VANISH wins the Nero Award!

                       nero award

 I have a new man in my life.  And here he is.

On Saturday night, I attended the annual Black Orchid Banquet at the Cafe Soleil in New York City, hosted by the Wolfe Pack (otherwise known as the Nero Wolfe fan club).  These are my kind of people.  They eat, they drink, they party, they sing bad songs, and they love mystery novels — specifically, Rex Stout’s mystery novels starring the immortal Nero Wolfe. 

I’ve never met a more convivial bunch.

And I don’t say that just because they happened to honor my novel VANISH with the 2006 Nero Award.  I say this because these are the kind of people I could hang out with year after year, if only they lived closer to me.  Their idea of a good time is to drink a lot, talk mysteries, and enjoy meals from The Cookbook, based on the spectacular repasts described in the Nero Wolfe mystery novels, by Rex Stout.  For those of you who aren’t familiar with him, Nero is what I would be if I was a guy. Well, a VERY overweight guy.  He loves his food.  He loves his beer.  He grows orchids.  He stays at home and pretty much sits in a chair all day.

Yep, that’s me.                    

               with stephannie russo  with Stephannie Russo

Around 80 people turned out to dine at the private party.  And the evening could only be described, in Nero’s immortal words of high praise, as “most satisfactory.”  This was not your usual mystery awards night, primarily because the attendees weren’t mystery writers at all, nor even people in the publishing world.  These were readers from all walks of life, from a former captain in Military Intelligence, to a former pediatrician (who once treated primates in the Bronx Zoo), and everyone in between.  What unites them is a fondness (one might call it an obsession) for the character of Nero Wolfe – gourmand, private detective and orchid aficionado.   

                      lawrence block  Lawrence Block

 The highlight of the evening was the hang-loose and hilarious keynote speech of Lawrence Block.  It just so happens that I’ve been a fan of Block’s since the mid-80’s, when I was a wannabe writer, and an avid reader of Writers Digest.  Block was a columnist and one of the best writing teachers I’ve ever come across.  In fact, to this day, whenever aspiring writers ask if I recommend a particular book about novel writing, the first title on my list is Block’s TELLING LIES FOR FUN AND PROFIT.  If you only buy one book about writing, that’s the one you should have. 

So now I’m home, and this gorgeous statue is sitting on my bookcase.  I certainly didn’t expect to win it.  In fact, I was completely taken by surprise when, a few weeks ago, I got the phone call about the award.

As a writer, I spend most of my year sitting alone at home fussing with a story that always seems like a certain disaster.  I suffer through months of sleepless nights, thinking that I’ll never be able to turn this mess into a book.  I thought VANISH would be my worst novel ever.  I turned it in with the apologetic murmur, “I’m sorry.  It’s the best I could do.”  So it’s always a surprise when people actually like the result — and then invite me to a marvelous banquet and hand me a gorgeous statue.

It doesn’t make writing the next book any easier.  But it sure does remind me that I managed to pull off the feat once before.  And that maybe I can do it again.


26 replies
  1. NewMexicanAnn
    NewMexicanAnn says:

    FINALLY!!!!!! I knew deep down in my heart that there just had to be one awards committee that had some taste!!!!

    Yay, Tess! Congratulations! And keep ’em comin’!

  2. annelabanane
    annelabanane says:

    I’ve just finished “Vanish”. I hadn’t had time to even lay my eyes upon a book for weeks but when my best friend told me she had a new Tess Gerritsen book, I just couldn’t resist and I have no regrets!!! I’ve had a great weekend thanks to you so you have all my gratitude. Congratulations for that highly deserved prize, these people really have some taste! Keep going!!!

  3. raylene056
    raylene056 says:

    I have almost the same post as the lady above me. I’ve had no time to read at all since my last vacation, but Mom just gave me Vanish and I started reading it right when I woke up on a Saturday morning, kept reading it in the car in between each store while I my husband drove us around christmas shopping and I was THISCLOSE to being late for work as I finished it up just before I left at 3:30. I couldn’t leave until I finished it! [I’m a quick reader].

    I’m glad you’ve won an award for it. I really enjoyed it.


  4. joe bernstein
    joe bernstein says:

    well tess,it looks like Vanish finally got what it deserved-a book award-and seeing that it comes from a group you like so much,that must make it even better-congrats!!

  5. Julia Talvitie
    Julia Talvitie says:

    Congratulations from Finland also!
    I have read Vanish this autum(in finnish) and it was great book! So I couldn´t wait till next spring when Mephisto club is released in Finland. I had to buy it from the internet and read it in english. (with the dictionary!)But it was worth it. I liked the book very much.
    Ps. I´m totally obsessive about relationship between Daniel Brophy and Maura Isles SO Thank You (-:

  6. Cynthia Reese
    Cynthia Reese says:

    Congrats, Tess! This is indeed high praise, but to me, it’s no surprise — you craft your novels with all the world-building that makes Rex Stout’s Wolfe Pack so loyal.

    I love Nero Wolfe, adore Archie Goodwin and the whole cast of characters … the problem, of course, is that reading most of the novels (they’re keepers and I go back to them over and over) makes me so dad-gummed hungry! And then of course, I surface from the book to my little of the corner of the world to find no office, no globe in the corner, no orchids on the roof and … sigh … no Fritz to whip me up something yummy and delicious.

  7. Tess
    Tess says:

    Thanks everyone for the congrats! And Cynthia, you have precisely pointed out the real problem with reading the Nero Wolfe series — they make you hungry. After reading about Fritz cooking saucisse, all I could think of was cooking delectable little sausages for dinner.

  8. struggler
    struggler says:

    Congratulations Tess, and may I say that Vanish is my personal favourite of the Rizzoli series, so it’s good to see your best work praised so highly.

  9. wordworker
    wordworker says:

    It’s so hard for me to imagine Tess Gerritsen turning in a novel and saying, “I’m sorry. It’s the best I could do.”!!! Hugs to you, Tess. You did a marvelous job!

  10. Allison Brennan
    Allison Brennan says:

    CONGRATULATIONS!!! I’m thrilled for you. And you deserve it. I’ve read and enjoyed all your books and VANISH is my favorite. I read it on a Sunday, started it in the late afternoon and didn’t put it down except to feed the kids dinner (which I did very grudgingly.) No reason to apologize for this book! (Though, ironically, I’m about to do the same thing for my next one . . . )

  11. Liz
    Liz says:

    Fabulous, Tess! Many congratulations. I’m delighted that you’ve been recognized like this and know that Nero won’t be on his own for long.

  12. Amy MacKinnon
    Amy MacKinnon says:

    Tess, move dear Nero from the bookcase to the desk for those moments when you need reassurance; you’ll hear him whisper, “You are a good writer, you are a good writer,you are…”

  13. gymrat3
    gymrat3 says:

    I just finished my first book by Tess G., which was Body Double. This was superb indeed. Characters were indepth, believable, and the twists and turns were not all as expected. My only question now is why not a follow-up with the daughter of Det. Ballard now seeking revenge on Maura and Rizolli. Lisa Gardner has done that in several of her books, brought characters back into play in succeeding books and I loved it. Just an idea! Perhaps she has done it and I’ll find out when I read the rest of what she has written. I have since contacted my reading tribe and asked for any of Tess’s books to be sent my way. What a way to spend a day when it is 9 degrees outside. Almost had to turn the furnace down as the suspense kept me on FIRE!

  14. Elaine Flinn
    Elaine Flinn says:

    Ohmygosh, where the hell have I been? I just now read about this wonderful tribute, Tess – and couldn’t be happier for you!

    Many congrats! This calls for another reason to give you a hug when I see you at TFest.

  15. Angi
    Angi says:

    Wow! Elaine I am way behind you! I have been away a long time! Huge congrats Tess!!! You have earned this!!!
    Happy Holidays to you! I hope that 2007 will be happy and prosperous for you and your family!!

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