The Thriller

It's been a bit of a surreal weekend.

As most of you have heard by now, THE COLD ROOM was named 2010's Best Paperback Original by the International Thriller Writers Saturday night. I was overwhelmed at the nomination - and up against two very good friends, Shane Gericke and Rob Browne, both incredibly fine writers. I was a bag of nerves going into the conference too: I've never been nominated for anything, and I put a lot of unnecessary pressure on myself because I was really nervous about the whole thing.

Well, someone divine knew I needed to stop fretting, because Tuesday morning I woke with a whoppingly (soppingly?) bad cold. I was shocked they let me on the plane Wednesday, actually. I had to cancel all my Wednesday plans, and suck it up when I woke Thursday for my Craftfest class with Erica Spindler and felt exactly like hell. I had left my sparkle in the room. (Sorry, Erica, for being so scattered and blech!)

I made it through the day, but at the big cocktail party Thursday night, my voice started to go. By Friday, I had none. By Saturday, it was even worse - I was feeling okay, but mute. So the divine Toni McGee Causey moderated my panel for me.

Now, this was strangely prophetic on several levels. First, because of my nervous state, I told Randy I'd been praying for laryngitis so if I did win, I couldn't get up in front of all those people and speak, thus making a fool out of myself. Second, because in the new book, WHERE ALL THE DEAD LIE, Taylor is suffering from hysterical aphonia. She has no voice. I joked to my publisher that I was simply starting the marketing early.

And third, when I got choked up and started to cry on stage, I was able to mask it.

Yes, I cried. I am such a girl. I get overly emotional all the time, and this was no exception. To be honored by your peers, to be told your book was the best of the year, was utterly overwhelming.

But that's wasn't the only magic happening in New York Saturday night. Many of you know that John Sandford was my direct inspiration to start my writing career. I was reading the PREY series and three books in had this epiphany: I wanted to write a female Lucas Davenport. And so I did. Of course, Taylor is very different from Davenport on many levels, but I absolutely took the idea of a cop who was half rock star, half hero from those books. John's novel was up for best novel, and lo and behold, he won. Which meant things like this were happening Sunday and Monday:

Publishers Marketplace:

Sandford and Ellison Top ITW Thriller Awards

I really can't put into words what reading that headline did to me. Affirmation of my chosen career, a reward for the many hours of labor spent toiling away, the knowledge that I've done something only one other woman in our field has accomplished... (two - truth be told, they are a writing team) all combined with winning the award with my heroes in the room.... it was priceless.

And yes, I say heroes, because it wasn't just John there. Diana Gabaldon, my favorite author, was there too! When she congratulated me, I about melted into the floor.

But it was even more than that. ITW has been a part of my writing life from day one. I will never forget how excited I was when I got my deal just in time to add PUBLISHED AUTHOR to my name badge at that first, mythical Thrillerfest in Phoenix. To be honored by the very organization that has been nurturing my career from day one... well, you get the idea. 

My acceptance speech managed to thank my darling husband Randy (though I shouldn't have started with him, I got choked up immediately), my amazing agent Scott Miller, my incredible publishers Mira Books, my former editor Linda McFall, and the whole of ITW.

But let me take this moment to thank you. Because you read the books, bought the books, and gave me a career. Because you share the books with your mom and dad, your sister and brother and friends. Because you request the books be housed in your library, and tell your favorite bookseller that they need to carry the titles. Because each and every day, you reach out to me: here at the blog, on Twitter and Facebook, through email. Because of you, I am inspired. I have a writing career. And that's the most beautiful thing of all.

With love,