Signs and Corners

If you follow me on Instagram, you’ll know that the Saturday night before last, at precisely 1:44am, a framed print I have hanging above my desk that says Something wonderful is about to happen suddenly fell off the wall.

I was at the bottom of a bottle of wine and into the second series of my West Wing re-watch, and after a long, dark and dull start to January (plagued by the plague *coughs*), I wanted it to be a sign that something wonderful was going to happen, and not merely that Blu-Tac is an ineffective material for hanging picture frames.

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I was in Paris in July 2016 when my friend Erin sent me a text message from the CWA Daggers shortlist announcement. I knew Distress Signals was on the longlist for the John Creasey New Blood Dagger, but I had no expectations that I’d advance any further. Erin promised me she would text either way so when my phone beeped, I presumed it was with a ‘Hard luck’ message – but she was texting to say I’d made the shortlist.

Growing up, devouring every crime novel I could get my hands on, the same two awards kept popping up on the About The Author pages: the Edgars, awarded by the Mystery Writers of America, and the Daggers, awarded by the Crime Writers Association of the UK. So this, for me, was A Very Big Deal and probably the highlight of my writing career.

Last Tuesday afternoon, I got another message from Erin, but this one was completely out of the blue and totally mind-boggling. This time, she was texting to tell me that The Liar’s Girl had just been nominated for the Edgar Award for Best Novel. What?!?!?

Some context: the Edgar awards, named for Edgar Allan Poe, are awarded each year by the Mystery Writers of America to “the best in mystery fiction, non-fiction and television” and are “widely acknowledged to be the most prestigious in the genre”. If the Edgars are the Academy Awards of crime fiction, the Best Novel category is the equivalent of Best Picture. A judging panel of 8 whittled more than 500 entries down to a shortlist of 6 and The Liar’s Girl is – miraculously – on there.

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I’m fairly sure I’m the only Irish author nominated this year and I’m pretty sure I’m only the second female Irish author ever to be nominated in this category. (Tana French is the other, for Faithful Place.) Previous winners of Best Novel include names like Raymond Chandler, Stephen King and – anyone who knows me will know what a big deal this is to me – Michael Crichton. (Writing under a pen name because he was still in med school, but STILL.) More recently, the winner of Best Novel was Flynn Berry, who wrote a crime novel so good – Under the Harrow – I broke my lifelong rule of not taking a pencil to books because I simply had to underline some of her stunning sentences.

Because of all this, I’m typing this a whole week later and I’m STILL muttering, ‘I can’t believe this has happened’ and periodically checking the Edgar shortlists online to check that I’m still there.

The ceremony is in New York on April 25. Stand by 24/7 Instagram updates from the City In Which Catherine Definitely Won’t Sleep Because She’ll Be Too Overwhelmed And Excited.

Writing books for a living is a wonderful but weird job to have, and it can be an emotional rollercoaster. My Inspiration Project partners in crime, Hazel Gaynor and Carmel Harrington, and I often talk about corners – about how, at any moment on any given day, you can get a phone call or an email with amazing news. It could be something major, like a new foreign deal, or it could just be something nice, like being invited to a festival you’ve always enjoyed going to. But with your books out in the world, the possibility is always there. Last Tuesday afternoon, I was sitting on my couch sorting out my laundry on a grey, dull, cold January day when, without getting up, I turned a corner.

Something wonderful did happen.


Bargain alert! If you live in the UK or Ireland, you can download The Liar’s Girl in e-book for just 99p for a limited time.

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