A major highlight of my year came at Crimefest in May when I won the inaugural CWA Margery Allingham Prize for my short story "Acknowledgments". Among other lovely things, part of the prize was the commitment of Bloomsbury to publish the winning entry in ebook form, via their successful Bloomsbury Reader platform. Bloomsbury has - in less than thirty years- established a very impressive reputation, not least thanks to the Harry Potter series and a Man Booker Prize winner. So I'm honoured to announce that today is publication day of Acknowledgments, an ebook that includes not just the story, but rather more.
It seemed to me that it would be desirable to offer readers some "added value", given that the story itself is short of necessity, because of the word limit in the competition rules. Luckily, Bloomsbury agreed. So the ebook includes two other stories of mine of which I'm fond, and which I felt would benefit from a fresh life. There is also an essay by me about Margery Allingham and her short stories, and a generous intro from Julia Jones, biographer of Allingham and closely involved with the Margery Allingham Society I had a lot of fun writing "Acknowledgments", and I hope it will entertain and amuse you if you read it..
Allingham was a very interesting woman and an accomplished writer. I've wavered, if I am honest, in my views about her books over the years, and to this day I haven't read them all. But I rediscovered her, in a sense, while researching her for The Golden Age of Murder, and I'm becoming ever more enthusiastic about her writing. I'm hoping, with Julia's encouragement, to go on an Allingham tour next year and explore some of the locations of the books. And I devoted the prize money to acquiring some delightful first editions inscribed by Allingham herself - it seemed fitting, and much better for me and my family than lots of chocolate...
I've quite often been shortlisted for prizes that were won by someone else, and my sympathies are at least as often with those on the shortlist as with the winners. All the more so this year, because my wife Helena was one of the runners-up. However, we still speak occasionally...and I'm thrilled to say that her story will be published in Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine before long. This will be her first taste of publication as a fiction writer, but another one (a contribution to an anthology of stories edited by Ann Cleeves) is already looming. This leads me to my final point - competitions can be Very Good Things for writers, whether experienced or inexperienced. The CWA Margery Allngham prize will be awarded again next year, and more details for prospective entrants can be found here.