I’d like to get a bit personal today.
This time last year, I was high on a cloud because I had been selected to receive the Raven Award from the Mystery Writers of America during the Edgar banquet.
I shared the Raven honor with the lovely people from The Mysterious Galaxy in San Diego, which has been owned by Terry Gillman, Maryelizabeth Hart and Jeff Mariotte since in 1993.
It was a glorious night for The Mysterious Galaxy and myself. I also was so happy for the authors who took home Edgars that night.
The Raven remains a career highlight for me. I felt—and said so in my acceptance speech—that receiving the Raven meant my work was respected by the board and by the mystery writers.
So enough about me.
It is now time to pass the baton, or in the case, the Raven.
Figuratively, that is.
I have the Raven in a place of honor and you are not getting it back.
So I offer an extra heartfelt congratulations to Robin and James Agnew, at right, whose store Aunt Agatha’s Bookstore in Ann Arbor, Michigan, will take home this year’s Raven. I know how you’ll feel taking that little bird home with you.
Aunt Agatha’s is celebrating its 22nd year in business this year, no small feat in this day of online orders. A couple of years ago I did a story on the store’s celebrating its 20th anniversary, which is linked here.
The store has stayed in business because, like other independent bookstores, its staff knows its clientele. They can intelligently recommend books that they know their customers will like. And that personal kind of service never goes out of style.
The Agnews have no plans for an anniversary party this year. They are going to wait until “the big 25,” Robin Agnew told me in an email. ye are
“Otherwise things are chugging along as they always have though weirdly when it's busy, it's REALLY busy, and when it's slow, it's REALLY slow,” said Robin Agnew in the email last week.
“All the things we've been doing - book clubs, author visits, etc. we plan to continue. I'm looking forward to what's next, what great writers are coming up, and what kind of work writers I already love will continue to create,” she said.
Authors who have been coming to Aunt Agatha’s for years speak highly of the store.
“There’s no one more important to an author than the bookseller. Who else will make sure that your beloved novel gets placed personally into a reader’s hand?” said William Kent Krueger, whose Ordinary Grace is up for an Edgar in the best novel category.
“Among all the fine booksellers out there, Robin and Jamie Agnew are at the top of the list. Their store, Aunt Agatha’s, is such a splendid place, particularly in spirit. When a crowd gathers for a book event there, it’s like a little festival. I love the store, and I dearly love those two folks who own it,” Krueger added.
Needless to say, the Agnews are delighted about the Raven.
“We are unbelievably pleased to be honored by the writers whose work we love to sell and share with customers and friends,” Robin Agnew said in the email.
“Mysteries have been a touchstone for me all of my life starting with Nancy Drew and they continue to be. The friends we've made and the authors whose careers we've seen grow from specks to big success has really been a delight as well,” she added.
Congratulations to all.