Champagne was quaffed in Chateau Edwards last night, and for good reason. I'm happy and proud to report that Howdunit has been shortlisted by the Mystery Writers of America for an Edgar award. The Edgars are the longest-established and most prestigious of the US crime writing awards, so this news certainly represents one of the highlights of my career. It's timely to mention once again how grateful I am to all the members of the Detection Club who helped me to compile the book. And indeed to the families and estates of deceased members, ranging from Agatha Christie to Jessica Mann, who allowed me to reprint pieces they'd written in the past, which fitted in splendidly with the key themes.
Putting this book together was one of the most interesting challenges of my writing life. What was striking was the utterly unexpected way that the project grew and grew and grew. The book also developed into a work that is, I think, quite unlike any other publication. This distinctiveness is something that one always hopes for - it doesn't, of course, always work out, but this time I was in luck. The idea was to celebrate the Detection Club's 90th birthday and to raise funds to ensure that it continues to thrive. So the contributors (and the editor, of course) were to donate their contributions without a fee. I assumed this would mean that we'd only have a limited number of contributors, and that was my original vision: a quite modest and compact project. But the enthusiasm of everyone to take part was quite wonderful. As a result, the book took rather longer to turn into a cohesive whole than I'd originally envisaged, but it was definitely worth it. A slim volume became, during the course of 2019, a very big book indeed...
The Edgar awards will be celebrated on 29 April, but I will not be in the US this time, for obvious reasons. A shame, but inevitable. I am very lucky, however, to have wonderful memories of my previous visit to the Edgar awards, five years ago. It was a marvellous occasion, made all the more unforgettable by the fact that The Golden Age of Murder actually won.
Win or lose, though, I'm honoured to join that relatively small band of British authors who have been nominated for an Edgar more than once. And I hope that the nomination will encourage more readers to sample Howdunit and to enjoy the collective wisdom of some of the best writers in the business.