Ranger College instructor nominated for prestigious World Fantasy Award

Ranger College English Instructor Matt Cardin was one of five writers nominated for a World Fantasy Award for his work on the book ‘Born To Fear: Interviews With Thomas Ligotti.’ || Photo courtesy Ranger College/Anggita Ashton

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Special to The Flash

by Tommy Wells, Public Information Officer for Ranger College

STEPHENVILLE – Ranger College English Instructor Matt Cardin has been nominated for several writing awards during his career as a horror fiction/supernatural writer. None, however, compare to being nominated for the World Fantasy Award, one of the three most prestigious awards in the field of fantasy, horror and science fiction literature.

For Cardin, the award is all the more special because of the subject involved: His mentor and friend, the renowned horror fiction writer Thomas Ligotti.

The Erath County resident was one of five individuals nominated for a Special Award in the non-professional division for editing the book, “Born to Fear: Interviews with Thomas Ligotti,” which was published in 2014 by Subterranean Press. The book is a compilation of interviews spanning 25 years with Ligotti, who is widely regarded as one of the premier horror fiction writers in the industry.

“I feel honored to have been nominated,” said Cardin, who joined the Ranger College faculty in 2013 after working for several years at McClennan Community College in Waco. “The World Fantasy Award is kind of like the Academy Awards for speculative fiction writers. But mostly I’m glad that I’m helping introduce him (Ligotti) to new readers and helping those who read him get a little more in-depth look at Tom. He’s truly a unique and fascinating man, not to mention a literary genius.”

“I knew there would be a lot of interest in it (the book), but nothing like this,” he added.

Ranger College English Instructor Matt Cardin displays a copy of the book, “‘Born To Fear: Interviews With Thomas Ligotti’ for which he was nominated for a World Fantasy Award. Cardin served as the developing editor and wrote the introduction for the publication. || Photo courtesy Ranger College/Teresa Cardin
Ranger College English Instructor Matt Cardin displays a copy of the book, “‘Born To Fear: Interviews With Thomas Ligotti’ for which he was nominated for a World Fantasy Award. Cardin served as the developing editor and wrote the introduction for the publication. || Photo courtesy Ranger College/Teresa Cardin

And like a good scare, the nomination came without any warning.

“I had absolutely no idea I was even up for an award,” he said. “A close friend of mine —Jon Padgett, the creator of the official web site Thomas Ligotti Online — emailed me and said congratulations for being nominated. I guess he thought I knew about it, so I got on the Internet and started looking it up. It was a fun surprise because I didn’t anticipate or have any knowledge of being nominated.”

For Cardin, the road to being nominated for one of the top literary awards began very quietly. In the late 1990s, after Cardin had written several unpublished supernatural horror stories and essays exploring the relationship between religion and horror, Padgett founded the Ligotti web site and encouraged him to become familiar with Ligotti’s work.

“I was overwhelmed when I first read him,” said Cardin, the son of the late Tom Cardin and Kay Cardin of Cassville, MO. “I had barely heard of Ligotti before I started writing my own stories, but then I discovered that for years he had been writing and publishing the exact kind of stories that I wanted to write myself. So my birth as a writer is tied to him.”

Cardin’s work hasn’t gone unnoticed by Ligotti himself. They became friends via correspondence in the early 2000s, when Cardin began to publish literary criticism about Ligotti. Then, in 2013, the acclaimed author contacted Cardin and asked him to serve as editor of a book of interviews that he had been asked to publish.

“Of course I said yes,” said Cardin, who appeared as a panelist at the 37th annual installment of the science fiction, fantasy, and horror-centered convention ArmadilloCon last week in Austin.

His editorial efforts on the book didn’t go unrecognized by the literary world, nor by his colleagues.

“The award nomination is a fantastic honor,” said Lance Hawvermale, an English professor at Ranger College who is also Chair of the Division of Humanities and Fine Arts and an accomplished author himself. “I doubt that any Ranger College faculty member, past or present, has been nominated for anything at this level. We are extremely fortunate to have him on board. He is a one of the leaders in his field.”

Ranger College President Dr. William Campion agreed, saying Cardin was part of an outstanding faculty.

“This is really a special thing for Matt, and all of us,” said Campion. “To have someone with Matt’s credentials and abilities as an instructor only makes us, as a college, that much better in making sure our students get the best education possible. We couldn’t be more proud of his accomplishments.”

Others nominated for the 2015 Special Award include: Scott H. Andrews for “Beneath Ceaseless Skies,” Stefan Fergus for Civilian Reader, Ray B. Russell and Rosalie Parker for Tartarus Press and Patrick Swenson for Fairwood Press.

The winner of the World Fantasy Awards will be announced at the World Fantasy Convention in November in Saratoga, New York.

Cardin’s writing career began in the late 1990s when several of his stories were published online. In 2002, he had his first story published in print. Since then he has had many additional stories and essays published in both specialty and mass market publications. His first book, a horror story collection titled “Divinations of the Deep,” was published in 2002 by the Canadian publisher Ash-Tree Press. His second book, “Dark Awakenings,” combining supernatural horror fiction with several academic essays about the same subject, appeared in 2010 from Mythos Books.

His latest literary endeavor, an academic reference work titled “Ghosts, Spirits and Psychics: The Paranormal from Alchemy to Zombies,” was published in July by the large academic publisher ABC-CLIO. Prior to that, Cardin edited “Mummies around the World: An Encyclopedia of Mummies in Religion, History and Popular Culture” for the same publisher. His next project is a two-volume encyclopedia of the history of horror literature.

Initially, Cardin thought his career would take him in a different direction, specifically, audio/visual communications. He graduated from the University of Missouri with a Communications degree with an emphasis in radio and television production, and worked two years with country music star Glen Campbell as his video producer. He also spent time developing video courses for Missouri State University, working in the communications department for a mortgage company, and earning a master’s degree in religious studies before relocating to the Waco, Texas, area in 2008.

In 2013, Cardin and his wife, Teresa, moved to Stephenville, where he became an Academic Advisor and English instructor for Ranger College. The couple has one son, Danny Ray, a daughter-in-law, Becky, and two grandchildren, twins Wyatt and Gunner.


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