The World Fantasy Award was established in 1975 as part of the World Fantasy Convention. Seen as a fantasy version of the Hugo and the Nebula Awards (neither of which are strictly for science fiction), the nominees and winners are selected by a panel of judges, although currently, two positions on the ballot are opened up to nominations from members of the World Fantasy Convention. The Novel Award has been presented since the first year, when it was won by Patricia A. McKillip for her novel The Forgotten Beasts of Eld. There have been six years in which the award resulted in a tie, most recently in 2018, when Fonda Lee and Victor LaValle both received the award. Originally, the trophy was a Gahan Wilson created grotesque bust of H.P. Lovecraft. In recent years as more and more authors, fans, and winners of the award spoke out against Lovecraft’s misogyny and racism, the trophy was replaced by a sculpture of a tree created by Vincent Villafranca. In 1980, the award was won by Elizabeth A. Lynn for her novel Watchtower.
Watchtower is the first volume of Elizabeth Lynn’s Chronicles of Tornor series, the second volume of which, The Dancers of Arun, was not only released in the same year, but also appeared on the World Fantasy Award ballot opposite this volume. The series was completed the following year with the publication of Northern Girl.