admire this picture of my brand new hairstyle.

I got it cut after I watched Scott Pilgrim vs The World.

I know, right? I can barely wait to see what it looks like with my natural curls.

Melbourne Writer’s Festival

Thursday Sep 2, 12:30-1.15, ACMI 2

I am speaking with veteran and FABULOUS YA writer, Carole Wilkinson, on “The Lure of Ancient Magic”.

Then I am toddling on over to:

The 68th World Science Fiction Convention

This promises to be ludicrously awesome.

Sat 1100, Rm 211: Capes and Skirts: the Plight of Female Superheroes.

As you know, internets, I have much to say on this topic.

With Tansy Rayner Roberts, Peter V. Brett and Seanan McGuire.

Sat 1200, Rm 207: Karen Healey and Russell B. Farr, READING READING READING

I am going to read to you from SUMMERTON, my New Zealand set YA urban fantasy coming out next September. It has some murders in it. You know I like those!

Sat 1500 Rm 210: Crisis of Finite Publishers

Is it possible that this cultural artefact of the 20th century doesn’t have a future any more? With a shrinking market come increased difficulty in creating and launching new characters and fresh titles: what are the best new superhero comics of recent years, and how did they succeed or fail?

With Alan Baxter, Paul Cornell and James Bacon.

Sun 1500 Rm 210: The (Haunted) Streets of our Town: YA Urban Fantasy

An exploration of the attractions of Urban Fantasy for YA readers.

With Seanan McGuire, Faye Ringel and Foz Meadows.

The question, internets, is whether I am stalking Seanan, or if she is stalking me.

Mon 1000 Rm219: Writing Strange Lands: Other Cultures in YA Speculative Fiction

This panel will discuss the impact of dominant cultures in writing YA Speculative Fiction.

With Gillian Polack and Helen Lowe.

When I am not in panels, I am likely to be 1) in the hallways 2) at parties 3) in the bar. If you see me, feel free to say hi!