I had an extremely surreal moment at Dublin Airport last week as I waited for a connecting flight to Manchester after travelling back from the States. I glanced at my emails and found one sending congratulations, not for the Edgar win, but for something completely different. I was told I'd won a Lifetime Achievement award from the Short Mystery Fiction Society. Or, to give its full name, the Edward D. Hoch Memorial Golden Derringer for Lifetime Achievement. I must admit that for a time, I thought I was imagining this, while carried away on a wave of excitement after the Edgars. But I wasn't hallucinating and now I've had time to take it all in properly, I must say that this award is a source of great pride and delight for several reasons.
First, I look at the previous winners of the Golden Derringer, going back to 1999. The only previous British winner is the great Ruth Rendell (all the other winners have been Americans, including such notable names as Lawrence Block, Loren D. Estleman, Ed Gorman, Bill Pronzini, and S.J. Rozan). It's wonderful to be in such company.
Second, I knew Ed Hoch and he was a delightful man. He and his wife Pat showed me a number of kindnesses on our occasional encounters at Bouchercons. He was also a brilliant and incredibly prolific short story writer who wrote a wonderful story, inspired by Alice in Wonderland, for my anthology Green for Danger. We took part in the 1995 Bouchercon Mastermind quiz together - a photo of that memorable occasion is to be found in Marv Lachman's book The Heirs of Anthony Boucher - see above. It's a real privilege to win this award named in his honour. And I like to think Ed would be pleased.
Third, I really love short stories and reading the short stories of others, as well as writing my own, is a source of continuing pleasure. I've used the form to experiment and to try to develop as a writer and this has worked really well. They have brought me a few prizes and nominations, starting with my very first story, 'Are You Sitting Comfortably?', which was the first fiction I had any success with. To be recognised now by my peers in this way really is amazing.
Fourth, it occurred to me, once I'd got over my jetlag, that I've now won lifetime achievement awards for fiction (CWA Diamond Dagger and the Dagger in the Library), non-fiction (the Poirot award), scholarship in the mystery field (the George N. Dove award) and short fiction (the Golden Derringer). I must admit I find it hard to believe that I've been so lucky. It's something I never expected, even in my wildest dreams as a would-be crime writer, but it really is extremely gratifying . And truly humbling.