The Agatha Banquet was funny and inspiring. many of the speakers acknowledged that Malice Domestic 2009 was almost cancelled due to the dire economic situation, but that everyone renewed their efforts to make it a success.
There was a sense of camaraderie to the whole weekend - like brothers (& sisters) in arms, committed to preserving and celebrating the traditional mystery. Elaine Viets was the toastmaster for the evening. She spoke movingly of the support and encouragement she received from the community when she suffered a series of strokes two years ago. That had been my first Malice and I remember being so impressed by the concern and efforts to help an author in a difficult time.
Nancy Pickard was the guest of honor. She has a quiet, effective sense of humor and is very inspiring. I still quote from her Agatha acceptance speech of two years ago when she talked about studying her craft of writing. She was an accomplished author who had 20+ books to her credit, but she wanted a challenge and pushed herself to write outside her usual genre. The Virgin of Small Plains was the result. Saturday night she described her visits to 49 libraries throughout Kansas, since January. Even in the tiniest, most economically depressed towns, she found a civic pride in having a library, in the celebration of the written word. She got a standing ovation - much deserved.
The Agatha winners were all excited and humbled by their awards - and all seem genuinely touched that they had been selected by fans for this recognition. I've never been to Love is Murder or Mayhem in the Midlands - the Southern Half goes to those conferences - but this is my third year at Malice and I'd sign up again in a heartbeat.
Malice is a small, super-friendly, well-organized convention with all the cozy/traditional writers that we all adore and it's easy to fit right in. I also couldn't help but laugh when I walked through the lobby area of the event hotel - at what other national convention do you find so many attendees sitting around reading? How fun it is to be with others who love the written word!
And for a group who loves to read about murder and mayhem, it's also a group who is constantly cracking jokes and laughing out loud.
I'm on a panel tomorrow at 12:30 pm - then will head back home -- with dreams of Malice XXII already in my head
Congratulations to all the Agatha award winners!
Best Children’s/Young Adult, The Crossroads, by Chris Grabenstein for Random House.
Best Short Story, The Night Things Changed, by Dana Cameron for Penguin Group.
Best Non-Fiction, How to Write Killer Historical Mysteries, by Kathy Lynn Emerson for Perseverance Press.
Best First Novel, Death of a Cozy Writer, by G.M. Malliet for Midnight Ink.
Best Novel, The Cruelest Month, by Louise Penny for St. Martin’s Press.