In April last year, I interviewed Helen Lowe about her newly released The Gathering Of The Lost (Gathering), the second novel in her Wall Of Night series—and now I’m delighted that Gathering has been shortlisted for the international David Gemmell Legend Award for Fantasy. I spent a couple of hours with David Gemmell at PhanCon, around 1999, when I was a newly published author. He was a great writer and a lovely, warm, friendly bloke, and as funny on stage as any stand-up comedian I’ve ever seen. As a fellow Fantasy author, I’ve asked Helen to share what it means for her—and how she sees Gathering in the context of the David Gemmell legacy.
Helen: Thank you, Ian—I was over the moon when I found out, not just because the David Gemmell Awards are international, but also because they are reader voted, so making the shortlist suggests that readers see “The Gathering Of The Lost” as having merit. As a new writer still, that’s tremendously encouraging. Also, the Legend Award was set up to honour the legacy of David Gemmell, which was a formative one for me as an epic Fantasy reader and writer. I love the sweep of his stories and the sense of contending light and dark—but also the many shades of human fallibility between those extremes. And I have always been strongly drawn to his writing of heroism, sacrifice and duty, as well as the ability of friendship and love, in rare circumstances, to transcend ambition and self-interest.
I feel Gathering and my Wall Of Night series is very much its own story, but it does speak to similar themes: it’s heroic Fantasy, but the focus of the story is on the Derai, a people who believe they are champions of good, but are divided by prejudice, suspicion and fear. Gathering in particular is an adventurous story, full of roof top pursuits and forced marches by night, tourneys and battles, bands of brothers — and definitely sisters — but it’s also a story about friendship and love. So although, with a female leading character and a “green” based magic, The Gathering Of The Lost is carving out its own niche, it’s also true to the epic-heroic tradition epitomised by David Gemmell.
Ian: Congratulations to Helen—and The Gathering Of The Lost—for making the shortlist and being in the running to be both the first woman and the first Southern Hemisphere author to win the Legend Award. If you’d like to find out more about Helen you can check out her website and blog, and also read about her influences and love of Fantasy here.
Alternatively, if you just want to go straight to the Legend site and vote, click here (don’t forget to click on “vote” to complete the process.)