Flashback: Hail Margery!

From issue 9, November/December 2005

Hail Margery!

There is a woman of mystery. I believe she is universally loved. I know she is universally respected. When I think of the people within the mystery community I can go to with a problem or for advice, or maybe just a jaw, her phone or e-mail is one of the first to come to mind. I am not unique in this feeling. It is shared by thousands within the mystery community. That’s right, thousands. Her name is Margery Flax.

Margery Flax is the biggest fan that mystery has. She is one of the most efficient office managers in the history of mankind. Toiling away day after day in the national offices of MWA, Margery takes care of business and acts as den mother and confidant to the entire mystery community. She is our friend and our confidant. She is a guiding light.

I met Margery Flax at Bouchercon in Austin. She complemented me on a review I’d written (how she found it, I’ll never know) and extolled the virtues of MWA. I thought, “Wow”! We’d meet periodically over the next couple of years and even though I wasn’t a writer, conversations with Margery were often amongst the liveliest I had at any convention. She has a talent for inclusiveness that should be bottled.

Before the first issue of Crime Spree was off the press, Jon and I got a phone call from Margery. Margery of the MWA. She was enthusiastic about our new venture. She offered advice, suggested membership as an associate and gave us a sense of validation that helped to keep us going when the computer died with all of our files in it. In the year and a half since that conversation, we’ve become better acquainted. She’s supported and inspired me in the manner of a life long friend. I am grateful. I am glad Margery Flax is in our world. And as I said earlier I am not alone.

Ruth Jordan

A FREEZING SNOW BOUND NIGHT OUTSIDE THE BLACK ORCHID BOOKSTORE AND FOR SOME REASON, I’M HAVING THE BLUES. MARGERY APPEARS OUT OF NOWHERE, LINKS MY ARM AND SAYS…..US GANG LOVE YOU, YOU KNOW THAT AND WAS GONE

SIMPLE…..SHORT AND LIFE ALTERING

AND THAT’S HER STYLE, NO FRILLS, CUT TO THE CHASE AND DESPITE A MASSIVE WORKLOAD, A MOUNTAIN OF WRITERS TO RELATE TO, SHE MAKES EACH ONE FEEL……THEY’RE THE BEST…..NOW THAT’S ALCHEMY AND I SEE HER, THAT CHERUBIC FACE, FOCUSED WITH NIGH IRISH INTENSITY AND THOSE DANCING EYES, WE HAVE A MANTRA…..GOT A PROBLEM, SEE MARGERY……IT’S THE BEST HAIL MARY I KNOW…..I CALL IT ME HAIL MARGERY

SHE SHOULD RECEIVE THE BLACK RAVEN FOR SERVICES TO THE COMMUNITY

Ken Bruen

My first novel – FINAL JEOPARDY – was published in 1996. Bonnie and Joe welcomed me at Black Orchid as they have so enthusiastically done for so many of my sisters and brothers in crime. They are also great ‘hand-sellers’, and put me in the TBR piles of many of their loyal customers. I remember meeting Margery Flax at Black Orchid, where she quickly became a dear friend. One of my most vivid memories was Margery helping Bonnie and Joe man their booth at my first NY is Book Country, the event that used to be held on Fifth Avenue. While the line snaked around the block for Mary Higgins Clark, Margery was my personal PR machine, encouraging complete strangers to step up and chat with me and urging them to buy the book. She loves being in this crazy world of mystery and crime writers as much as we do, and her friendship and support have helped spread the word on many of our books.”

Linda Fairstein

When I was president of MWA I was pretty much hiding behind Margery. She told me where to be and what to do. She was the best. And she still is. What makes her special is not just the fact that she loves the job but also I believe because she truly loves the genre and the people who write the stories. She does whatever she can for them and you can’t beat that. I think she views her job as celebrating the mystery story.”

Michael Connelly

I’m crazed with a deadline, but how can I not comment on that whirlwind wonder that is Margery Flax? I think I met Margery at my first book signing at Black Orchid way back when DEAL BREAKER came out. Throughout the years, she has been all there, smiling her dazzling smile, full of praise. Margery probably has no idea how much her encouragement, especially during the early-Myron, not-so-salad days, meant to me. But it meant a lot. It still does.”

Harlan Coben

“I’ve known her both as an author contacting HQ and as a chair for the Edgar nominations. What I like about her is her good spirits and her willingness to find answers for us. And it’s equally important for a national organization like Mystery Writers of America to have someone up front, a voice that presents the face of the organization. Margaret Maron and Noreen Wald, Charles Todd and Renee Gardner, and all the other officers and board members over the years run MWA superbly, volunteers who serve their terms and then step back for the next slate to take over. They often go unrewarded and unthanked. The Office Manager on the other hand is continuity at HQ, the person you call when you forgot to send in your dues or need to know who is on which committee or how to get in touch with a member or any of the other “business” that frantic authors are in a hurry to conduct. Sometimes that cheerful voice on the line is also a life line, and I think that Margery has filled the position with flair and honesty.”

Caroline Todd

I think what I love best about Margery is that she is still a fan and is still a little starstruck. you’d think the last thing a woman who has to deal with like 3000 raging egos and fragile careers on a daily basis would want to do is go to signings and launch parties on her free time. but whenever I turn up at Black Orchid Books in N.Y. for a colleague’s launch or signing, there’s Margery, as excited and eager as any fan. What’s especially cool about her is that it has nothing to do with sales or status. She’s as likely to show up for a first time author’s signing as Michael Connelly’s or Laura Lippman’s. loving a writer is no easy task. just ask my wife. Margery loves a few thousand of us.”

Reed Coleman