Just back from New York and the Edgar awards. I didn’t win. Didn’t expect to, since every other book in the category was a blockbuster bestseller from a major publisher. There was one other nominee whose book was a debut: Lisa Ballantyne, from Glasgow (only Americans are eligible for the Best First Book award). There was a New Zealander, Paul Cleave, and a Brit, Alex Marwood. Marcus Sakey, an American, was up for his seventh book.
And there was Stephen King. Every airport and drugstore bookshelf I passed had a copy of Joyland.
But, despite, or even because of, my underdog status, I was treated like a celebrity. My new friend Sara J Henry (the Vermont-based author of Learning to Swim and A Cold and Lonely Place) took it on herself to steer me by the elbow and introduce me to Lori Roy (Edgar winner for her first novel Bent Road and Edgar nominee for her second, Until She Comes Home), and Lee Child (of the Jack Reacher series), Chris Pavone (last year’s Best First Novel winner) among others.
When I met fellow Canadian Louise Penny, she did the same, pressing my hand into her publisher’s and other writing friends.
With all that attention, I began to think, hey, maybe I do have a chance here. Being in the spotlight, even briefly, can do that, I guess.
But there you go. Alex Marwood won. And having read her terrific book, I think the judges chose well. She’s a lovely person, hilarious and smart. Kudos to her! Simply being there, in a tux with the treasured red “Nominee” tag was a once-in-a-lifetime experience.