Peter Guttridge, one of my favorite novelists — I can’t say enough good things about his Nick Madrid series — is also a terrific critic and reviewer. Once, in a typically thoughtful review of one of my books, he said in passing that I was “weighted down” with American awards for crime-writing. I always liked that phrase because it sounded a little sinister, as if I had been fitted for a nice pair of cement shoes. But it also seemed to get at the way that awards can function as straw men. When people want to have a go at me, they often choose to have a go at the awards. “I would think that someone who has won X award would not make this error,” readers sometimes chide. Yeah, you’d think. But the fault, dear reader, is not in the plaques or statuettes, but in myself, that I am human. I make a lot of mistakes, an issue that will be front-and-center at the website when it’s updated later this week.
As noted here before, I’m more or less on hiatus from the Internet and it’s been grand. Read two terrific books in the past week — the new Sean Chercover and Ann Hood’s The Knitting Circle. I went to Atlanta for a cousin’s wedding and, shortly after a quintessential Atlanta experience — three miles, forty minutes, on Interstate 85/75 through downtown — stumbled out of the rental car and checked my iPhone. I had been nominated for two Anthonys, novel and short story. This came on the heels of the announcement, late Friday, that I had been nominated for the Duncan Lawrie Dagger for best novel and the Barry as well. So I was feeling pretty good. Then I found out twenty minutes ago, via email, that I’m up for the short story Dagger as well. To see myself on the same shortlist as Robert Barnard — well, I swooned a little.
I expect to lose all these awards. All! And that’s not poor-mouthing, as my Atlanta cousins might say. The competition is formidable and there is that perception that I walk around with an Agatha teapot dangling from one ear, Edgar on the other, while using Nero Wolfe’s capacious head for a purse. But, of course, I’m pleased. The proper response to an award, or a nomination for an award is this: “Yippee!” Then back to work.
But I’ll hope you’ll forgive me sharing the news here.