Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Sheffield Calling

I must be mad. It’s 1 a.m. here in England, I have spent much of the night out drinking with the tremendous writer Martyn Waites (The Mercy Seat), and now I’ve finally returned to my hotel room in Sheffield, so that I can deliver this news: the recipient of the British Crime Writers’ Association’s 2006 Short Story Dagger Award is ... Robert Barnard. His winning tale, “Sins of Scarlet,” appeared in I.D.: Crimes of Identity (Comma Press), edited by Martin Edwards.

I will try to write a fuller report on this event after I sober up, and get some sleep. For now, I have just a few notes to share.

Among the attendees at this award presentation, held during the Off the Shelf Literature Festival, were Peter Lovesey, who headed the Short Story Dagger judging committee; CWA chair Robert Richardson; author and CWA press officer Zöe Sharp and her charming husband, Andy; ex-CWA chair Danuta Reah (aka Carla Banks) and her husband; Barnard and his wife, as well as Short Story Dagger nominee Stuart Pawson. Crime-fiction critic Ayo Onatade, who with Lovesey and I selected this year’s winning entry from more than 100 short stories, was unable to attend due to work commitments. And Ken Bruen, whose yarn “Loaded” (from London Noir, edited by Cathi Unsworth), had hoped to participate in these festivities, experienced a flight problem coming from Italy and was ultimately unable to appear.

Lovesey remarked that all of the five crime stories shortlisted this year were excellent, and he read aloud segments from each. In fact, his speech was both amusing and enlightening, as he talked about the art of writing short stories at some length--an art with which he has a good deal of personal experience.

(Hat tip to Jiro Kimura of The Gumshoe Site for pointing out the Martin Edwards correction.)

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