A gala evening featuring many famous crime writers. I am there. When chatting to some of my heroes I say self-deprecatingly ‘No, no: I don’t write crime fiction. I’m just a blogger and a fan.’ And then I remember and add ‘Oh but I am actually a nominee at the awards tonight.’
And, yes, there I was.
King of the crime experts Curtis Evans, proprietor of the Passing Tramp website, put together the book Murder in the Closet a year or so ago, featuring essays on gay themes in pre-Stonewall crime fiction. I contributed a piece on one of my favourite crime books, Miss Pym Disposes by Josephine Tey. Earlier this year the book was nominated for an Edgar award - these are organized by the Mystery Writers of America, and I am just crassly going to tell any of you who don’t know that they are highly prestigious, like a cross between the Oscars and the Booker Prize for crime books. We were nominated in the Best Critical/Biographical category.
This was a particularly well-deserved shoutout for Curt, who works tirelessly to raise the profile of detective fiction, rediscovers lost masterpieces, writes articles, and essays, and introductions to re-issues. When he mentioned an award ceremony and banquet in New York, I realized that I
And it was the best decision ever: going to the Edgars is going to be the highlight of my 2018…
Only a handful of the contributors were able to make it, but I feel we represented all of them, and it was a particular joy for me to spend the evening with two people whom I know well online but had never met IRL: Curt, and John Norris of Pretty Sinister Books. (I was surprised to find John looked nothing like his avatar, but then I don’t look like mine either…)
John, Curt, me, and our book
The room was filled with wonderful writers and legendary crime fiction figures, and I shamelessly managed to at least speak to many of them (‘Hello. Love your books.’ ‘Thanks!’). I even got invited to an important after-awards party – I didn’t GO, but it was nice to be asked. Everyone was very friendly, and the atmosphere was a delight – friendly and non-competitive and encouraging, despite the nature of an awards ceremony.
We didn’t win our category: the award went to a biography of ground-breaking crime author Chester B Himes, which I’m sure deserved it: it didn’t feel like losing, and made no difference to the delights of the evening. And again I would like to stress how splendid it was that Curt got some of the recognition he deserves.
Edgar Allan Poe rendered in chocolate
Among the attendees: Peter Lovesey, William Link (who invented both Columbo and Jessica Fletcher), Otto Penzler, Michael Connolly, Mary Higgins, Jeffrey Deaver, Attica Locke, (who won the overall best crime novel), Charles Todd.
I would have liked to meet Lawrence Block, whose books I love, but couldn’t quite bring myself to approach him.
****ADDED LATER: and Lawrence Block himself came visiting to this blogpost, and commented, see below... ****
After the Edgars he tweeted this:
Well, he is just blasé (he has won A LOT of Edgars), for me it could’ve gone on all night…. I was lucky enough to see My Fair Lady the next night, and I totally saw Eliza Doolittle’s point: I could've danced all night. (Metaphorically of course, crime writers not up for dancing very much.)Lawrence Block @LawrenceBlock 2 hours agoA fine time at MWA’s Edgars dinner. But one recalls Samuel Johnson’s observation on Milton’s Paradise Lost: “No one ever wished it longer.”
And now we all just need to write more books and get nominated so we get to go again.