What a week! On Tuesday night, I was awarded the Hammett Prize for best crime literature in the U.S. and Canada. On Thursday, I was named editorial page editor of The Free Lance-Star, where I've worked the past seven years. I'm buying lottery tickets.
The Hammett was a shock. We got to the hotel in Somerset, N.J., on Monday night. We checked in at the New Atlantic Independent Booksellers Association desk. When I got back to the room, I saw that my name tag said "Howard Owen/Oregon Trail," rather than "Oregon Hill." Ki-yi-yippi-yi-ya. Then, in lots of conversations with folks from the International Association of Crime Writers, which gives the award, I got no hint that I might already be a winner. Usually, you get some kind of wink or nod beforehand. I told Karen that I'd put my odds at about 100-1.
I had, however, written a speech beforehand, at the urging of IACW, which wanted all the finalists to write one so that, if you won, they could use it in their newsletter. I wrote it and didn't look at it again. Exercise in futility. I told myself I'd glance at it beforehand, just in case. Then, sitting at a table with IACW folks and other finalists, it occurred to me that it might be a little tacky to be going over one's acceptance speech, one that probably never would be read, at the finalists' table.
So, when they called my name, as I was finishing off my dessert, I managed not to faint and stumbled to the rostrum to more or less read the speech I was glad the IACW and Karen had urged me to write. It is the most important recognition I've received as a writer, by far, and it made 24 years of slogging away at typewriters and computers more than worth it.
As for the editorial page editor's job, I am humbled and honored that a newspaper as fine as The Free Lance-Star has that much faith in an old coot like me. I will try to make them proud.
Monday, July 8, 2013
The Philadelphia Quarry comes out in late July.
Here are book events I've signed on for so far. Come see me if you're in the area.
Quail Ridge Books, Raleigh, Aug. 11, 3 p.m.
Fountain Books, Richmond, Aug. 13, 6:30 p.m.
Chop Suey Books, Richmond, Aug. 23, 6:30 p.m.
Griffin Bookstore, Fredericksburg, Aug. 24, 2 p.m.
Richmond Public Library, downtown, Oct. 4, 7 p.m.
Cumberland Co. N.C., Public Library, downtown branch, Oct. 8, 7 p.m.
James River Writers Conference., Richmond, Oct. 19-20
Richmond Woman’s Club, Jan. 20, 2014
I'm also going to the Bouchercon mystery writers conference in Albany, N.Y., Sept. 20-22 and the New Atlantic Independent Booksellers Association event in Somerset, N.J., where they'll announce the winner of the Hammett Prize.
And the first draft of Parker Field, the third Willie Black mystery, will be done by the end of this month.