It was hard to whine about the bobby pins jabbing my skull and the blisters forming from the stiletto heels when surrounded by the company of those who attended the 2013 Crime Writers’ Association (CWA) Dagger Awards ceremony in London. And the prosecco that decorated King’s place with flickers of gold upon arrival helped…
In the weeks prior to this night, my heart wanted to beat its way out of my sternum at the thought of being shortlisted for the Debut Dagger. Even after the awards were all said and done, I still waited for the phone call to tell me that there was a mistake and I wasn’t shortlisted after all. And on the outdoor patios of the pre-dinner reception, I chain smoked through the nerves and held tight to my boyfriend’s arm.
“Where’s Marie Hannan?” I wondered. Marie was another Debut Dagger nominee, an Irish American from New York who I’d become acquainted with after our names were announced at Crime Fest in Bristol, England this past May.
And watching Lee Child enter the reception was much like being back in elementary school. Us gals huddled close with whispers; “Should I go say hi?” “Can I ask him for his autograph?” “He’s so much taller in person!” “What a hunk, hubba hubba.” Minutes later, the incredible sweetheart that is CWA Chair Alison Joseph took my hand and led me to Mr. Child. My heart raced as I gripped my liquor-less orange juice. Now, what I meant to say was “My landlord is a huge fan and would love an autograph, and could you kiss it, please?” But what came out was something along the lines of “Kiss me.” And he did. I’ll never wash my face again… Introducing the proceedings was none other than Gyles Brandreth; crime writer, broadcaster and former Member of Parliament. Even those who attended the dinner who had no interest in crime writing/reading (ie, my poor John) couldn’t help but crack up at his witty and hilarious introductions. The laughter rolled in the room over meals that consisted of foods I could not pronounce.
And with that came the announcements of the winners for the following Daggers: The International Dagger, The Ellis Peters Historical Dagger, The Non-Fiction Dagger, The Dagger in the Library, The Debut Dagger, The Short Story Dagger and The Diamond Dagger, presented to Lee Child by last year’s winner, Frederick Forsythe. Also announced were the long lists for the Gold, Ian Fleming Steel and John Creasy Daggers.
Now, not trying to get ahead of myself in the past few weeks, I’d finally perfected my ‘I hope the winner trips and falls’ smile. But I found myself sincerely thrilled for winner Finn Clarke (Call Time). She was a delightful woman and I enjoyed chatting with her after the awards. And the ‘Ahs’ and ‘oohs’ did come after all, but not because there were any trips or falls, but because for the first time at The Daggers, there was a draw. The tie came in The International Dagger with Fred Vargas’ ‘Ghost Riders of Ordebec‘ (translated by Sian Reynolds) and Pierre Lemaitre’s ‘Alex’ (translated by Frank Wynne).
Also among the attendees I had the pleasure of meeting was Canadian author Louise Penny, and what a doll she was. I’d met so many wonderful people, so many that it was impossible to register all their names in my brain. My smile left aches in my face that carried into Tuesday. As I write this today, two days after the awards, I look forward to returning the e-mails of a few of these people (a couple of them agents). The night was a complete success, even for us who didn’t win the Daggers. Many friendships that were meant to be were formed and much inspiration was to be gained by those who are climbing the literary ladders of accomplishment. But worry not…I will return next year to try again. You can count on it…