Mystery Men (and women)

Notes from the Edgar Awards:

1. I have never asked for an autograph in my entire life, but last night I made an exception: Donald Westlake was in attendance. I came prepared, having brought along my favorite of his Richard Stark books, Butcher’s Moon — an original hardcover we bought off eBay for $50. It is now worth much more. Especially to me.

At first I didn’t know if I could do it. He was sitting at a table with Dave Barry, Stephen King, and King’s entire family. Yikes. But while everyone was settling in, I decided to make my move. Westlake was chatting with another well-wisher, so I tapped Dave Barry on the shoulder and told him how much I enjoyed this past year’s Miami Herald Hunt. I think he was a little surprised to receive that particular compliment in a hotel ballroom in New York. He thanked me and we shook hands.

Westlake was then available so I went up and asked if he would sign my book. He was very gracious, and was pleased, I think, at my handing him Butcher’s Moon, which he told me was one of his favorites. I could have bent his ear for an hour or more at what his writing has meant to me: His Richard Stark books in particularĀ have taught me a great deal about the importance of clean, sharp, straightforward prose — writing whose jobĀ is, first and foremost, to tell a story. Thanks to him, I’m ruined for the many, many writers who enjoy dressing up their prose with frou-frou and curlicues. But I wisely decided to spare him all of that, and shook his hand and bid him a good evening. And floated back to my table.

2. It occurred to me only afterwards that I was about three feet from Stephen King, to whom I might have paid a compliment or two as well. But King didn’t need kind words from the likes of me: He was the guest of honor last night, inducted into the Mystery Writers of America as a Grand Master. As Westlake noted in his introduction, this honor was due perhaps twenty years ago.

3. I also met Robin Merrow Macready, who ultimately won the Edgar for Best Young Adult Novel. She’s been guestblogging at Cynthia Lord’s Livejournal about her Edgars experience. This marks the first time I’ve ever met someone who I only knew previously from reading her blog entries. Nice lady — I’m glad she won.

4. I am now the proud owner of an Edgar Allan Poe bobblehead.

5. I also lugged home about fifteen pounds of free books. I started Gentlemen and Players on the train ride home and was instantly absorbed. I’m itching to get back to it.

6. In my one truly doltish move, I approached author Nancy Springer believing she was Nancy Paulsen, head of Putnam Young Readers and the person who signed off on bringing Winston Breen to the masses. I wanted to thank her. She had no idea what I was talking about, which only makes sense seeing as she was the wrong person.

Luckily, she was sitting next to a Putnam Senior Editor named John Rudolph, who recognized my name: It turns out he was among the first to read the Winston Breen manuscript. He reported that the sales reps all really liked the book, and the cover. So presumably that’s good news. Hopefully that means they’ll convince bookstores to actually stock the thing.

7. Holy freaking crap, do I want to be nominated next year? Yes, yes I do.

Further reporting from the Edgars here.

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One Comment

  1. Erin
    Posted April 27, 2007 at 3:58 pm | Permalink

    Ooh, Donald Westlake! He is made of awesome.

       0 likes

One Trackback

  1. […] It was a hot day, but it was wonderful to walk around New York City again. The last time I was in, for the Edgars, everything I needed was within three blocks of Grand Central, so I didn’t truly get to reune with my former home. This time I dragged Susan over to restaurant row so we could dine at my beloved Delta Grill, home to some excellent and authentic cajun food. We shared crawfish popcorn with remoulade sauce, and I stuffed myself with a huge bowl of red beans and rice with sausage and chicken. A fine day all around — I’m not sure how much I accomplished, exactly, but I’m glad I took the train down. And now, the promised Winston news. Item one: We have word of the very first sale to a book club: The Junior Library Guild has purchased several thousand copies. This is obviously not bad news, but I wasn’t sure where on the scale of good news this fell. (I had never heard of the Junior Library Guild.) It turns out to be pretty good news. The JLG only buys a handful of titles from each company, so their choosing Winston is, as my editor put it, a real vote of confidence. […]

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