Once again, the Edgar Awards are upon us—that august night of crime and mystery when honors are bestowed, traditions celebrated, and champions of the genre feted. Tonight, authors, editors, and crime and mystery professionals will gather in the banquet hall of the New York City Grand Hyatt Hotel to hear the winners announced, and to toast those who have dedicated their lives to crime and mystery, just as the Mystery Writers of America have done for decades.
Ahead of the ceremony, we caught up with 20+ Edgar nominees, including the nominees for this year’s inaugural Sue Grafton Award. We’ve organized their responses into a roundtable discussion on the state of mystery and crime fiction. In Part I of the roundtable, the authors and editors discussed the definition of “crime” and what advice they wished to pass on to young writers. Today, they’re talking about changes to the genre in recent decades, misperceptions of mystery, and how to disappear.
Here you’ll find Part 1 of “The State of the Mystery” roundtable.
For a complete list of the nominees, click here.
HOW HAS CRIME FICTION CHANGED SINCE YOU STARTED WRITING?
Lisa Black (nominated for the Sue Grafton Memorial Award for her novel Perish): I’ve only been published beginning in 2005, so I’m not sure that much has changed. Since I began reading, or reading as an adult…I’d say the pace has picked up a bit, as if books now need to be pictured as blockbuster movies with constant action. Which is not a bad thing in itself but can be a bad thing if badly done…if that makes any sense.
Leslie Klinger (nominated for Best Critical/Biographical – Classic American Crime Fiction of the 1920s): I’ve only been writing for 20 years, and I think the big change was already underway—writing about (as Michael Connelly puts it) how the case works the cop rather than how the cop works the case.
Jacqueline Winspear (nominated for the Sue Grafton Memorial Award – To Die But Once): My first novel was considered “cross genre”—and I think that was probably accurate, and describes every book I’ve written since—they’re a historical fiction/mystery fiction hybrid. I think there’s more and more mystery fiction being written that also falls into other categories and could equally be described as powerful novels covering the political, environmental and social issues of today. And of course there’s comedy. Writers of mystery are breaking boundaries in the way that writers in other genres aren’t.
Pete Hautman (nominated for Best Juvenile – Otherwood): Novels have gotten a lot longer. Short stories are less widely read. The novella has all but disappeared. I think today’s readers are looking for a more immersive experience, and authors are putting more effort into backstory and world-building to accommodate that desire. It is not enough anymore to build a story on a puzzle and a personality.
Victoria Thompson (nominated for the Sue Grafton Memorial Award – City of Secrets): Since my first mystery was published in 1999, I’ve seen the enormous success and expansion of the Cozy Mystery subgenre and also it’s consequent “market correction” when publishers realized a couple years ago that they had flooded the market and pulled back. I’ve also seen the rise in popularity of the Thriller, which is often actually a classic mystery enlivened by explosions or car chases or other dangerous and exciting events. I’m sure the demand for more thrillers reflects the state of our society. When things are going well, we are satisfied reading “cozy” fiction in which evil is an aberration, but when things are not going so well, we need to read about horrible villains being foiled to reassure us that it is possible.
Mike Lawson (nominated for Best Novel – House Witness): Constantly changing technology obviously has an impact on modern crime fiction: computer hacking, cell phones, GPS tracking, DNA testing, etc. But what hasn’t changed, and never will, is the need for a writer to develop interesting characters and to write a story that’s captivating.
WHAT’S ONE THING CRIME FICTION GETS A BAD WRAP FOR?
WHAT’S THE TRUTH?
Mariah Fredericks (nominated for the Simon & Schuster Mary Higgins Clark Award – A Death of No Importance): That because they’re genre, they’re somehow shallow, cheap, or junky. Not “real literature” that captures an era or grapples with the complexities of human nature. Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy is one of the great novels of the 20th century. It’s heartbreaking. If I want to plunge back into the tensions and anxieties of the 70s, I’m more apt to pick up William Goldman or Ira Levin than say, Thomas Pynchon. I would bet people will be reading Louise Penny or Gillian Flynn far longer than they’ll be reading certain National Book Award winners. And some people will say that’s a sign of cultural degradation, but I don’t think so. When you write about crime, you’re tackling some of the most primal acts human beings commit. And you’re trying to convey the society in which those crimes occur. What gets closer to the bone than that?
Lisa Black: Glorifying violence. But crime writers don’t kill a bunch of people because we’re ghoulish. We do it because the requirement for any story is to raise the stakes, and the stakes can’t get higher than life or death.
“Good crime novels are not about the crimes or the solutions. Great writing is always about people, no matter the genre…”—Leslie Klinger
Leslie Klinger: A false perception that crime novels are simple-minded. Good crime novels are not about the crimes or the solutions. Great writing is always about people, no matter the genre, and there’s some incredible crime writing being published, telling truths about human lives.
Dianne Freeman (nominated for the Simon & Schuster Mary Higgins Clark Award – A Lady’s Guide to Etiquette and Murder): I often hear that crime fiction is just plot-driven entertainment—that unlike literary fiction, or even general fiction, it doesn’t examine the human condition. The truth is you can’t write crime fiction without examining the human condition and the society of a place or time. If a writer doesn’t understand the very elements that led someone to desperation, to the ultimate bad choice of taking another life, he can never write a convincing antagonist. Villains are not just bad people, they’re often in an untenable situation and see no other way out.
I write light-hearted historical mysteries, but my antagonists still kill people, and while I wouldn’t expect anyone to condone their behavior, I hope I portray their situations well enough that a reader could understand why they made such bad decisions.
Jacqueline Winspear: Again, I can’t give a direct answer to this one. I do think there’s a lot of snobbery among reviewers of so-called “literary fiction”—as if mystery fiction were somewhat lower down the totem pole. Yet it’s the most widely read genre, and has been ever since the myths and legends of earliest times. And it offers so much scope for the writer—it’s a literary form that most closely explores the human condition; the good, the bad and the ugly.
Mike Lawson: I would say that crime fiction is often not considered “literature” or “literary.” You probably won’t see a book classified as “crime fiction” nominated for the Nobel Prize for literature. The fact is that may crime writers—and I will admit that I’m not one of them—are extraordinarily literary or poetic or whatever it is that supposedly separates crime novels from “real literature.” The writing of people like James Lee Burke and Louise Penny come to mind. Anyhoo, crime novels tend to be thought of as “beach reads” when in fact there are some real literary heavyweights that contribute to the genre and have an enormous cultural impact.
HAVE YOU BEEN INSPIRED BY A REAL CRIME?
Victor Menthos (nominated for Best Novel – A Gambler’s Jury): Absolutely. Real crimes are far more fascinating than anything authors can dream up. As a prosecutor and then defense attorney, I’ve had ample research opportunities. The most fascinating are prison interviews with sociopaths/psychopaths (though officially diagnosed as ASPD). They’re more honest with attorneys than anyone else in their life, including spouses, so the information I can get from them is both fascinating and shocking. Possibly the most shocking thing anyone’s said to me is a man on trial for strangling his wife who told me in private, “Hey, sometimes you just gotta choke a b**ch,” and then laughed.
Naomi Hirahara (nominated for Best Paperback Original – Hiroshima Boy): Through research for a nonfiction book I co-wrote, I learned that there was a serial rapist on the loose in the Japanese American community in the streets of Chicago during the mid-1940s. The mention of this criminal in a government report haunted me, as I don’t think that he was ever apprehended. That is the seed for a historical thriller that I’m currently working on, tentatively titled Clark & Division.
Will Hill (nominated for Best Young Adult – After the Fire): Very much so. After The Fire was heavily inspired by the Waco Siege of 1993, the long standoff between members of the Branch Davidian religious sect and the authorities that ended with eighty-six lost lives. It is not a retelling of that notorious event, as that would have felt disrespectful to the men, women and children who survived, but the novel would certainly not exist without it.
Dianne Freeman: Because I write historical mystery, I’m always scouring the 1890s newspaper archives, both for reports of crime and how police managed to solve them. Surprisingly, people tended to be very honest when questioned by the police—“Yes, I killed her and I’d do it again!” They also frequently turned themselves in to the authorities. Neither of those scenarios make for a good mystery, but the crimes themselves often make me wonder how things might have turned out differently had the culprit not confessed.
Debra Jo Immergut (nominated for Best First Novel by an American Author – The Captives): I was enthralled by the Scarsdale Diet Doctor Murde—in which the posh headmistress of a DC-area private school murdered her boyfriend, who’d written a best-selling diet book. How was this woman driven to such extremes? That question was definitely rattling around my brain when I started writing The Captives.
Catherine Ryan Howard (nominated for Best Novel – The Liar’s Girl): All three of my novels have been inspired by real crimes. My debut, Distress Signals, was sparked by an article I read by Jon Ronson (‘Lost at Sea’) about cruise ship disappearances and the loopholes in maritime law. I got the idea for The Liar’s Girl from an article about Thomas Quick, once thought to be Sweden’s most prolific serial killer who, a decade after confessing in great detail multiple times to dozens of heinous crimes, announced he’d something new to confess: he’d left out the worst part of all. I thought, if that was the jacket copy on the back of a book, I’d pick it up. My next novel, Rewind (September 2019) came from a PostSecret image that said, ‘I trade hidden camera sex videos with other Airbnb hosts.’ I’ve just started my fourth novel which is also based on a real life case, so I think at this stage it’s probably safe to say that this is my crime writing MO.
Deanna Rayburn (nominated for Best Novel – A Treacherous Curse): There was a French poisoner in the 17th century who used a very particular method to rid himself of wealthy brides. When I read about his crimes, I decided to turn his murders around and create an inverted variation on his killings. It took a great deal of research into anatomy and poisons, but I got there in the end, and that provided the core of my first published novel and the beginning of the Lady Julia Grey series, Silent in the Grave.
Michaeley O’Brien (nominated for Best Television Episode Teleplay – “Episode 1,” Mystery Road): Writing in crime television, most of my screenplays are inspired by real crimes. I’m particularly interested in stories where the public response (or the newspaper reporting of that response) is almost completely one-sided. I’m fascinated to explore the other side: What would that criminal have to be thinking to commit that crime? Are they in fact innocent, but we’ve rushed to judge them based on our own prejudices or fears? From the safety of our own little socio-economic or cultural or gendered bubble we can be quick to make snap judgments and I’m interested in situations where the newspaper readership (the modern lynch mob) gets it wrong.
Lisa Unger (nominated for Best Paperback Original – Under My Skin; Best Short Story – “The Sleep Tight Motel”): Yes. When I was fifteen years old, a girl I knew was abducted and murdered. We attended the same high school together, and one afternoon she missed her bus and had to walk home. She never made it. It was a terrible, tragic event that rocked our small town, and changed the way I saw the world. I won’t say that it haunts me, but it has stayed with me. The story tried to tell itself over the years, but never quite emerged. Then, when I was about a quarter of the way into the writing of Fragile (2010), I realized I’d found the voices I needed to tell what was mine to tell. To be clear, Fragile is not a depiction of the actual event—I never wanted to write that kind of book, or cause any more pain to a family who has already lost too much. But, it is inspired by that very dark time in my young life, and it is what I brought forward from the nightmare that our small town endured.
Nancy Novick (Recipient of the 2019 Robert L. Fish Award): Only once. I wrote a story about an aborted mass shooting. I guess it was an attempted form of catharsis, but I ended up putting it away. Ultimately, it left me feeling sadder–and I certainly didn’t want to romanticize any aspect of these horrific crimes.
Mike Lawson: Frequently. Almost all my books are based on something I’ve read about or heard on the news. One book, like I said above, was based on the nefarious practices of drug companies doing drug testing in third world countries. Another was inspired by the reporter who “outed” Valerie Plame as a CIA agent and who wouldn’t give up her sources. In another book, it was real life violations of the no-fly zone around D.C. that caught my attention. One book was partially based on the insider trading story of Martha Stewart. And so on.
“No matter the quality of the story-telling, a piece of writing with no anchor in reality or which tells us nothing about life is, for me, just floating in space.”—Alex Perry
Alex Perry (nominated for Best Fact Crime – The Good Mothers: The True Story of the Women Who Took on the World’s Most Powerful Mafia): Reality and truth is everything. No matter the quality of the story-telling, a piece of writing with no anchor in reality or which tells us nothing about life is, for me, just floating in space. Pretty, maybe, but possibly pointless.
Victoria Thompson: Not actually inspired, but I was starting to suspect my writing was inspiring crimes. I had just finished writing Murder on Murray Hill when the news broke of a woman having escaped from a house in Cleveland where she and two other women had been held for years as sex slaves. The plot of my book was eerily similar, so I mentioned in my author’s note at the end that I wrote the book before the incident came to light. My next book, Murder on Amsterdam Avenue, dealt with racial discrimination in turn of the century New York and how the police arbitrarily persecuted African Americans. Just as it was published, the Black Lives Matter movement became a ground swell. I was starting to get a little nervous, but my next book did not presage any modern crimes and my streak mercifully ended.
Tony Abbott (nominated for Best Juvenile – Denis Ever After): Not a “crime” so much, but a family mystery did prompt one of the threads in Denis Ever After. After my mother passed away, I found among her effects, a certificate of vaccination for me issued by a doctor in the town where my grandparents lived, not where I lived with my parents. Why was I living with my grandparents for long enough to have a routine vaccination shot? No one was alive to clarify this for me, so I imagined my own solution. This episode appears in Denis as a way of proving that something happened in the characters’ past that they had no clue about.
Sasha Dawn (nominated for Best Young Adult – Blink): Yes, real crime has definitely inspired my writing. Not always, and in varying degrees. But my second YA suspense, Splinter, sprouted from a conversation I shared with my chiropractor. He had a poster hanging in his window advertising a reward for information about his missing sister-in-law, Lisa Stebic. She resided in a Chicago suburb not far from my hometown when she disappeared, leaving two small children behind. Her husband was, for a time, a person of interest in the case. I wondered how it would feel to be one of her children—dealing with both the disappearance of their mother, and knowing their father was under suspicion. This plight fleshed itself into a novel centering on a missing mother and a father as a #1 suspect—and the child dealing with it all.
Lisa Black: Yes. The Torso killer of 1930s Cleveland figured heavily into Trail of Blood, and a case of a missing escort gave me the beginning of Evidence of Murder.
Bradley Harper (nominated for Best First Novel by an American Author – A Knife in the Fog): Yes. My debut novel is of course inspired by the Ripper murders, and the characters I involve in that story are for the most part real people. I’ve submitted a synopsis for a follow-on novel in my current series that involves my three main characters in the theft of the Irish Crown Jewels. This was an actual crime which occurred in 1907 in Dublin Castle and involves the brother of Sir Ernest Shackleton, the Antarctic explorer, and among others, the Duke of Argyle, the brother-in-law to King Edward VII. The jewels have never been recovered and the King abruptly called off the investigation after receiving a preliminary report from the Scotland Yard Inspector the King had personally selected for the job. I even have a proposed title for it: The Washing Away of Wrongs, the title to the world’s oldest known forensic manual, written during the Han Dynasty in 1342. I think that title is the best description of atonement I have ever seen.
WHICH CLASSIC AUTHOR YOU WISH MORE PEOPLE READ TODAY?
Lisa Black: Ngaio Marsh. I read all of hers. And Helen MacInnes, who wrote more spy thrillers, but I read all of those too.
Lawrence Osborne: Seicho Matsumoto, a true master. “A Quiet Place” is brilliant. I also love Keigo Hagashino among contemporaries.
Mike Lawson: Ross Thomas. (And in the interest of full disclosure, I say this in part because my novels have often been compared to his.)
Tony Abbott: Chester Himes. His series of hard-edged crime books in the black community of 1950s New York blast your eyes open when you read them. The Real Cool Killers and A Rage in Harlem are gripping and dirty and real and spare in a way that a lot of crime fiction can’t match.
Linda Landrigan (Ellery Queen Award – EIC of Alfred Hitchcock’s Mystery Magazine): I have a thing for mid-century women crime writers, and I was delighted to see them rediscovered with Sarah Weinman’s excellent short story anthology Troubled Daughters, Twisted Wives, and her two-set omnibus collection of novels from the 40s and 50s.
Laird Blackwell (nominated for Best Critical/Biographical – Fiction): When I encountered the wonderful short stories about the detective Reggie Fortune by H.C. Bailey, I could easily understand why Fortune was one of the 3 or 4 most popular fictional detectives of the 1920s-1940s. The stories are intricate, well-written, atmospheric, philosophical, and archetypal—Don Quixote battling the windmills, King Arthur and the Holy Grail. My book for McFarland Press—H.C. Bailey’s Reggie Fortune and the Golden Age of Detective Fiction—was an attempt to extol the pleasures of these stories and to urge people to discover or re-discover them.
Lisa Unger: Patricia Highsmith was, simply put, one of the finest, most astute writers of psychological suspense to ever put pen to paper. But most likely, the average reader has never heard of her—though she wrote iconic stories like Strangers on a Train and The Talented Mr. Ripley. Her novels This Sweet Sickness and Deep Water are among my favorites and should be read by everyone, especially anyone who writes or reads psychological suspense. She was absolutely brilliant
A.B. Greenfield: I learn something about craft every time I re-read a Josephine Tey mystery. That said, I love how Jo Walton has questioned the premises of Tey’s world in her Farthing novels, which are well worth a read themselves.
I also wish more people read Jane Langton’s Homer Kelly novels. (She also wrote great children’s books.)
IF YOU WEREN’T A CRIME WRITER, WHAT WOULD YOU DO FOR A LIVING?
Jacqueline Winspear: I already write articles and essays for publication, so perhaps a journalist, or historian. If I were starting over again, I think I would have been drawn to the work of a foreign news correspondent—I have a very deep respect for war correspondents, especially those women who have put their lives on the line to bear witness to the impact of war on ordinary people—in fact my latest novel focuses on war correspondents in WW2. Failing that, I’d work with horses.
Jonathan Green (nominated for Best Fact Crime – Sex Money Murder: A Story of Crack, Blood, and Betrayal): One of my regrets is that I didn’t attempt to try for some sort of military service early on. I may not have made the grade—I realize that—but boy one always wonders what it would be like to try for something incredible like Ranger school, or in my case, as I’m English, the Royal Marines followed by a career in law enforcement with an international agency.
Leslie Klinger: My day job is lawyer, and I ain’t hanging that up soon!
Catherine Ryan Howard: When I was a teenager I wanted to be a virologist, specifically one who worked with Ebola, all suited up in a Biosafety Level 4 laboratory. I adopted this dream after reading The Hot Zone by Richard Preston, which I picked up because there was a quote on the cover from Stephen King that said it was the most horrifying true story he’d ever read. But since I’m squeamish and never showed any real aptitude for science, I think it’s far more likely I’d be working in publishing—and still trying to get published.
Lisa Black: I AM still working. I’m a full time CSI and latent print examiner for the Cape Coral Police Department.
Art Taylor (nominated for Best Short Story – “English 398: Fiction Workshop”): I actually do work another job: as a writing professor. And one of the courses I teach is “English 398: Fiction Workshop”—the title of my short story up for the Edgar. And the writing advice that the professor in the story gives his students sounds a lot like the advice I give my own students. But (thank goodness) readers shouldn’t look for similarities too much further than that.
John Lutz (nominated for Best Short Story – “Paranoid Enough for Two”): I began writing at a young age and sold my first work at age 26, so I continued to pursue what I loved doing. But that doesn’t mean I haven’t mulled over paths not taken. I would’ve liked to be a major league ball player, but that would never have happened. In more down-to-earth moments, I think I could’ve been a psychologist. Of course, that’s an interest that a crime fiction writer gets to pursue anyway. I’ve enjoyed writing psychological suspense novels like Single White Female.
Tony Abbott: Possibly archaeologist. The idea of dusting the sand away from some artifact is endlessly fascinating to me. I’m sure that’s a romantic view of what that profession entails, but, hey. Also, assuming I had the chops, I would love to compose modern music. Classical. I find so often in writing that what this or that sentence or paragraph or story should really be is not fiction, but a string quartet, or a series of piano sonatas. Still, I do what I can to write musically.
Mike Lawson: I usually spend at least half of every day writing and after I finish writing, I either go do what my wife tells me to do or I play golf. So I guess if I wasn’t writing, I’d being playing more golf. Seriously, I can’t imagine not writing.
WHAT’S A RECENT OR CLASSIC BOOK DO YOU WISH YOU’D WRITTEN?
Jacqueline Winspear: Tender Is The Night by f. Scott Fitzgerald, and A Gentleman In Moscow by Amor Towles
Mariah Fredericks: Sarah Caudwell’s (or Sarah Cockburn’s) Hilary Tamar series. The voice is so witty, the books are pure fun. I’d love to be that clever.
I also really admire We, The Accused by Ernest Raymond. It’s a quiet domestic tragedy in which the murder is grounded so deeply in the killing drudgery of a disappointed life you worry anyone could be a murderer.
Nancy Novick: Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier. Although it’s probably not generally regarded as a crime novel, it does indeed contain one of the great literary crimes of passion. du Maurier’s writing is beautiful and compelling and, she is a master (mistress!) of suspense.
Nova Jacobs (Nominated for best first novel by an American author for The Last Equation of Isaac Severy): G.K. Chesterton’s The Man Who Was Thursday is easily one of the most thrilling books I have ever read. It’s a mystery, but also delightfully hard to categorize. That, or anything by Tana French. I still haven’t read her latest (The Witch Elm), maybe because I find it a small comfort that it’s still waiting for me.
Laird Blackwell: I wish I had written The Innocence of Father Brown, the first book of Chesterton’s Father Brown opus—articulate and eloquent prose, brilliant use of paradox and puzzle, clever mystery plots and a unique “get- inside-the-criminal’s-mind” method of detection, and fascinating metaphysical parables. The book for which I am nominated for the Edgar, The Metaphysical Mysteries of G.K. Chesterton, is a tribute to these stories and as close as I can get to have written them.
Alex Perry: We Wish to Inform You That Tomorrow We Will be Killed with Our Families, by Philip Gourevitch. Gourevitch took the most depressing story in a small African country that had little bearing on the daily lives of most Americans—the Rwandan genocide—and turned it into the most perfectly constructed meditation on what it means to be human. When I was an Africa correspondent, it was a particular inspiration—I don’t think it’s ever been bettered as a piece of foreign correspondence—and an instruction manual, really, on how to draw people into stories in which they had no natural interest. Two decades later, it’s still my go-to reference for how to write: how to describe, how to structure, how to make transitions, how to stitch disparate story parts and thoughts together so that make a coherent and compelling path. I read a few sentences and I’m instantly a better writer.
“In writing villains, I always keep in mind that they don’t think of themselves as villains.”—John Lutz
John Lutz: Steinbeck’s “Of Mice And Men.” It centers on a murder, but people don’t generally think of it as a crime story, probably because the murderer is such a fully developed and sympathetic character. In writing villains, I always keep in mind that they don’t think of themselves as villains.
Will Hill: Recently, Bill Beverly’s Dodgers. So smart, so beautifully written, so relentless and so unconcerned with a neat ending, never mind a happy one. All time, Donna Tartt’s The Secret History. A masterpiece of ‘Why?’ rather than ‘Who?’, with characters that have stayed with me since I first read it more than twenty years ago. It being her debut just makes it an even more staggering achievement.
Art Taylor: I just read Josephine Tey’s Miss Pym Disposes for the first time this year—and what a marvelous novel! As a mystery, it might surprise some readers—in that the crime comes extremely late in the book, and even then it’s not entirely clear that it’s a crime at all. But the world the novel creates—a girls’ school in England—and the characters within that world, the dynamics between them… There’s a richness to all of it and deep sense of humanity coursing underneath. And if it seems a quiet book, that quietness is deceptive, because this book is bold and confident, sure of itself to its very core. If only any of us were skilled enough and lucky enough to write something so extraordinary.
IF YOU HAD TO DISAPPEAR TOMORROW, WHERE WOULD YOU GO?
Lisa Black: Ooo, I like that question. I should pick something exotic like Prague or Mozambique, but truthfully I’d choose some mountainous, cold, remote place in Canada.
Leslie Klinger: My home office.
Will Hill: The desert. Maybe California, around Joshua Tree where it’s still weird. Or if I needed to go further afield, then probably New Mexico, or west Texas. As a Brit who was an Americophile long before I ever visited the country, the open spaces in the south of the US still blow my mind.
Naomi Hirahara: I think I would flee to my roots, Hiroshima. It’s easy for me to hide over there. Plus it’s relatively safe.
Debra Jo Immergut: Montenegro. No extradition treaty, and in a Mediterranean population I can blend in pretty well. Plus sunny weather and wine. I imagine a cottage way up a dirt road, maybe a few sheep and a stray dog or two.
Laird Blackwell: If I had to disappear, I would go into the mind of Chesterton or Christianna Brand (ingenious clue-puzzle plots) or T.S. Stribling (the Professor Poggioli stories are brilliantly imaginative and unconventional) or Herman Melville (Moby Dick is a marvelous metaphor menagerie) or Carl Jung or Joseph Campbell. Any of these “hideways” would be fascinating, provoking, and enchanting.
Mike Lawson: Someplace where I could play golf most days and, in the evening, sit on a deck, enjoy a martini, and look out at the mountains and the water. Gee, that sounds a lot like the place where I live right now.
A.B. Greenfield (nominated for Best Juvenile – Ra the Mighty: Cat Detective): If I had a time machine, I’d travel to Ancient Egypt and do first-hand research for another Ra the Mighty book.
Alex Perry: If you’re asking where’s the best place to fall off the map and never be traced, Africa, without a doubt. You spend enough time there, you meet people who have done it. If you’re asking me precisely where I’d go if someone was coming after me, I know exactly where that is but it wouldn’t be much use as a hideaway if I told you. Southern hemisphere.
Jacqueline Winspear: I might want to disappear, so I’m keeping that one to myself! Mind you, I’ve just returned from Oman, and I really loved the country, so I might go back there.
Tony Abbott: If I said, it wouldn’t exactly be disappearing, because you’d know. Let’s just say, somewhere in the U.K. I could live happily just walking among the stones and writing sentences.
Jonathan Green: A remote hacienda in a lush and remote clearing in Jamaica, with a path leading down from a craggy cliff to the turquoise ocean below where I could spearfish and scuba dive every day. At night I would be forced to write a novel—something I haven’t yet had the courage to attempt but hope to—while living out my days with inspiration from Ian Fleming.
Sasha Dawn: If I had to disappear tomorrow, I obviously wouldn’t have a lot of time to plan. It also means, given the urgency, I should probably take myself internationally on the lam. I wouldn’t be able to go anywhere I’ve already been—because people would know to look for me there. I’d aim for someplace rural, as opposed to a big city…someplace I could start over. I don’t do well with cold weather, so I’d aim for someplace warmer: a villa in Positano, Italy, I think…an old house in need of a facelift (so I can go all Under-the-Tuscan-Sun with it, eventually write a memoir, and use the house as a metaphor for my rebuilding a life). If I’m on the run, I won’t be able to spend too much time out in public, so renovating a house will give me plenty to do until news outlets tire of putting my face on television. During that time, I’d also be learning the native language, which is fine with me, because I’ve wanted to learn Italian since my grandfather taught me the best swear words when I was seven. Someplace with lots of land appeals to me, as my family and I (yes, I’d bring them) have many puppies that need to run. But now that I’ve told you my plan, I probably have to conjure another. One cannot disappear in a place she’s advertised she’ll be.