Local couple wins award

| 28 Sep 2011 | 02:16

    Hewitt-Local residents John Grant and Pamela D. Scoville achieved a unique "first" at the World Science Fiction Convention in Boston over the Labor Day weekend: they became the first husband and wife writing team to share the prestigious Hugo Award. The Hugos are the Oscars of the science fiction world. They were first presented at the 1953 World Science Fiction Convention (Worldcon), and have been presented annually since 1955. They are voted upon by the several thousand members of each year's Worldcon. There are several fiction categories as well as individual awards for art, movies, and editing. The nonfiction category is called "Best Related Book," and it is in this category that Scoville and Grant, with Elizabeth L. Humphrey, won the Hugo for The Chesley Awards: A Retrospective (published by AAPPL/Sterling). It's a collection of fantasy art, as chosen each year by the members of ASFA, the premier association of professional artists in the field. In addition to more than 300 individual paintings and other artworks, it contains biographies of the artists. "Gathering the illustrations was the major task," said Scoville with a rueful smile. "Finding the first two hundred or so wasn't too bad-they were mainly the ones by the well known, currently practicing artists, many of whom we know. But the rest? Tracking down the others was often a real nightmare. Just tracing the artists or their heirs was difficult enough, but sometimes they'd sold the piece of art in question, so the hunt started all over again." "But lots of good things came out of that," Grant added. "One of the difficult cases was Alan Lee. With Alan it wasn't that he'd dropped out of the field-more the other way around. He was incommunicado in New Zealand, working on the Lord of the Rings movies. His e-mail address there was a secret. In the end, Artist Wendy Froud, wife of Artist Brian Froud and a great friend of Alan's, gave it to me on pain of death if I leaked it to anyone else! Luckily Brian, Wendy, Alan and I had all lived within about 20 miles of each other, when I was back in Britain, and she remembered me from the few times our paths had crossed. It was great getting back in touch with Wendy and Brian again, and strange to be chatting to Alan now we were both living on different continents, rather than a few miles apart in Britain!" The couple made new friends as well. "One artist who seemed completely untraceable," says Scoville, "was a sculptor called John Longendorfer. We'd almost given up on finding him at all when a final internet search revealed a likely candidate. Even better, he was in Milford, Pennsylvania, where he runs the Golden Fish Gallery. I phoned him up and sure enough it was the right John Longendorfer, so we drove over to borrow some slides of his Chesley Award-winning sculpture. Since then, John and his family have become good buddies of ours." "The fact that we knew so many of the artists was a great help," says Grant, upon whose shoulders the main burden of the writing fell. "Artists are often notoriously uncommunicative when it comes to the printed word, but I was able to coax information out of them with promises of a free beer next time I saw them. We also had help from many artists whose work isn't in the book-they just thought it was a worthwhile enterprise and wanted to pitch in. It's for this reason, for example, that I was able to put together the most comprehensive listing ever of Chesley Award winners and nominees-fuller even than the one ASFA had. Kind people were digging into personal files that hadn't been opened in years." After bringing home their 2004 Hugos, what next for the Hewitt couple? "Well," says Scoville, grinning, "this was John's second Hugo-he won in 1998-but only my first. I guess what I have to do next is try to win one on my own so I can catch up with him!"