Wednesday, April 6, 2011

My Life With Edgar

ROSEMARY: Today we're visiting with Stefanie Pintoff, whose extraordinary debut novel In The Shadow of Gotham won the Edgar for Best First Novel 2010. Stefanie shares some thoughts on how things have changed - and how they've stayed the same - since winning the mystery community's most prestigious award. STEFANIE: It was a year ago this month that Mystery Writers of America awarded my debut mystery In the Shadow of Gotham an Edgar® Award for Best First Novel. I never expected Edgar himself – a ceramic painted bust of Edgar Allan Poe – to come home with me. But today Edgar sits on the third shelf of my living room bookcase with my name emblazoned on his gold plate. My subsequent books describe me as an “Edgar® award-winning author.” And Edgars night remains the most thrilling moment of my still-in-its-early-stages career. Now that it’s a year later? Sometimes it still doesn’t feel real – but yes, it’s affected my career in ways that are significant. Some call the Edgar the “Oscar” of the mystery awards field. And it began to affect my career the moment my name was announced as a nominee. You see, many bookstores, libraries, and websites feature each year’s nominee books. Avid mystery readers will make a point of trying each and every book nominated. So the nomination alone was a huge attention-getter for my book. My sales went up, as people – both ordinary readers and reviewers – decided to give my writing a chance. The win itself attracted similar attention that otherwise would never have come my way – not to mention establishing additional credibility for me as a writer as I move into future projects. But in other ways, nothing has changed. I like the way I’ve heard fellow Edgar®-winner S.J. Rozan talk in Zen-like terms about the experience of winning an Edgar. Before Edgar: chop wood, carry water. After Edgar: chop wood, carry water. She’s right. The work is the same. The standards are the same. The frame of mind should be the same. Award or no award. Edgar stares at me every day as I write. He reminds me of those who have encouraged my writing efforts in the past – and those who continue to do so. Keep improving. Make each scene, each page, each book better than the last. I’m well aware that some of my favorite authors also launched their careers with a best first Edgar® and went on to have amazing success – Michael Connelly, Steve Hamilton, Laurie King, David Liss, and Jonathan Kellerman among them. But if these past first-novel winners impress us today, it’s not because of that award. It’s because of the way they continued to write, to improve, to get better with each effort. After all, you're only as good as your last book – Edgar or not. Best of luck to all 2011 nominees! Stefanie's new book is Secret of the White Rose and it is just as compelling as her Edgar-winning debut novel. Visit her at http://www.stefaniepintoff.com/author.php

23 comments:

jenny milchman said...

Just wanted to say hi to Stefanie! I am a big fan of her work, and historical fiction fans I meet always buy her series...there is something about old New York, which Stefanie really brings to life.

Jan Brogan said...

Welcome Stephanie,

I love your advice -- chop wood, carry water. And the inspiration you take from your Edgar.

Julia Spencer-Fleming said...

Congratulations, Stefanie! I have to say winning the Edgar for Best First Novel really does seem to be a strong indication that the author will go on to have a long and distinguished writing career.

Steve Hamilton once told me the thing about winning is that he now knows, with absolute certainty, how his obituary will begin: "Edgar-award-winning Steve Hamilton died yesterday..."

Stefanie Pintoff said...

Jenny, Thanks so much, always, for your support!

Stefanie Pintoff said...

Thanks, Jan. Yes, I thought it was a perfect way of putting it the moment I heard SJ Rozan say it!

Stefanie Pintoff said...

Thanks, Julia! Steve and I (or maybe all of us who plot death & murder for a living) must think alike. Because when the Edgar win sunk in, I realized: I'd finally achieved something big enough I knew it would headline my obituary.

Hallie Ephron said...

Welcome to Jungle Red, Stephanie -- You are in good company indeed. But it sounds as if you're keeping her head screwed on and your nose to the grindstone.

A few years ago I wrote a piece for THE WRITER magazine about that year's Edgar first nominees. They were all amazing and talented. The winner was Alex Berenson, who's done so well since. John Hart, who lost then but won two times after. Gillian Flynn - that book, sharp objects, still haunts me. Cornelia Read whose work makes me laugh and cry at the same time. And the hilarious Steve Hockensmith with his Holmes on the Range.

Just getting nominated is a huge deal; winning is, well, amazing.

Maryann Mercer said...

I am such a fan :o) In the Shadow of Gotham hooked me with the first few sentences. The sequel was even better! As a reader, I love characters with meat on their bones and brains in their heads. I love to wrack my own brain trying to beat the cops to the solution. In a really good book(like Gotham), I don't. As a writer, these things inspire me to work hard at my craft. Edgar has found a good home :o)
Now I have to go looking for your next.

Pj Schott said...

Great philosophy.

Stefanie Pintoff said...

Hallie, I'm actually one of those mystery readers who tries to read all of the nominees in advance of awards night. You're right - each nominee is amazing and talented, and every book has something fantastic to offer.

Stefanie Pintoff said...

Maryann and PJ, Thank you - I appreciate the kind words!

Deborah Crombie said...

Stephanie, I'm going to look for your books! And I love your (and S.J.'s) Chop Wood, Carry Water analogy. The recognition is lovely and gratifying, but it doesn't change what you DO at all. In fact, I think the expectations generated by winning or being nominated for awards sometimes makes the job harder . . .

Hank Phillippi Ryan said...

Stefanie--I'm such a fan..you know that! And I'm in awe of your research your skill at putting us in another time...


Can't wait to read White Rose! (Can you tell us a bit about it?)

Rebecca said...

I was excited to see the guest post for today, because I bought Stefanie's debut novel in hardcover several years ago, something I never do as a rule. But I was initially drawn by the art, then the premise, then I opened up the book and read the first page and said, "Self, this one is worth getting now." And I devoured it fairly quickly, and then wondered when the next one was coming out.

I have an academic background in history focusing on the same period (my emphasis was on WWI Britain), so I always gravitate to well-written historical novels of that era. Stefanie's work quickly joined my list of favorites, and the reason why is for her ability to take us into the setting as if we're right there, experiencing early 20th century New York. Plus, she draws us into the minds of characters who exemplify the various currents of cultural experience in that era. I can't say how important that is for me--one of the most off-putting things for me as a reader of historical fiction is to see 21st century characters masquerading as early 20th century people; it's just not realistic.

I hadn't realized you'd won the Edgar, Stefanie, so congratulations, it's well-earned! I'm looking forward to picking up your next books soon, I've been on a budget of late, so my new book purchases have basically stopped over the past ten months. Thanks for sharing your experience of winning the Edgar, and how it's impacted your life since.

Rhys Bowen said...

I loved the first boook, Stephanie and looking forward to finding time to read the second.
I wouldn't mind Edgar-winning author on my tombstone either.

Stefanie Pintoff said...

Deborah, Hank, and Rhys - I'm a fan of all *your* books as well! For Secret of the White Rose, I wanted to explore the anarchist threat that was part of early 1900s NYC – creating a time of uncertainty much like the present, where we live with the constant threat of terrorism. In my book, the judge presiding over a sensationalist trial is murdered. The defendant, an anarchist, had been accused of setting off a bomb at a Carnegie wedding – but instead of killing millionaires, it killed passersby, including a child. The judge’s murder appears to be the latest in a series of bombings and assassinations, and the entire city is on edge as Ziele investigates, helped by early criminal profiler Alistair Sinclair. The research for this particular book was fascinating, and there are obvious parallels between the anarchist attacks of the early twentieth century and the terrorist attacks of today.

Stefanie Pintoff said...

Rebecca, Thanks so much for your comments - which I especially appreciate given your background! You mentioned that you were initially drawn to my book by the cover art ... I was so lucky there, as Minotaur's David Rotstein came up with the perfect design.

Stefanie Pintoff said...

Julia, Jan, Roberta, Hallie, Rhys, Deborah, Hank & Rosemary -- Thanks to all of you for inviting me to join you today. It was a pleasure ...

Coach Stores Online said...

hello !

coach outlet said...

coach outlet handbags's special design and fashion is certainly and so eye-catching, I hope you are able to get much more attention towards the Cheap Coach Crossbody. As a fashion and modern lady, you can never have too many bags but Coach, Coach is a great leather handbags brand. coach outlet store online have different look according to different designer concept. The Bags that you can buy in Coach Outlet Online tend to be affordable, feel comfortable knowing that they are simply promoting traditional Coach Handbags.

louis vuitton uk said...

This louis vuitton uk for sale belongs to the sounding just what are termed as Louis Vuitton vintage best sellers, many other products and services for the reason that range appearing companies. in fact, Louis Vuitton is one of the most famous fashion design master.he opened the fist suitcase shop called after his name. If you buy bags and purses of the latest new designs from the Louis Vuitton Outlet now, you can enjoy special discounts. What else are you waiting for?

louis vuitton outlet said...

The choices are likely to be basically countless seeing that Louis Vuitton Outlet occurs with the help of completely new and also incredible concepts once in a while. The changes to the risks of LV may be less than the outside world imagination, louis vuitton bags outlet Store competent talent management, each doing his own job, chief designer understand fashion,Louis Vuitton Jewelry, chief operating officer, the President can understand industry will be more focus on strategy implementation, a don’t understand the President can be in fashion around the help of people make up this defect, and use of the advantage of management. Make constance hand, is a head “cash cow”. LVMH across fashion, jewelry,Louis Vuitton Work Bags, perfume, cosmetics, retail and the DuoGe field, the group earning 20 billion euros ($), LV annual income up to 6 billion euros, a brand for group contributed to a 30% income. Analysts estimate,louis vuitton for sale, LV business profit margins as high as 50%, is the LVMH’s growth engine. The actual innovative and unique Lv purses are constructed with AAA quality leather and are offered at greatest affordable results.

coach outlet store online said...

coach outlet store online are all designed with classic features, which are the perfect combination of fashion and function, so they are your ideal choice to select bags. They can show your elegance definitely. Everyone is welcomed to pick up whatever he or she likes in the Coach Outlet Store freely and easily. The satisfactory service will bring you a surprise. Welcome to the website and enjoy the fashion world now ! Lots of people carry the crossbody bags as they are strong, soft and flexible. Coach handbags on sale at the Coach Outlet Online Store can meet your requirements.