LUCY BURDETTE: We writers have some really special moments and one of them is getting nominated for an award. (Right now, Hallie's book COME AND FIND ME is nominated for the Mary HIggins Clark award, and Rhy's NAUGHTY IN NICE is nominated for a Malice Domestic's Agatha award for best historical novel, and my story "The Itinerary" is nominated for an Agatha for best short story.) One of our good New England friends has a book nominated for an Edgar best first novel--as you've heard in other blog posts, we'd all kill for to land an Edgar. Instead of wallowing in envy, we're so thrilled for Steve. And as he's going to tell us, there's nothing better than the days and weeks before the winner is announced.
STEVE ULFELDER: While waiting for a panel at Bouchercon 2011 in St. Louis, I struck up a conversation with a guy who looked even more overwhelmed than I was by the
massive conference. (No mean feat, that - I'm easily overwhelmed. It's my
We had a lot in common. Like me, the guy was from Massachusetts. Like me, he'd recently seen his debut novel published. And like me, he was - I remember this great line - "waiting for the parade to come by my house." Unspoken follow-up: It would be unwise to hold your breath waiting for that particular parade.
The guy turned out to be Leonard Rosen. His debut was the brilliant All Cry Chaos. And half a year after that Bouchercon meeting, the two of us are up for the Best First Novel Edgar.
Funny thing, publishing your debut. It's the biggest moment of your life. People tell you you're pretty great. You are queen or king for precisely 24 hours (release day) plus the duration of your launch party.
The wheel keeps rolling. The machine grinds on. The next batch of writers, debut and otherwise, get their turn. Their reviews are (at least) as good as yours, their blurbs (at least) as impressive.
So you take one last glance out front just in case there is a parade going past (there isn't), then do what writers do: plop yourself in the chair and work on another book. A better book.
As it turns out, Len Rosen and I have become friends. We bump into each other at panels, conferences, and festivals, and I'm always happy to see him. Len, who has the right perspective on life in general, is quick to point out the true value of an Edgar nomination: It serves as validation
from folks you very much admire that your book is good, that it does stand out.
And boy, do this year's Best First nominees - my competition, I guess, though I (naively?) don't view them that way - stand out. I read them all, starting with All Cry Chaos, and damn are they fine books. Edward Conlon's Red on Red, David Duffy's Last to Fold, and Lori Roy's Bent Road are utterly different from one another. And they're all ridiculously strong.
I'm honored that Purgatory Chasm is among them.
Here's the part where you roll your eyes while I insist I truly mean it: I feel like I've won by being nominated. This week's Edgar Awards in New York will be a blast, icing on somebody's cake, but it's the nomination that made my year.
Knock it off with the eyes. I mean it! Truly!
After all, I got a nice bump in sales. I've received congrats from writers I admire. I'll benefit from the Edgar Finalist Author tag for the duration of my career.
Which, when you think about it, means I got a parade after all.
Steve Ulfelder is an amateur race driver and co-owner of Flatout Motorsports Inc., a company that builds race cars. In addition to being nominated for MWA's Best First Novel Edgar, his debut, Purgatory Chasm, has been named Best First Mystery of 2011 by RT Book Reviews. His second novel, The Whole Lie, comes out May 8.
Our own Hank Phillippi Ryan will be moderating a panel of the Edgar best first nominees this Wednesday--including Steve!