Me and Jack Reacher, at the podium
Thursday began with a squeak and ended with a squeal. When I staggered down to the hotel’s informal breakfast/snack/happy hour space for coffee to inject into my veins, I startled two Loyal Readers who weren’t expecting an individual they knew by photographs to materialize down the steps. Fortunately, I’d done my hair since doing a similar, if less coordinated, stagger for tea an hour earlier, or my zomboid, frizzle-headed appearance might have frightened them into a Conan-Doylian apoplexy.
The day continued at a run: moderating a panel on “Living in the Past” (panels here have names from song titles, often very obscure song titles. Obscure to me, at any rate.) that I arranged around the personal and the professional—starting with how each writer got into his period, and continuing through means of researching 12th century England (Jeri Westerson), 14th century France (Sharan Newman), the Twenties (Rennie Airth and Charles Todd), or 2nd World War London (James Benn).
After the signing that follows every panel, Val McDermid came to drag me to lunch, when I could catch up with Val and her wife Kelly, a small-house publisher, the kind of break that makes BoucherCon possible for those of us who see friends once a year. Then back into the fray, with a 3:00 panel on something (I was never quite clear about the subject of “It’s Only Make-Believe,” although it seemed to have to do with research.) Then a meeting with web maven Vicki and the inimitable MJ Rose about some promotion we’re contemplating for next year, making us late for a dinner with the Letters of Mary web group. But they were gracious ladies and gentleman, and gave me gifts while pelting me with praise (Oh stop, stop, please; what, you’re stopping?) And I slipped away while they were wrangling about the bill with the waiter (I did remember to leave a contribution under my bread plate) so I could be at the opening ceremonies as I’d promised, albeit an hour late.
And it was a good thing I had rudely left, since three minutes after I walked in, my conversation with Harlan Coben (showing him my daughter’s wedding photos) was interrupted by my name being called from the podium. I looked around, not knowing what I had done but knowing that I had no book out in 2007 so I was not up for any awards, but my waving hand was answered by an urgent hand-waving summons to the front, where I was presented with a plaque declaring me the winner of the Jack Reacher award.
Crimespree’s web site says about this award:
With the permission of Lee Child we’ll be giving this award out every year. It is an editorial award but we like our readers input. Not only must this book be a fast and entertaining read that you’d recommend to anyone BUT must also be an author, while highly successful continues to give back to the mystery community (readers, writers and organizations) in a selfless manner.
So since I didn’t have a book, I take it that they think I myself am fast and entertaining (one can but try, she said humbly) and I give back in a selfless manner. Ah, little do they know that it’s all about the selfish with me, I’m just good at making people think I do it for them, rather than for myself.
Anyway, it was an absolutely unexpected prize, and a considerable honor, and if I had a photo I’d put it on my site. But I don’t, so you’ll have to imagine LRK, gobsmacked and more then a little confused, looking at the plaque and letting out some incoherent thank you that, as I began this post with, came out something like a squeal.
Thank you, Crimespree, and Jon and Ruth Jordan, and all the rest of you. Jack Reacher and I will do our best to live up to your expectations.