Australia’s top honor for horror fiction, the Australian Horror Writers Association’s Australian Shadows Award, is now open for 2009 but with a major difference — this year, the Award has expanded from one to three categories.

In previous years, short stories competed with novels and anthologies, but from 2009 onwards, awards will be issued for the best works in Short Fiction (short stories), Long Fiction (novellas, novels, and single-author collections), and Edited Publication (for editors of anthologies and horror fiction magazines).

New Award Director and Vice President of the Australian Horror Writers Association Shane Jiraiya Cummings heralds the expansion as a sign of the strength of local horror fiction.

“In previous years, Australian Shadows judges had the sometimes difficult task of comparing works of novels with short stories. This restructure is a testament to the continued growth of dark fiction Down Under. Now, our judges will be able to shortlist more deserving works that may have otherwise missed under the old rules,” Shane said.

The 2009 judging line-up continues the benchmark the Award has set for recruiting authors, critics, and editors who are themselves well-respected and knowledgeable members of the horror fiction community.

The primary judging panel consists of Craig Bezant, Stephanie Gunn, and Chuck McKenzie. The guest judges (who determine the winners from the finalists shortlisted by the judging panel) are Bill Congreve (Short Fiction), James Doig (Edited Publication), and Martin Livings (Long Fiction).

The Australian Shadows Award reading period is open from now until December 31. Works of horror and dark fantasy written or edited by Australians and first published in the 2009 calendar year are eligible.

Authors, editors, or publishers seeking to enter eligible work must contact Award Director Shane Jiraiya Cummings to arrange for the material to be submitted to the judges.

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