Thursday, April 10, 2014

Best and Worst

 
I've been lucky. Four Bouchercons, three Left Coast Crimes and two Malices and I've escaped fire, flood and food poisoning so far.

In fact, it's much easier to think of potential best times than worst ones. San Francisco Bouchercon, where I checked in so late that the standard rooms were full and I got kicked upstairs to a suite with a balcony and a view of the bay?  Taking a trolleybus back to the hotel from the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame at Cleveland Bouchercon? The room party, post-Agatha banquet at Malice - thinking the last time I laughed this helplessly I got sent out of the classroom to consider my options . . .

But one memory has bubbled up from where it lives deep inside me, causing me to shiver sometimes still.

Only the thing is that this bad time was also a pretty great one. (He knew what he was talking about, that Dickens.)

The scene is Cleveland, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, October 2012. DANDY GILVER AND THE PROPER TREATMENT OF BLOODSTAINS got nominated for a Macavity award by Mystery Readers Journal. Yay! But I glanced at the shortlist and decided I didn't need to worry about an acceptance speech. Boo! But then I won. Yay/Boo!

On the one hand, I was chuffed to bits. I'd never won an award before and up on the stage, there were John Connelly and Janet Rudolph, and all my friends were cheering and I was in the same building as Jimi Hendrix's guitars, for crying out loud.

On the other hand, I took the mic, looked out across a sea of faces and swiftly rethought my "don't need to prepare a speech" thing. I froze like a surprise ice-age. I didn't thank anyone. Not my editor, agent, kind reviewers, friends who were still cheering. Wait - I did thank Janet Rudolph. But I thanked her for having such pretty hair.

I slunk off-stage to be greeted with supportive denials all-round. "You were fine; it was sweet; the acoustics are terrible anyway - no one could hear you." I swallowed it and got on with the party.

Only, the next morning, there was another best and worst moment. I met Mary Higgins Clark at breakfast time. And she said congratulations! Then she lowered her voice and went on "Boy, you *were* surprised, weren't you?" and twinkled in a very kindly, but still telling me straight that I'd made a chump of myself, sort of way.



So, in conclusion: here is my most serious piece of writing advice to anyone who hasn't been nominated for an award yet. When you are - even if the other people on the shortlist are Jane Austen, Albert Einstein and God - write some names on your hand.

You'll feel silly if people see you scrubbing them off in the toilets after you don't win, but it could be worse (and better) too.

13 comments:

Alan Orloff said...

I was there for your big moment in Cleveland. You really were surprised! Which made it all the more memorable.

Aimee Hix said...

The best speeches are always the surprised, flustered, I-didn't-prepare-anything-because-I-knew-I-wouldn't-win, breathless, gobsmacked affairs.

And Mary Higgins Clark darn well knows it too!

Robin Spano said...

I bet you were totally funny and charming anyway. I agree with Aimee. My favorite Oscar speeches come from the nominees who are shocked to win and stare doe-eyed at the lights.

kat tromp said...

HA! I was talking with you when they called your name! The look on your face was priceless (sorry, can't think of a better cliche right now). I've never seen anyone run so fast in heels before...
Best Moment Ever!

Meredith Cole said...

I'm sure you were fabulous! And you made the moment memorable... I hate the long "I'd like to thank the academy" speeches--they all just run together...

Kathy Reel said...

You are so hilarious, Catriona! If only there was an audio where I could listen to your post and hear your beautiful Scottish effects. I am quite sure that whatever you said was heartfelt and filled with your usual charm. I think it refreshing when someone is surprised to receive an award. Of course, it would have been a hoot to see you reading names written on your hands.

Susan C Shea said...

It helps to have a Scottish accent at times like that! But you've won so many times since then, and isn't THAT something great!

Lori Rader-Day said...

HILARIOUS. But I really couldn't hear your speech in the back. Mary Higgins Clark had a *really good seat.*

Catriona McPherson said...

Kat - I remember that. I was miles away, standing at the back!

Kristopher said...

Yeah, I couldn't hear much of anything in that place either, and I was only about half-way back.

But you looked beautiful and everyone could tell how happy you were to win.

Well deserved Catriona!

Anonymous said...

I was a first time attendee at Bouchercon in Cleveland, and I was on that trolley back to the hotel with you. I remember you told those of us riding with you that your award was going to get its own pillow to sleep on that night!
Congratulations on all.
Anne Edwards

Sara J. Henry said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Sara J. Henry said...

You were fine, seriously! I was there!