JAN: While Rhys and Hank were on their way to Bouchercon (Hank collecting yet another award, this time the Macavity for her short story "On the House"), I was at the Bloomberg Tower in New York at a reading for the anthology: I'm Going to College Not You by Jennifer Delahunty.
When I learned that I was one of TEN contributors who would read that night, I was worried. Several of the friends I invited didn't have children and I figured they'd fall asleep listening to excerpts from TEN essays about the parental insanity that ensues when sending kids off to college. I imagined an ENDLESS night -- the kind that keeps you eyeing the door -- because no matter how much you tell people to keep it short, it's human nature is to keep going on and on.
Boy was I wrong.
The reading lasted exactly one hour. Every single author was brief, funny and gracious. But perhaps the most gracious of all was Jane Hamilton. For those of you who don't know her, she's one of Oprah's favorite authors, a winner of numerous awards (like Hank) and she wrote -- among other New York Times bestsellers, Map of the World, The Book of Ruth, my favorite, The Short History of a Prince and the more recent Laura Rider's Masterpiece. Frankly, I was star struck. When it was her turn to read her essay, she got up, made a few self deprecating remarks, praised Jennifer Delahunty and her other friends from Carelton -- where they all went to college together, and sat down.
It was clearly done to support the author, while giving up her time to other essayists -- so the program would move swiftly. It was ego-less and classy. It was one of the most thought-provoking acts in a night that provoked a lot of thoughts.
So I'm wondering, guys, what's the most gracious act you've witnessed recently?? What bit of human nature has reminded you that humans can be pretty cool, after all?
HALLIE: I know this sounds weird, but to me the most generous thing an established author can do is read a newly published author’s book. I still remember the first time I met Lee Child was at a conference, who knows where, and he bought my book (!) which at the time I thought was completely amazing. I was bowled over when he emailed to say he’d actually read it (icing on the cake: he enjoyed it). Lee does this over and over for new authors, giving them a leg up, and it really is an incredibly gracious and generous gift.
JAN: I don't think that sounds weird at all. I think that's pretty amazing.
ROBERTA: That's pretty exciting Jan--I would have been starstruck too! I think there's a lot of graciousness in the mystery writing business. I've been struck with how it permeates Sisters in Crime. Maybe it's the way the organization was set up--to promote women crime writers, not any individual writer, but writers and unpublished writers as a group. those founding members had an amazing idea and it's carried through over the years. More experienced writers really do have a sense of duty about passing on the support they received when they were new.
RHYS: I'm just back from sensory overload of four days of convention, but I witnessed gracious acts all the time--established writers listening patiently as new writers talked about their first books, or when fans stumbled shyly through words of praise. I think we are an especially caring community. And of course Hank was gracious and modest as ever when she accepted her Anthony award for best short story (yes, her third award for this story!)
JAN: Welcome back Rhys. Anyone else have any stories of grace?? Come back tomorrow for True Crime Tuesday -- a scenario that could find its way into anyone of our thrillers!