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2019 Sunburst Jurors

We are proud to announce our distinguished panel of judges for the 2019 Sunburst Awards.

Novel Jury

Greg Bechtel

Greg Bechtel's first story collection Boundary Problems won the Alberta Book of the Year Award for trade fiction and was a finalist for the William L. Crawford Fantasy Award, the ReLit Award, and the City of Edmonton Robert Kroetsch Book Prize. His fiction, creative nonfiction, and essays have also appeared in numerous magazines, journals, and anthologies, including Prairie Fire, The Fiddlehead, Imaginarium 4: The Best Canadian Speculative Writing, and the Tesseracts anthologies of Canadian speculative fiction. With Rhonda Parrish, he co-edited Tesseracts Twenty-One: Nevertheless, an anthology of optimistic Canadian Speculative fiction. Currently, he lives in Edmonton, where he served as Writer-in-Residence for the Canadian Authors' Association and teaches creative writing and English literature at the University of Alberta, where he completed his PhD on Canadian syncretic fantasy. His website is, and he can be found on Twitter at @GbechtelWriter.

Susan Forest

Susan Forest is a three-time Prix Aurora Award finalist and a writer of science fiction, fantasy, and horror. Her novel Bursts of Fire, the first in a seven-volume YA epic fantasy series known as the Addicted to Heaven Saga, will be out in 2019 from Laksa Media, followed by Flights of Marigolds. She has published over 25 short stories which have appeared Asimov’s, Analog, Beneath Ceaseless Skies, OnSPEC Magazine, and her collection, Immunity to Strange Tales, among others. Susan has co-edited three anthologies (Aurora-winning Strangers Among Us, The Sum of Us, Shades Within Us) on social issue-related themes with Lucas K. Law. Susan is the past Secretary for the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America (SFWA), contributes to Calgary’s literary festival, When Words Collide, teaches creative writing at the Alexandra Writers' Centre, and has appeared at many local and international writing conventions. You can find her art and fiction at

Kari Maaren

Kari Maaren is a writer, cartoonist, musician, and academic who has no spare time. Her first novel, the Andre Norton-nominated and Copper Cylinder Award-winning Weave a Circle Round, was published by Tor Books in 2017. She has a completed webcomic, West of Bathurst, and is now in the middle of a second, It Never Rains. She has produced two CDs, Beowulf Pulled My Arm Off and Everybody Hates Elves. She is fond of time travel and titles that begin with “W.”

Susan Reynolds

Susan Lynn Reynolds (BSc Psych) is a writer, teacher and psychotherapist. She teaches writing through workshops in the community, at the college level and in social services settings and has won awards for her own YA fantasy novel Strandia, short stories, poems and non-fiction.

She is past president of the Writers’ Community of Durham Region (WCDR) and also past vice-chair of the national organization Canadian Creative Writers and Writing Programs (CCWWP). She is currently the director of the Canadian branch of Amherst Writers and Artists (AWACanada) and the vice chair of the international organization:

She has been leading writing workshops for female inmates at Central East Correctional Centre for thirteen years, a program for which she received the June Callwood Award for Outstanding Volunteerism. She leads writing workshops in the Amherst Writers Method (a method with a long history of working with silenced and disempowered populations), and is licensed to work with groups doing expressive writing for wellness and for cancer care. To read more go to: and

Short Story Jury

S.M. Beiko

Samantha Mary (S.M.) Beiko currently works in the Canadian publishing industry as a freelance editor, graphic designer, and consultant. Her first novel, The Lake and the Library, was nominated for the Manitoba Book Award for Best First Book. Her next series, The Realms of Ancient, began with Scion of the Fox (ECW Press, 2017) followed by Children of the Bloodlands (2018) and the upcoming The Brilliant Dark (2019). She is the co-editor of Gothic Tales of Haunted Love (Bedside Press, 2018), and her short fiction has been anthologized in Gush: Menstrual Manifestos of Our Times (Frontenac House, 2018) and Parallel Prairies: Stories (Enfield & Wizenty, 2018).

Samantha is also the co-host of The Business BFFs podcast with Clare C. Marshall--a podcast about making a career out of writing and creative freelancing.

David Demchuk

David Demchuk has been writing for performance, print and digital media for nearly 40 years, and has a special interest in queerness and monstrosity. In 2017, his debut novel The Bone Mother was the first horror novel to be nominated for the prestigious Giller Prize. It was also nominated for the First Novel Award, and the Shirley Jackson Award. It was listed as one of the Globe and Mail's 100 Best Books of the Year, and among the National Post's top 99 of 2017. The Bone Mother was the 2018 Sunburst Award winner.

Gemma Files

Formerly a film critic, journalist, screenwriter and teacher, Gemma Files has been an award-winning horror author since 1999. She has published two collections of short work (Kissing Carrion and The Worm in Every Heart), two chap-books of speculative poetry (Bent Under Night and Dust Radio), a Weird Western trilogy (the Hexslinger series—A Book of Tongues, A Rope of Thorns and A Tree of Bones), a story-cycle (We Will All Go Down Together: Stories of the Five-Family Coven) and a stand-alone novel (Experimental Film, which won the 2016 Shirley Jackson Award for Best Novel and the 2016 Sunburst award for Best Adult Novel). Most are available from ChiZine Publications. She has two new story collections from Trepidatio (Spectral Evidence and Drawn Up From Deep Places), one upcoming from Cemetery Dance (Dark Is Better), and a new poetry collection from Aqueduct Press (Invocabulary).