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2020 Sunburst Jurors

We are proud to announce our distinguished panel of judges for the 2020 Sunburst Awards.

Novel Jury

Kristyn Dunnion

Kristyn Dunnion has published four novels and one fiction collection, including Tarry This Night (Arsenal Pulp Press, 2017) and The Dirt Chronicles (Arsenal Pulp Press, 2011). Recent work appears in Orca: A Literary Journal, FreeFall Magazine, Foglifter, and The Tahoma Literary Review. A queer punk performance artist and occasional heavy metal bassist, Dunnion resides in Toronto. IG @midnight_sister

Michelle Butler Hallett

Michelle Butler Hallett is the author of the novels This Marlowe, Deluded your Sailors, Sky Waves, and Double-blind, and the story collection The shadow side of grace. Her short stories are widely anthologized: The Vagrant Revue of New Fiction, Hard Ol' Spot, Running the Whale's Back, Everything Is So Political, and Best American Mystery Stories 2014. She lives in St John's. 

John Jantunen

Prior to settling his family in North Bay, Ontario, John traveled extensively across Canada, living and working in almost every region of the country, and has translated these experiences into five novels, numerous short stories and a dozen screenplays. ECW Press published Cipher in October 1, 2014, A Desolate Splendor in October, 2016, and No Quarter, in November, 2018. His next novel, Savage Gerry, is an apocalyptic thriller set in Ontario's north and is forthcoming in 2020.

Michael Johnstone

Michael Johnstone lives in Toronto and is a lecturer in English literature at the University of Toronto, teaching courses in Science Fiction, Fantasy & Horror, Jane Austen, and Romanticism. He has published short stories in Compostela: Tesseracts Twenty (EDGE, 2017; edited by James Alan Gardner and Spider Robinson), On Spec, and Andromeda Spaceways Magazine; he has stories forthcoming in On Spec and the Fantastic Trains anthology (EDGE; edited by Neil Enock). On Twitter, he is @mikejwrites, and his website is

Peter Darbyshire

Peter Darbyshire is the award-winning and critically acclaimed author of six books, as well as a former journalist with the Vancouver Sun and The Province. His first book, Please, won the ReLit Award for best novel for its chronicle of daily life among the young, hopeless and nihilistic. His most recent book is Has the World Ended Yet?, a collection of apocalyptic and post-apocalyptic short stories. Darbyshire is also the author of the Cross series of supernatural thrillers, written under the pen name of Peter Roman. The series follows the misadventures of Cross, the very human soul who woke up in the body of Christ after the crucifixion and has all of Christ's powers with none of his morals.  Darbyshire's short stories have appeared in On Spec, Beneath Ceaseless Skies, Taddle Creek, Abyss & Apex, Tesseracts and many other venues. His essays and other non-fiction have appeared in almost every major media outlet in Canada.For more info about Peter and his books, visit

Short Story Jury

Omar El Akkad

Omar El Akkad is an author and journalist. He has reported from Afghanistan, Guantanamo Bay and numerous other locations around the world. He is the recipient of a National Newspaper Award for Investigative Journalism and the Goff Penny Award for young journalists. His work has appeared in The Guardian, Le Monde, Guernica, and many other newspapers and magazines. His debut novel, American War, is an international bestseller and has been translated into thirteen languages. It won the Pacific Northwest Booksellers’ Award, the Oregon Book Award for fiction, the Kobo Emerging Writer Prize and has been nominated for more than ten other awards. It was listed as one of the best books of the year by The New York Times, Washington Post, GQ, NPR, Esquire and more than a dozen other publications. He is one of 25 writers featured in the new anthology of speculative fiction, “A People’s Future of the United States.” Omar lives in the woods just south of Portland, Oregon.

Ursula Pflug

Ursula Pflug is author of the novels Green Music, The Alphabet Stones, Motion Sickness (a flash novel illustrated by SK Dyment), the novellas Mountain and Down From, and the story collections After the Fires and Harvesting the Moon. A new collection, Seeds and Other Stories, is forthcoming in 2020.  Her fiction has appeared in award winning genre and literary publications including Lightspeed, Fantasy, Strange Horizons, Postscripts, Leviathan, LCRW, Now Magazine and Bamboo Ridge. Her short stories have been taught in universities in Canada and India, and she has collaborated extensively with filmmakers, playwrights, choreographers and installation artists. Her fiction has won small press awards abroad and been a finalist for the Aurora, ReLit and KM Hunter Awards as well as the 3 Day Novel and Descant Novella Contests at home. Pflug's work has been funded by The Ontario Arts Council, the Canada Council for the Arts and The Laidlaw Foundation. 

Sarah Tolmie

Sarah Tolmie is a speculative fiction writer and award-winning poet. Her most recent poetry collection, The Art of Dying, was nominated for the 2019 Griffin Prize. An alternate history novel about Antoni Van Leeuwenhoek, the 17th-century microscopist, titled The Little Animals, came out from Aqueduct Press in 2019 to starred reviews in PW and Locus. Also with Aqueduct she has published the novel The Stone Boatmen (Campbell nominee in 2015), the dual novella collection of portal fictions Two Travelers, and the near-future satire NoFood. Her work has appeared in Strange Horizons, The New Quarterly, Grain, and in Year’s Best Canadian Poetry and Year’s Best Weird Fiction. Her website is