The Raven Award, which is presented by the Mystery Writers of America, is one of my favorite awards.
And the reason is purely selfish. I had the honor of being presented this award in 2013, a thrill that never ends. I have my Raven placed prominently on my dresser so that each morning when I see it I never forget the prestige and pressure that comes with this honor.
So I feel a kinship with each person who is awarded a Raven, which recognizes outstanding achievement in the mystery field outside the realm of creative writing.
This year, two Ravens will be awarded to three people—each of whom is passionate about the mystery genre.
Jon and Ruth Jordan, founders of Crimespree magazine, will be awarded a Raven.
The Jordans, who met at a Bouchercon in 1999, have chaired or co-chaired and planned numerous Bouchercons through the years. We have them to thank for the outstanding Bouchercons in Baltimore (2008), St. Louis (2011), as well as others. They already are in the planning stage, along with Erin Mitchell, for the St. Petersburg Bouchercon, scheduled for 2018.
They also are the co-founders and organizers of Murder and Mayhem in Muskego, a crime-fiction conference set in a Milwaukee suburb that this year became Murder and Mayhem in Milwaukee.
In addition, Crimespree magazine sponsors the Crimespree Awards.
The other Raven winner is Kathryn Kennison, the founder and “the heart and soul” of Magna cum Murder, a well-regarded Midwestern mystery conference that celebrates its 20th anniversary in 2013.
Back in 1993, Kennison suggested a three-day mystery conference in Muncie, Indiana. She envisioned a “sedate weekend affair” with about 65 people and maybe three or four authors.
Boy, was she wrong.
That first conference ended up with 265 registered guests including 40 authors, and the festival has only grown since then.
Guests of honor have included Alexander McCall Smith, Mary Higgins Clark, Donald Westlake, Sara Paretsky, Michael Connelly, Harlan Coben, Sue Grafton, Lawrence Block, Louise Penny, Ruth Dudley Edwards, Charles Todd, Jeffrey Deaver, William Kent Krueger, and John Gilstrap. It has retained its roots as a fan festival.
Previous Raven winners include Aunt Agatha’s Bookstore in Ann Arbor, Michigan, Molly Weston, The Mysterious Galaxy in San Diego, Centuries & Sleuths Bookstore in Chicago, Once Upon a Crime Bookstore in Minneapolis, Mystery Lovers Bookstore in Oakmont, PA, Kate’s Mystery Books in Cambridge, MA, The Poe House in Baltimore, MD, and myself.
THE ELLERY QUEEN AWARD
MWA also will present its Ellery Queen Award, which was established in 1983 to honor “outstanding writing teams and outstanding people in the mystery-publishing industry.”
This year, the Ellery Queen will go to Charles Ardai, editor of Hard Case Crime, which debuted in 2004 as an homage to the great pulp fiction paperbacks of the 1950s and 1960’s.
Those years are considered to be the golden age of paperbacks. Those also are the books that helped shape and influence many generations of crime writers as well as the genre itself.
Launched by Ardai and Max Phillips, Hard Case quickly established its impact on the crime fiction world.
Domenic Stansberry’s The Confession won the Edgar Award for best paperback original and several other Hard Case authors have been nominated for Edgar Awards through the years.
Hard Case has brought back into print forgotten novels by Donald Westlake, Erle Stanley Gardner, Harlan Ellison, Pete Hamill, and Lawrence Block.
Since it was launched, Hard Case has published more than 100 books, many of which have been nominated for awards. He also published Joyland by Stephen King.
He also acquired the rights to the lost James M. Cain manuscript The Cocktail Waitress.
Previous Ellery Queen honorees include Mystery Scene magazine, Joe Meyers of the Connecticut Post/Hearst Media News Group, and Poisoned Pen Press, published by Barbara Peters and Robert Rosenwald.
The Raven and Ellery Queen honorees, along with the presentation of the Grand Masters will be held during the Edgar Awards on Wednesday, April 29, 2015, at the Grand Hyatt in New York City.
Congratulations to all the Raven and Ellery Queen honorees.
PHOTOS: Top, The Raven himself; center, Jon and Ruth Jordan; bottom, Kathryn Kennison