Edgar Week in New York

I love New York. Sharing it with friends and family makes it even better. And that’s what I got to do this past week. I feel a little like Cinderella today. You know, if Cinderella was closer to 50 than 40 still had to do her workout, pay the bills and unpack her suitcase. I’m going to go all fan girl here, this rundown of last week is from me to my friends and may be a little lengthy.

I’m going to begin this tale in front of our hotel as we were waiting for a cab. Just behind us was a lovely couple in Black Tie. She looking slightly nervous, he looking quite proud. Jon said, “I think they must be going to the Edgars.” I replied, “It can’t be the only event in New York tonight.” Three hours later Dori Hillestad Butler walked to the podium to receive the Edgar for Best Juvenile Mystery and I knew Jon was right. We later got an opportunity to congratulate her. In her acceptance speech Dori recalled the first time she heard of the Edgar Award and how it immediately became something she dreamed of. Watching this young woman reach her dream was a special moment. Edgar is always full of them.
Has been for 65 years.
When did I first hear of Edgar?? The book was THE ONION FIELD. The year was 1975. The venue was the back of a paperback novel that began my affair with the contemporary crime novel. I never really knew Edgar. He was an award I looked for at the back of books. If someone had secured one of these it was a plus but never necessary for purchase. In 1987 I received a care package from my Mom and Dad. Amongst the treats was a book with an inscription from my Dad. “Read this, the lead character reminds me of you.” The book was A IS FOR ALIBI. I was about to get hot and heavy with the mystery genre. Reading more and more exclusively within its definition. Finding more and more books. I fell hard for Hammish Macbeth, wanted to be V.I.. Safely from my reading perch I traveled with the genre, admiring both the classics and debuts. The year now is 2011. I’ve sat at the Edgar banquet for a second time. I have become a fan not only of the work but also of the people who support it. MWA is high on that list. The publishing world a magnificent enigma. How I got here I don’t really know. The joy of being here? It will never go away. In the Grand Ballroom of the Hyatt on Thursday night I was one of hundreds of people who felt that way. Margery Flax coordinated a very special evening. Dan Hale orchestrated a delightful week. Kris Montee put together a beautiful program. I met a lot of people Thursday. Two I feel I’ve known forever and yet don’t know at all. Steve Hamilton and Duane Swiercynski both have spouses as special as you’d imagine. I’m so happy for both of these men. To see their work honored by their peers. Heck I was happy for everyone nominated. The category of best novel brought back a lot of memories for me. Six outstanding books. Everyone of them a treat to read. A choice that would have been impossible for me to make. I smiled at the idea of Harlan and Laura and Steve sharing this evening though. I have to admit it. I’ve been eavesdropping on their friendship for close to twenty years now. This seems somehow impossible. It seems like just yesterday that I stumbled across the AOL Hardboiled board and joined in a chorus of people celebrating and talking about crime fiction. It seems like three hours ago when we welcomed Michael Connelly to the Women of Mystery Chat to talk about his new book. So on Thursday I dressed up a little and shared another day in their lives. A piece of mystery history. Me, the reader. I got to be at the biggest party of the year. As I caught up with Laura and shared a laugh with Tom Franklin’s wife, I felt in a dream. As I cooed over Dana Cameron’s shoes and Roseann Coleman’s dress, I felt rather out of body. As I caught up with Kate Flora and wished Jeff Deaver luck, I thought about what remarkable life I have. Friends Judy and Clair met up with us afterward. I got to chat with Mary and Sarah and I got a too brief moment with Maggie. I saw Alison and Jason and Megan. I spoke with Oline and Donna. It’s all a blur. For this community isn’t a fantasy life. It is the biggest part of me. My love for these books has led me to a place where I do try to champion them. It’s led me to a world where writers scrambling for words ask my opinion. It’s led me to a world where not a day goes by when I don’t plot out some sort of exposure with someone for something to do with mystery. It’s not a coincidence that Jon and I had our first date at a Steve Hamilton signing. The mutual love we share for this genre has opened up both of our lives and made us better people. We are amongst the happiest couples I know. So after a swanky evening and fantastic week in New York I am remembering giving Sara Paretsky a big hug and hearty thank you for all she’s done. I am remembering my beautiful friend Margery coming downstairs for a nightcap in comfortable but stylish shoes. I am remembering Laura’s sleek style & awesome biceps and adding more weight to my arm regimen. So I cannot equate myself with Cinderella, for although the ball is over the glamor continues. I’ll read Pelecanos and Krueger this week. I’ll interview Julia Spencer Fleming. I’ll call my friend Jen Forbus and see both Reed and Margery later in the week. What was I doing there? I don’t question it anymore, I simply rejoice that I’ve found this world and Jon both. I know it’s home.