I should be used to this by now

Over at her blog the other day, Sarah Weinman posted a lovely congratulations for my Nero Award.  I was delighted to see it.  But then one of her blog readers followed up the announcement with the sort of comment that always seems to dog me: 

“There were no other nominations? It seems that this year Nero Award just gave the prize to just (one) nominee. And I think there is no any traits of Nero Wolfe mystery tradition in Gerritsen’s work. Hmm….”

“Hmmm” indeed.  (Forget the fact this person was ignorant of the hard work of the Nero Awards committee. )  The message was clear: That hack Gerritsen must be paying off judges again.  Why else would a prize committee throw an award at her? 

I’m reminded yet again of all the snarky comments made about my Edgar nomination, and how my book VANISH was the “wtf?” nominee.  Even the Macavity nomination for VANISH hasn’t quieted the doubters.  

It’s an interesting contrast to the world of romance publishing.  Romance readers seem to be a far more inclusive bunch.  No matter what the sub-genre – historical, paranormal, thrillers, fantasy, or futuristic —  romance readers welcome any and all variations on the love story.  Which may explain why romance is where you find some of the most innovative trends in fiction, and readers who embrace them all.  When THE SURGEON won the Rita award in 2002, for best romantic suspense, all I heard were sincere congratulations. 

So are mystery readers just a particularly cranky bunch?  How does one get into their “approved” club?  How does one escape “wtf?!” status?  Does anyone ever tell Pelecanos or Connelly that they don’t belong?


22 replies
  1. Jaye Patrick
    Jaye Patrick says:

    This is probably going to sound harsh, but… get over it. You’re an established award winning author. Who cares what one or two naysayers think? They will always be around. (If there were howls of outrage, I’d be saying something else.)

    For you to be awarded the Nero is a testament to your skills and talent as a writer and the hard work of the judging panel. If they didn’t think you were worthy, they wouldn’t have given it to you.

    And the ‘wtf’ for Vanish? Again, not a big deal. It shows that the book was worthy in the eyes of the judges – of course, we already knew it was worthy!

    So, to recap: award panels do not give out gongs to just anybody; it is foolish to feel slighted by a minor, minor, minority when the majority all heartily approve of the awards.

    Forget those comments; you’re a success now and you’re not going to make everyone happy.

  2. Sean Lindsay
    Sean Lindsay says:

    I suspect you’re going to get a lot of “Forget about them! You’re great!” comments. And while that may be true, the fact that you’re posting this means that for some reason, you don’t fully believe it.

    Remember, though, there is a sizeable minority of people who believe the Internet was invented for the express purpose of anon- or pseudonymously bagging the famous and/or talented.

    I further suspect that some of this criticism is based in the residual “cringe” associated (by some) with the romance genre. As such, it’s an expression of prejudice, and little else.

    Some people hate Shakespeare. I don’t think he worries about it.

  3. Tess
    Tess says:

    yeah, you’re absolutely right. I should get over it. But the fact I’m blogging about it at all just shows that it bothered me. And that’s the danger of blogging while bothered.

  4. ec
    ec says:

    So are mystery readers just a particularly cranky bunch?

    Compared to romance readers, probably. Compared to fantasy readers, they’re a bunch of pussycats.

    Fantasy readers–and, I’m sorry to say, more than a few writers as well–spend a great deal of time and energy sneering at other fantasy readers and writers. China Mievelle famously observed that Tolkien was “a wen on the arse of fantasy.” Writers of high fantasy are derided as Tolkien imitators. People who write “mainstream fantasy” (“jumbo shrimp,” anyone?) sniff at those who write media tie-in books. Some fantasy readers are as partisan about a favorite writer as sports fans are about their team. It’s not uncommon for partisan fans to go to other writers’ blogs and message boards to talk up their favorite writer, usually by making favorable comparisons with the author host. Avid fantasy readers tend to become very personally invested in fandom. The person who posted on J.A. Konrath’s blog recently, who was so indignant about some squabble among J.K.Rowling fans? Pretty mild, actually.

    At times working in this genre is not unlike experiencing a Yankees/Red Sox game in the Fenway bleachers. But what are you going to do? If you like the game, you go where it’s played. 🙂

  5. Bob Morris
    Bob Morris says:

    These are small minded folks, Tess. Petty people …

    I ran into the same thing when BAHAMARAMA was nominated for an Edgar in 2005, people saying it was wrong for a so-called “comic” novel to get the nod.

    Two words: Screw ’em …

  6. wordworker
    wordworker says:

    Tess, I always blog while bothered. You’re allowed to vent and be human. I’ll still show up to read. Apparently, so will many others. I know I’m running behind the curve, but I just bought my copy of The Mephisto Club. I will be sinking my teeth in soon. Thanks in advance. I ALWAYS need something good to read in December!

  7. struggler
    struggler says:

    Well I’d like to say that you’ve been short-listed for the highly esteemed Struggler Award, but I suppose that wouldn’t cheer you up any.

    Meanwhile, I thought wtf stood for Wonderfully Talented Female, but what do I know…..

  8. NewMexicanAnn
    NewMexicanAnn says:

    Nooooooooooooooo………. “Hack” Gerritsen didn’t pay off the judges again. I did with a big bowl of red chile enchilada casserole, brownies, and pitchers of pina coladas. Hahahahahaaaaaaa!!!!! Just kidding.

    Seriously, Bob Morris’ two word comment is a great summary.

  9. BA
    BA says:

    Tess, I know this is a comment section for fellow authors and not for those who simply buy your books, and so I find myself visiting it less and less. I enjoy your novels. You know you are my favorite author but I agree with Jaye: “Get over it.” Welcome to life on earth. This negative energy is going to infiltrate your writing. Rise above it.

  10. GerritsenFever10
    GerritsenFever10 says:

    That person obviously didn’t understand the selection process of the Nero Award. But whatever, that’s their problem. Dr. G, you should quit trying to please every single one of your readers. While all of us are important (we essentially pay you) not all of us have to be pleased with what you write all of the time (I know I know, previous blog post). When you win an award, display it proudly and if not another soul on this planet knows, you’ll know why you won it and it will be special to you; not everyone else.

  11. Amy MacKinnon
    Amy MacKinnon says:

    Tess, they wouldn’t bother trying to take you down a notch if you weren’t at the top of the heap. When people are snide it says more about them, than about their target.

    You’re a NYT best-selling writer; my goodness, why listen to one crank when hundreds of thousands have spoken with their wallets?

  12. JMH
    JMH says:

    Tess: This reminds me of JA’s recent blog, when are we satisfied as writers? Most of use would be happy to be nominated. You got nominated, and won. Now it seems you wish you had won without a single dissent or naysayer, no matter how insignificant. Enjoy what you have and where you are. Don’t let a hunger for even more distract from the joy of the present.

  13. Tess
    Tess says:

    my sensitivity goes back to those reader comments earlier this year on Sarah’s blog (directed only at me and not the other nominees) about my undeserved Edgar nomination. I was pretty stunned by that. Coming out of the romance genre, which mystery readers so often denigrate, is another reason. It’s a struggle for any romance author to be taken seriously, and I’m sure that other former romance authors know the challenge.
    It’s one of the reasons International Thriller Writers has been so successful as an organization — it’s one of the few places where former romance authors feel accepted as serious thriller writers.

  14. JMH
    JMH says:

    Tess: Every book has to land somewhere on the literary spectrum, meaning that by default it will not appeal to everyone. In fact, I’d bet that if you took the most popular book out there, and had every single person in the US read it, only a very small percentage would consider their time well spent. The world of literature is incurably subjective. So if someone doesn’t like something, no matter what the reason (e.g., author is a former “romance” novelist), be it your book, my book, or someone elses–who cares? Even readers of a particular genre (e.g. thrillers) will like some books in that genre and not others.

    You done good.
    Be proud of yourself.
    Count the positives and not the negatives.

  15. JA Konrath
    JA Konrath says:

    If being accepted is important to you, you can dedicate your life to trying to please a handful of internet halfwits who can only feel good about themselves by putting down successful people in public forums.

    Or, like Ken Bruen says, you can “Fook the begrudgers.”

    I vote for the fooking.

  16. knaster
    knaster says:

    Hi Tess,
    It’s Abe.
    If they can’t stand the heat, get out of the kitchen. There can be 1 or 100 nominees. The judges picked the right one and that’s all there is to it. If they don’t like it, let them go have a meal at Taco Bell. It’s on me!

  17. Rhonda Lane
    Rhonda Lane says:

    I’m sure you’ve heard this one: “What’s the recipe for Expert? Just add Internet.”

    In a week or so, Time Magazine will name its “Person of the Year.” Time doesn’t list who else it considers as “also rans.” The magazine simply bestows the honor — period. Organizations have that right. It’s their party, yanno?

    Bottom line: I hope the story you’re working on now is going well. On top of the HollyDaze and end-of-the-year stuff, you don’t need twerps sapping your energy.

    An old PR adage is, there’s no such thing as bad publicity. Please try to look at it this way — VANISH made such an impact on those jerks that they’re still talking about it. Please don’t allow them the power to both spoil your holidays and cast a shadow over your current WIP.

  18. racewife22j
    racewife22j says:

    Hi Tess:
    I totally understand where you are coming from. As much as I’m sure that you would like to not let other people’s negative comments bother you the fact is that they do. Although I am not famous I am bothered by the same problem myself. I always tend to take negative comments to personally and I believe that this may be the case with yourself.
    There are always going to be people that do not believe that you are worthy or that you have not paid your dues to earn awards. Unfortunately there are always going to be people like this and I guess the best thing to do is consider the source. What gives them the right to stand in judgement of you or your work? I am sure that if you were afforded the opportunity to meet some of these critics you would find some pretty pathatic people.
    Please take comfort in the number of fans that you have as that in itself tells the true story. The fact is that you are more than worthy and have a large fan base that is very proud of all of your accomplishments!

  19. Diana Peterfreund
    Diana Peterfreund says:

    Romance readers seem to be a far more inclusive bunch. No matter what the sub-genre – historical, paranormal, thrillers, fantasy, or futuristic — romance readers welcome any and all variations on the love story.

    As long as you don’t go near the current raging debates on erotic romance. Because there have been plenty of knock down drag out fights about that of late. And about gay romances. And romances in first person. And romances that don’t end with the couple married and planning the birth of twins… there are inter-genre fights in every genre, I imagine.

  20. Allison Brennan
    Allison Brennan says:

    Tess said: It’s one of the reasons International Thriller Writers has been so successful as an organization — it’s one of the few places where former romance authors feel accepted as serious thriller writers.

    And current romantic thriller writers. For the most part, ITW members have been inclusive with ALL sub-genres of the thriller, from action to romantic to medical to SF to whatever.

    But no matter what the organization, there will always be people who like to be critical. It’s just human nature. Romance writers are, generally, more supportive of each other I think because romance isn’t taken seriously by many outside the genre. This doesn’t mean we don’t have our own internal battles, but they are–generally–internal.

    It’s the same thing with mass market vs hardcover; commercial fiction vs literary fiction. Prolific writers vs one-book-a-year writers. Or one book every five years! I was recently told that books written quickly have no depth or layering or longevity. This after I mentioned I finished my last book in six weeks.

    Sorry you’re being criticized. VANISH deserves every award and nomination it received.

  21. Cynbagley
    Cynbagley says:

    I have noticed that the mystery/thriller writers are a moody bunch… I love Raymond Chandler, but look at his life…

    Congratulations… heartfelt and all that jazz

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