Saturday, 17 October 2009

There, there

mostly sunny, cool, temps 40

But mild enough to walk to the nearby theatre for the Anthony Awards.

I didn't win - but I sure had a gas. Indeed, so far I have a perfect record. Three noms, three losses. But you know, as much as I love to win, and there is always that little 'ooof' when I hear someone else's name, I know how much mad good luck I've had and do not demand more of the universe.

Having said that, there was one issue that actually hurt quite a bit. I debated saying anything, but thought that this is certainly part of playing in the big leagues...or perhaps not in the big leagues

Michael Connelly won - in a fabulous field made up of William Kent Kruger, Sean Chercover, Stieg Larson and me.

I began to feel a little annoyed when Connelly, as guest of honor, was actually in the lobby when the ceremony began and needed to be called to the front to receive his guest of honor statue...he meandered down the aisle and up the steps and gave a brief speech. He seemed bored. Then when he won our catagory, he again wandered up. Now you must understand, everyone else bounded up - gave gracious talks mentioning the other nominees and the great honor of the award, and seemed thrilled, giddy even, to have won.

Connelly seemed, again, bored. Saying 'thanks'. He did say some nice things about SJ Rozen who was MCing the event. then he sat down.

As one of the nominees I was...I was thinking of saying disappointed, upset, baffled by his apparent ingratitude. But I realize I need to be honest. I was angry. Probably have no right to be, and perhaps an over-reaction due to a certain fatigue. I wasn't actually angry that he didn't mention the other nominees - but that he seemed not to care about winning an award that meant so much to me. I felt like standing up and shouting, 'If it means so little to you, then give it to someone who does care.'

It just didn't feel at all good...a kinmd of entitlement. Especially funny after SJ Rozen had commented that the previous winner had been almost faint with excitement and gratitude and how sad the day will be when she's won so many awards she just says 'Thanks'.

And that's what Connelly did. Not to be funny - but because he didn't seem to be able to muster more enthusiasm.

but, after the awards - about 5 minutes later, I went over to him, put out my hand, smiled, introduced myself and congratulatd Michael Connelly. He looked bored, shook my hand, said 'thanks' and looked away. He obviously had no idea who I was and didn't care.

That also hurt. It was very humbling. Not enough to lose, I must now feel two inches tall.

I also debated whether I should tell you so clearly how I feel. part of me thinks I should just tell you about the good stuff, or pretend to a thicker skin than I have. But then I realize it would'd be much of a journey together - and you have been so generous with your kindness - that I felt I really needed to show warts too. I recognize that my pain at this encounter comes from my own insecurity. My hopes that Michael Connelly, a huge name in crime fiction, might know me. But he didn't. And he didn't seem to care.

Anyway, am at the airport, waiting for the flight to Toronto...trying to shake off a funk. I know I'll feel better by the time we arrive. These things are short-lived and part of the price of competing. And living a somewhat public life. You expose yourself, become vulnerable. Sometimes it feels most of this glorious Bouchercon did - but sometimes it doesn't feel so good.

Like most jobs, writing is the whole package. I do want to say that I really don't mind losing. On Thursday when both the Macavity and Barry awards went to someone else, I was delighted...not a problem at all.

The kind of casualness of connelly is what hurt. Just one more award. One more fan congratulating him.

I suppose he's tired too.

But the rest of the day was fabulous. Breakfast with my friend Dan Mayer, of Barnes and Noble. Then lunch with my friend Robin Agnew, who owns and runs the Independent Mystery Bookstore, Aunt Agatha's in Ann Arbor. wonderful store.

Then Robin and I went up to our panel...a riot! Robin moderated, and sitting with me were the great Willian Kent Kruger (known to his friends just as Kent Kruger) and the terrific Sean Chercover. Our topic was the importance of independent mystery bookstores. We ended up trading war stories of life on tour. Kent and Sean were hilarious. Robin moved it along and asked fun, smart questions.

The Nikki taped an interview with me.

Then headed over to the Anthony awards...and did I mention what happened there? Never mind.

I'm already feeling better. Flight about to leave. Speak to you tomorrow. Michael is still in Montreal - going to his McGill Medical 50th year reunion! And coming to Toronto by train tomorrow. I miss him. Wish I could just curl up in his arms and he'd take the hurt away. Probably good for me to be able to do it for myself, shrug it off. Count my considerable blessings.

But it will be good to hold him. And have him hold me. And say, 'there, there.'

Speak tomorrow. Oh and also want to make sure I congratulate Jim Huang, of The Mystery Company in Muncie, for organizing one of the best Bouchercon's ever!!! Fabulous.


Bev Stephans said...

Dear Louise,

Just remember, "The bigger they are, the harder they fall"! I would think that you could never not get excited about winning such a prestigious award. Oh well, C'est le guerre!

Have a great reunion with Michael and stay energized.


Shelagh D. said...

Dear Louise, You are such a class act lady. You have every right in the world to be angry - anyone would be as a result of the crassness on Michael Connolly's part. In the "whatever it is worth" category, I have bought and read all of your books. Haven't read any of Michael Connolly's and now probably won't since he seems to have reached the pinnacle of his own adulation and certainly doesn't need another reader of his books.
Have a wonderful reunion with Michael, and with Trudy when you get back home. Michael will say "there, there" and Trudy will love you in the only way doggies know how - totally unconditionally.
Shelagh D.

Marjorie said...

Dear Louise,

First of all, my admiration of you grows and grows and this post, with its 'brutal telling', is just another reason why.

If an author is bored with awards and attention from readers, etc., then why did he even attend Bouchercon? Why not just stay at home? There's an interesting question in there and I have no doubt that you will take your feelings about that author and the awards and turn them into fodder for something in the next book or the book after that. Ego run amok is always an interesting subject.

As someone who is alone in the world, I can't tell you how much I crave the touch of someone who loves me and lets me cuddle up in his arms. And you are going home to that. And what could be better? Nothing that I can imagine. But that is beside the point.

I think that you did get an award. The Marjorie Award for excellence in writing and in human-being-ship. For those who don't know, I sent Louise something to B'con. First of all, knowing her fondness for gummi bears, I found, not bears, but gummi alphabet letters from the same company which seemed very appropriate for an author. And they came in an American version and a European version, so I ordered her one package of each. And then, to commemorate the Barnes & Noble main selection of "The Brutal Telling", I had a coffee mug made up from the artwork that they used in the stores. I knew I wasn't going to B'con this year, (hopefully next year?) so I mailed the gift from Connecticut to Virginia to the lovely and talented Merrily who agreed to bring it to Louise in person. And so, as I said, the Marjorie Award was presented on Friday. And I share all that just to show you what you inspire in others. No other author moved me to do such a thing this year.

More awards from your peers will come to you, Louise, but I know that the temporary sting of what happened will dissolve away. And, hey, you are still on the New York Times best seller list!

--Marjorie from Connecticut

Judy said...

Dearest Louise,

I read your blog and wanted to let you know that while Michael Connelly is a huge success, I've never been able to get through his first book! Not saying he's not a talented man (must be by the droves of books he turns out), just saying that I think that is what sometimes happens to authors -- they start turning out the books faster than you can read them, and maybe that fast fame goes to their heads. I was a huge fan of Danielle Steele in her "beginning days" -- I couldn't put her books down. Then somewhere along the line, the stories became oddly similar and I came to realize that she was merely churning out books probably to meet the deadline from a publisher, and had completely lost her "gift" -- this is just my opinion.

What I had wanted everyone in the room at Murder By the Book last week in Houston was this: I have read many, many authors but your writing is truly unique.....not only do Three Pines and the characters who live there come alive to me (I can see myself at Clara and Peter's having dinner, or enjoying cafe au lait at Gabri and Olivier's bistro), I can NEVER guess the culprit in any of your books. I'm always thinking, "it's Peter!.....then another time, "its the daughter", then "I know it's Ruth!", and on and on. What I'm trying to say is your talent is extremely unique -- anyone I suppose could churn out stories -- but you put life into every character, every plot, right down to the last page and you just can't say that about alot of writers. You can tell your heart is in each of your books.

Now that you're home, relax, enjoy your time home with Michael, take a deep breath and never forget that you are a true winner in your fans' eyes.

Judy Tilbury

Merrily said...

Hi Louise,
I don't know if this will help, but tonight at the Bouchercon auction, I dropped beaucoup bucks on the "You've Been Mugged" package, so that I could get all your hardback books and the Three Pines cafe au lait mug! Imagine my joy when I realized that the mug said "Vive Gamache" on it, and had three little pines as well. Of course the books were the important thing, so perhaps I should add that I had already bought a first of "Still Life" and of course, "The Brutal Telling."
Meeting you was one of the highlights of Bouchercon for me, you were so warm and lovely. I think true greatness is maintaining such kindness no matter how "Big" one gets.
As to Michael Connelly, I have enjoyed his books and so will tell myself that he had a migraine, or was absorbed by some burden, or was otherwise Not Himself. But if he didn't know who you are, it's his loss, not yours!
Hope you got home safe, and hope to see you at the next mystery conference! Merrily

Larry Marshall said...

Louise, at the rate you're racking up accolades and awards, you may become more jaded towards them as well. I once had a job where, initially, I loved all the 'perks' of the position. After a while, though, "been there, done that" became more my situation as I boarded another airplane for an event that most people would love to attend.

I love Connelly's Harry Bosch series, but not all great writers are great people. That's what makes you so special.

Cheers --- Larry

Dena said...

Oh, you are so real! and, that poor man must live in his own lonely little world. You won the right Michael!

I have read all of Mr. Connelly's books, and though very good, none compare with yours. From the very first, your characters had me wanting to know them, and knowing them, loving them. I can picture all of them in my small town! They too, though fictional, are real.

Perhaps this was just a life lesson-what NOT to do when your name becomes known. Although I must say, I think you'd have more respect for your name than he obviously has for his.

And WHEN your name becomes a household word, keep being real. It's the part we love.

Thank you and keep them coming!

Anonymous said...

fyi - EW's review of his latest book wasn't kind to Connelly. So there to him. Love your characters...and your writing, and your openness.

By the way, Jim's Mystery Company is in Carmel, IN. Boucheroncon was held in Muncie, IN a few years ago. Thanks for thanking him.

Louise Penny Author said...

Hi all,

Oh, I can feel your 'there, there'...and it feels wonderful. Thank you SO much. And thank you for being so kind about my feeling so vulnerable and hurt. Seems silly, to be hurt by a perfect stranger - but there it is.

And while I was hurt by a stranger, I have been deeply comforted today by them. by you. But, of course, I don't think of any of you as strangers, but as brothers and sisters...some of whom I have had the great privilege of meeting.

Yes - I accept the Marjorie Award...though it is eaten. I wonder if that could be considered disrespectful. Oh well. What an amazingly thoughtful and kind gift that was, marjorie. And, true to form, I do not have your personal email with me to thank you...but I was hoping you'd write so I could thank you. Stunning gift!!!

As was Judy's beautiful Texas mug, which I took to the lounge to fill up with coffee.

I feel lucky beyond anything I have the right to expect. In the gifts you take the time to think about and give me - but mostly in the great gift of your kindness...all of you.

And if any of you need it, as we all do I suspected every day, let me just say, 'There, there.'

Barb said...

Louise, besides adding to the already given "there, there's" let me share something that a friend told me. Once I e-mailed her and was practically frothing at the mouth over something that another person had said, and this friend, who is from the South, told me that when I get in that state, I should do as they in the South do, and just mutter to myself, "Well, bless her/his heart!" LOL So I do say that now, and it does work, because it usually makes me giggle.


Louise Penny Author said...

Hi Barb,

Wonderful. And bless his heart.

Vicki Lane said...

Hi Louise,

Blees his heart, indeed! I was as annoyed as you were by MC's bored attitude. Glad to see I wasn't alone.

And many, many congratulations on all the success your latest is having! Well deserved!!


duraknit said...

Dear Louise,

I've read all your books. I don't even know who Michael Connolly (Connelly?) is. So there.


Bobbie said...

Dear Louise,
I saw you at B'con, shook hands with you, attended one of your panels and loved it, met you last year at Muncie Indiana in real life at Magna cum Murder but had been a fan since the first...and am so very glad I did not have the time to attend the Anthony awards you speak about.

I am sad and sorry you did not win, because I do feel your books are in a class by themselves--some of the best writing out there in our world. And a beautiful lady, a class act, writing those words...and the one of yours which was nominated this year, was well above the others nominated. But that's just me.

Now, about Mr. Connelly. First of all, thank you for having the gumption to tell us your feelings and opinions about this. Takes true courage to do that, blog or anywhere else since we often feel we 'need to be nice even in bad stuff'. I think honesty is by far the best policy, and thank you for that. I have been a Harry Bosch fan (Michael Connelly's decades-long running series,) from the first one, have re-read some for pleasure, and still love them. I've enjoyed the Lincoln Lawyer ones too though not as much as Harry. But though I am a fan, I am not happy about how he did the awards event! I did attend his long guest of honor interview by Michael Koryta, that was pretty well spoken, though he did seem tired, he tried to answer well and thoughtfully..but seemed 'slow' so I thought maybe not feeling well or something. I saw him moderate a panel about Edgar Allen Poe on Friday that was astonishingly well done as moderator and one of the highlights for me of the convention-and I do NOT even LIKE Poe! But the panelists were all major stars and maybe that made him more vivacious? Who knows.

Explaining all this, so you know I am a big fan of his, and a big fan of yours (though moreso, since you visit in my home daily with your blog, and in my mind with your kindness and skill and humanity). I thank you for this blog, it has made me think, made me wonder, make me happy to know you and sad for what happened.

To not know and/or acknowledge other nominees is rude, crude, and socially unacceptable. There is no excuse or reason. Period.

Thank you for being at Bouchercon, Louise, and for being a wonderful person.

p.s. some FYI facts about places mentioned, etc.: Muncie Indiana, is where Magna cum Murder Mystery Convention is held yearly (though this year was not because of Bouchercon date and nearness in geography and time). There has never been a Bouchercon in Muncie, I don't believe. Jim Huang's wonderful mystery bookstore The Mystery Company is in Carmel Indiana which is near Indianapolis.

Dan Conaway said...

Dear Louise,

I'm impressed by your willingness to be so open about your feelings in this regard, especially when talking about a such a big personality in the mystery community. And they're YOUR feelings, after all, so please don't take this as a rebuke. But I feel it makes sense to say a word in Michael Connelly's defense. I don't know him personally, but for as long as I've been in the publishing business I've been aware of two things: that Michael Connelly is among the most generous writers alive in terms of helping out up-and-coming novelists; and that he is painfully shy. I was at the ceremony too, and what you saw as indifference felt, to me, like awkwardness, embarrassment even. And when he received the award for Best Novel, he said something telling: Echoing the Boucher biographer's line ("best way to be sure you'll win a prize is to write about the man the organization is named after"), Connelly said "an even better way to be sure you win is to be the guest of honor" and, almost as a throw-away, "the fix was in." It's a shame he didn't acknowledge you, Sean and Kent, other nominees there in the room--but my gut tells me it had more to do with embarrassment that (perhaps) the odds had been stacked in his favor.

I could be wrong at every turn here--I don't know, and again, I credit your telling us the truth of your experience... On another front, I want you to know that I attended the Dilys (?) Awards panel and thought it was the best panel of the weekend--the chemistry and wit and good humor on display was absolutely a joy to witness.


Marjorie said...

Dan, I an not Louise, but I appreciate your posting and sharing your impressions. And perhaps some time in the future Louise will meet Michael again and the circumstances will be a lot brighter for all concerned. Louise is herself so gracious and at that moment feeling a bit let down that I think her beautiful sensitivity was at its most vulnerable. Thanks for giving us another viewpoint.

--Marjorie from Connecticut

caryn said...

I am late to this as the friend I was sitting with at the Anthonys just referred me to the blog. We had talked about just what this blog is about at dinner that night after the awards.
It's not that everyone we wanted to win did-they didn't. But the pure joy of Julie Hyzy when she stepped up to get her award is what this should be. MC's behavior was sad. I was disappointed for each of the other nominees thinking at the time it was too bad that the award had to go to someone who cares so little about it!
Caryn in St.Louis

Louise Penny Author said...

Hi all, again,

Thank you so much for all your thoughts and comments. I don't expect my feelings to be perfect. But I thank all of you for what you said.

I do want to make one thing clear...I have won many awards and had more great good fortune than I have a right to. And I have heard other people's names called even more often. And applauded happily, heartily and without reservation - as I did Saturday night at the Anthony's. As I did many times Thursday night for other people.

I am never disappointed about losing.

I am hurt when a winner makes someone in his same category feel small, insignificant - like a loser. The problem was not hearing Mr. Connelly's name called. It was what he did with that singular honor.

But it has served as a terrific lesson - and I am sure he is a lovely man and one day we will be friends.

In the meantime, i have been given a great lesson in how not to behave, or even appear to behave. As Caesar said, justice must not only be done, it must be seen to be done. It is not enough for me to quietly feel grateful...but not show it. The small price for this level of good fortune is to clearly show others I am aware of how lucky I am. And to help others.

The sting has long gone, but the lesson remains...and perhaps this is more to do with me than him, in that it is a lesson I needed seared into me. Do not want others to feel as I did.

Rosiedog said...

I am not Michael Connelly's editor, but I do work for his publisher, so I'm not unbiased. If you've ever seen or met Michael before, you will know that he is an extremely quiet, modest person, whether he's receiving an award or a compliment. I can assure you that he takes the Anthony Award seriously, because he is serious about, and devoted to, the mystery genre and everyone involved in it. In a field happily full of collegiality and friendliness, I don't think you could find a writer more generous with his time (I've seen him spend half an hour with a stranger who asked him for writing advice), his praise, and his dedication to the craft and its fans and practitioners.

Personally, I'm a jump-up-and-downer, with far fewer occasions to do so than someone of Michael's stature and accomplishment. Different strokes, etc., but I try not to take offense when someone seems less excited than I would be. It is unfortunate, though I would also call it human, that he didn't recognize you, and that his way of accepting the award (which sounds identical in tone and brevity to speeches I've seen him give at other awards) seemed insufficiently enthusiastic. I'm sure, because he is indeed a lovely man, that he would regret disappointing you and the other commenters here. But I hope you and they will consider all he's done for the genre before painting him with the wrong brush.

Reagan Arthur

Jennifer Barth said...

I'd like to second Reagan's comments. I'm not Michael's editor nor do I work for his publisher. I don't know him well at all but have followed his career with admiration for years. Not only are his books terrific, but in my experience he has always been generous to and supportive of his fellow writers. While I can understand how his modest, lowkey demeanor might be misread as "boredom," the escalation to the attacks on his books (which I personally think are first-rate, and which clearly many other readers do, too) strikes me as extremely petty -- and the kind of behavior that brings everyone down. -- Jennifer Barth, Harper Collins