The winner of a 2018 Maine Literary Award was found ineligible because he is not a resident of Maine, and the Maine Writers & Publishers Alliance, which gives the awards annually, has named a new winner of its speculative fiction prize.

The award, which had gone to Massachusetts resident John Crowley for his book “Ka,” since has been given to Unity College writing instructor Paul Guernsey, who had come in second place for his book “American Ghost.”

“Ka” was nominated by the editorial director of Saga Press, a division of Simon & Schuster, whose marketing manager told the Maine Writers & Publishers Alliance that Crowley owned a home in Maine and lived here part time. Crowley, who was born in Maine, was named the winner of the award in a June ceremony.

According Joshua Bodwell, executive director of the Maine Writers & Publishers Alliance, Crowley notified the group that he did not live in Maine. While the award can go to seasonal or part-time residents, it is open only to people who live in Maine. Crowley reached out to say that he was unaware that his publisher had nominated him or that his publisher and his editor had said he met the eligibility requirements.

In a letter to Bodwell on July 2, Saga Press editorial director Joe Monti took responsibility for the misinformation.

“Although there was no deliberate intent to manipulate anything, I am nonetheless horrified to find us at this place,” he said. “Please know that John had no idea and was only delighted to be a finalist then a winner.”


Guernsey, who has been working at Unity College since 2010 and is in his third year of teaching writing there full time, said he got the news from the group last week and was excited.

“It was a little late, but I am delighted to have the award,” said Guernsey, who lives in Warren.

Just what is speculative fiction, the category Guernsey won for? “It is for fiction that is a little bit more experimental, I guess,” he said. “I think of my work as slipstream fiction or magical realism.”

He chose to enter “American Ghost” in that category. Published by Talos, an imprint of Skyhorse, the novel is indeed about a ghost, Guernsey said. “It is realistic in some sense and is at least as much about writing and the writing process, but it does have a ghost as the protagonist. It is a ghost who wants to tell his story from the grave.”

“American Ghost” is due out in paperback in October, Guernsey said.

Features Editor Leslie Bridgers contributed to this report.

Mary Pols can be contacted at 791-6456 or at:

Twitter: MaryPols

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