Anyone who has spent time around mystery writers knows that, overall, they are a generous bunch.
Yes, of course, there are a few who are not. But most mystery writers you meet are quite nice, happy to meet other authors and readers.
I have witnessed writers thanking fans for reading their books and immediately introducing those readers to another writer they might like.
And, as many of us witnessed a couple of weeks ago, mystery writers’ concern for each other goes beyond the printed word.
This was proven during the 71st annual Edgars banquet, held April 27 at New York's Grand Hyatt Hotel.
Incoming Mystery Writers of America president Jeffery Deaver was in the middle of introducing the presenter who would announce the Edgar for best young adult novel when he passed out. He managed to brace himself as he went down.
One minute Deaver was reading a poem called “The Death of Reading,” about being a writer:
“I’ve got what I think is the very best job.
I have no commute; I can dress like a slob.
I get paid to make up things—isn’t that neat?—
Just like at the White House and 10 Downing Street.”
And the next minute he was on the floor.
Immediately, Deaver was surrounded by other authors who held his head and comforted him while others were on the phone calling for help. The rest of us had the good sense to sit still and not get in anyone’s way.
The Edgars were halted for about half an hour until the EMS arrived, and Deaver was able to walk out on his own with the medics. As soon as it was possible, MWA executive vice president Donna Andrews swung into action and flawlessly—and smoothly—led the rest of the evening.
The happy news is that Deaver is doing fine and posted a thank you and update on his Facebook page. Although he has canceled his U.K. tour for his new novel, The Burial Hour, he plans to make his Italian tour in June.
But the rush to help Deaver wasn’t the only moment of kindness at the Edgars.
Just after Mary Higgins Clark had given out the aptly named Mary Higgins Clark Award to Charles Todd, she began to make her way down, when it appeared she needed a bit of assistance.
But let me refer to author Brendan DuBois, who had a closer view: “At [the] Edgar Awards banquet, I saw a sweet and charming sight: Mary Higgins Clark was on the stage, having just given out the award named for her to Charles Todd, and then as the very talented and sweet 89-year-old author slowly maneuvered her way down the steps, the awesome Lee Child instantly got up from his table and assisted her down,” DuBois posted on his Facebook page.
DuBois also was on the stage with Deaver, adding “there were a number of folks there, but Lyndsay Faye sticks out in my mind, her glamorous gown spread on the stage, sitting right next to Jeff, cracking jokes and calming everyone down.”
DuBois, whose latest novel is Storm Cell, continued: “Both events sort of struck me as a metaphor for the mystery community. We write, edit, sell, and read stories about some of the most despicable acts of humanity, but we are one close-knit community, and we tend to look out for each other and lend a helping hand—whether the literary one or the real one"
DuBois added, “I'm glad and honored to be a part of it.”
I certainly agree with him.
Organizing the Edgars is no small task and each year it goes well. Even when the unexpected happens, the MWA team was ready.
For a list of all Edgar winners and nominees, visit our blog.