By Hilary Davidson
I'm in awe of my fellow Criminal Minds. Their fabulously twisted takes on the classic poem by Clement Moore are ringing in my ears. But this Christmas has been more about reflection than celebration for me.
The past year has been among the best and worst of my life. I managed to do something I'd dreamed of since I was a small child, which was publish a novel. But I also lost some beloved people. That started last Christmas Eve, with the death of my uncle Doug; he'd fallen into a coma six days earlier, and he never woke from it. To the doctors, his sudden death was a medical mystery; to my family, it was a shock and a heartbreak.
The following months were a painful time. My husband's great-aunt Bobby passed away. Another uncle — my mother's eldest brother — died suddenly from heart problems. Most shocking was the suicide of a childhood friend; his death still unsettles my mind. In the midst of this, a mole I'd had removed turned out to contain melanoma cells. That situation turned out fine, but in the context of what was going on at the time — the minor follow-up surgery was sandwiched between my friend's funeral and great-aunt Bobby's — it was difficult.
That it was a tough year personally made me especially grateful for all of the support I received — from family, friends, and a stunning number of people in the crime fiction community. It would be hard to describe what all of that kindness meant without veering into sentimental territory. I was overwhelmed by the sweetness of Dan O'Shea, who engineered a flash-fiction challenge on the subject of "Hilary's Scar" after my skin-cancer scare. I'm so grateful to him and to the other writers who wrote their amazing — and amazingly twisted — stories.
I'm grateful, too, to everyone who picked up The Damage Done. I have a huge, heartfelt thank you for everyone who read the book, wrote about it, came out to a reading, told a friend about the book, got their library to order it, or wrote to me. I'm so grateful to all of the stores who were kind enough to host me, who hand-sold the book to their customers, who made the novel their book-club selection. There are a few people whose exceptional kindness makes me simultaneously elated and teary: Jen Forbus, Jon and Ruth Jordan, Steve Weddle, Chris F. Holm, Dave Zeltserman, Lesa Holstine, Linda Fairstein, Rebecca Cantrell, Dennis Tafoya, Sophie Littlefield, Bobby McCue, Linda Brown, Keith Rawson, Megan Abbott, Lauren O'Brien, Holly West, Kathy Ryan, Susan Shapiro, Trish Snyder... the toughest thing about naming names is that a blog post can only be so long before people drift off. Let me also just mention the great people at Forge — especially my amazing editor, Paul Stevens — and at my Canadian distributor, H.B. Fenn. Be warned: the acknowledgments for my second novel, The Next One to Fall, are going to run long.
It's been a rough twelve months, but it's shown me how fortunate I am to have such wonderful people around me. Thank you for all you've given me this year.