Wednesday, September 1, 2010

You've the Right to Six Words: The Grand Finale!

*Sniff* Here we are once again at the final post of the six-word memoirs. It's sad to see the fun come to a close again, but I've just been so honored and thrilled to have the opportunity to share all these great memoir statements with you guys. I hope you've enjoyed meeting some new authors, hearing from favorites, and just generally getting a little glimpse inside the minds of some extremely talented folks. But before we wrap up completely I have three amazing folks to end this project right. Three people who have made incredible contributions to the crime fiction genre and fiction as a whole. Ladies and gentlemen, let the fireworks begin!

In our final week of memoirs we lead off with a woman who has impacted not only the crime fiction genre, but society as well. Kansas native and New York Times bestseller Sara Paretsky worked as a community organizer in Chicago during the 1966 race riots; she served on the board of Thresholds, serving Chicago’s mentally ill homeless population; and she’s mentored teens from some of the most troubled schools in Chicago. Sara continues to work closely with literacy and reproductive rights groups.

The social issues that Sara passionately embraces find their ways into her crime novels, which have also paved the way for change. Her V.I. Warshawski series introduced a smart, tough female P.I. into a genre that had traditionally been male-dominated. V.I. Warshawski doesn’t play the role of victim; instead she waltzed into the role of hero when Sara published 1982’s INDEMNITY ONLY.

After opening doors for her fictional protagonist, Sara moved on to opening doors for real women with the creation of Sisters in Crime in 1986. She’s earned a Ph.D. in history and been awarded honorary Doctorate of Letters degrees from several universities. The British Crime Writers have bestowed both the Gold Dagger for best novel and the Cartier Diamond Dagger for lifetime achievement on the crime-writing maven.

In addition to her V.I. Warshawski series, Sara has published two stand alone novels, short stories and a memoir. This week she releases the 14th V.I. Warshawski novel, BODY WORK. While Sara says she’s

Caught in the Web of Words

I can’t help but wonder if she’s actually the one weaving that web. It’s an honor to have Sara join us today.

Next up is another author helping to define the crime fiction genre of the 21st century, Gar Anthony Haywood. Since I'm sometimes a little slow arriving at the party, I only discovered this great talent this year. However, I consider it one of, if not THE, highpoint of my reading for 2010. Gar is a two-time Shamus winner and an Anthony Award winner. He's graced the Los Angeles Times bestseller list and been praised from coast to coast for his writing, both as Gar Anthony Haywood and as his alter-ego, Ray Shannon.

Gar broke into crime fiction with his private investigator Aaron Gunner in FEAR OF THE DARK. And what a way to break onto the scene. FEAR OF THE DARK was the second ever winner of the St. Martin's Press/PWA Best First Private Eye Novel Contest and it took home the Shamus award for Best First P.I. Novel in 1989. Gar followed up FEAR OF THE DARK with five additional Aaron Gunner novels and two humorous crime novels featuring Dottie and Joe Loudermilk, retiree crime solvers. As Ray Shannon, Gar published two standalone thrillers, MAN EATER and FIRECRACKER. Most recently, he's returned to publishing under his own name with another amazing standalone, CEMETERY ROAD.

Gar's accomplishments are not limited to his novels, however. He's also an award-winning short story writer, has written for both the Los Angeles Times and the New York Times, AND finds his name in the credits of such television dramas as NEW YORK UNDERCOVER and THE DISTRICT.

When he's not leaving his genius in written form, he's expressing it through graphic arts. Apparently Gar comes by his art talent through genetics; his father was an architect. But Gar credits Dad with more than just his affinity for art:

Dad's paperbacks
best writing school ever.

Sometimes six words can sure say a lot! Gar, it is such a pleasure! Thank you for that little window into a great man.

And to wrap up our grand finale, it gives me great pleasure to introduce Val McDermid. As a child in Scotland, Val knew she wanted to be a writer. She wanted to be one of the people who made the books that filled the library shelves. But, like many other writers, she was told she wouldn't be able to make a living and she needed a "real" job. So when the first student from a state school in Scotland was accepted and graduated from St. Hilda's College, Oxford, she became a journalist. And she was still determined to write a book.

Her first attempt at a book turned out to be a better play than novel. She had a short run as a dramatist before she decided to try her hand at a crime novel. The result of that effort turned into REPORT FOR MURDER, which was published in 1987. A mere four years later Val was doing what everyone told her she couldn't do, she was making her living as a writer. And she continues to do that to this day. Val also reviews for various national newspapers, writes the occasional journalistic piece and broadcasts on the radio.

Her writing credits now include three series: the Lindsey Gordon series, which included her debut REPORT FOR MURDER, the Kate Brannigan series, and the Tony Hill and Carol Jordan series, which is the basis for the WIRE IN THE BLOOD television series. FEVER OF THE BONE was the sixth book in the Hill/Jordan series, released last year. In addition to her three series, Val has two short story collections, a non-fiction work and five additional stand alone novels, with the sixth to be published later this week in the UK as TRICK OF THE DARK.

There aren't too many awards Val hasn't at least been short listed for. Her works have earned her multiple Barry Awards, an Anthony, a Macavity, a Dilys, a Los Angeles Book Prize, numerous Edgar nominations, the CWA Gold Dagger and the CWA Cartier Diamond Dagger among others. So to the agent who fired her, the doubting Thomases who told her she had to get a "real" job, and the others with so little faith, Val McDermid

Did everything they said I couldn't.

Hallelujah! That is one of the reasons she'll be honored as a guest of honor at the 2011 Bouchercon in St. Louis, as will Sara Paretsky. And if you'll pardon me a little PSA before we wrap this up today, I'll let you in on a secret - well, o.k., it isn't really a secret, but it's good info. If you register for Bouchercon 2011 before November 1st, you can save yourself a little money. Registration is $150 until November 1st. Then it goes up to $175. You've all heard me rave about this convention, and I'd love the chance to meet you in St. Louis! If nothing else, put this on your radar. It really is a must for any crime fiction fan. O.k., PSA over.

So many, many thanks to Sara, Gar and Val. And all the authors who participated in "You've the Right to Six Words" this year. I am humbled that you made time to play along with us. I'm humbled that folks come by each week to read and have fun with us. I have so enjoyed the whole experience. I hope you all have as well. And I hope you've found a few new authors and books to keep you busy.

Happy Reading everyone!
**FUN UPDATE!! The generous folks at Putnam have offered to give one commenter a copy of Sara Paretsky's new V.I. Warshawski novel, BODY WORK. So in your comment, make sure you leave an e-mail where we can contact you in case you're the lucky random commenter chosen. As long as you have a U.S. mailing address, you're eligible!! Thanks to Putnam and good luck to everyone!

Technorati Tags: , , ,


kathy d. September 1, 2010 at 4:11 AM  

I read this fine column while looking at my bookcase which has one-half of a shelf devoted to V.I. Warshawski, my favorite women private detective. Well, heck, my favorite detective period.

Good recognition of Sara Paretsky, an excellent writer and social commentator be it in fiction or non-fiction, and upholder of the First Amendment.

And I am reminded to read more of Val McDermid, having read only two of her books.

Anonymous September 1, 2010 at 8:18 AM  

Jen, this has been so much fun seeing who will answer your 6-word memoir each week! As always, you are amazing! The authors are amazine! This week's group is fabulous. Some of my very favorite authors ever. Thanks so much for sharing with all of us!!

Naomi Johnson September 1, 2010 at 9:00 AM  

Once again, a fine collection of memoirs, Jen. I can't wait to see what your next project looks like.

CJ Lyons September 1, 2010 at 9:02 AM  

What a wonderful end to a fantastic series!

I just wanted to drop by and thank you for all you do for authors and on a personal note, to let you know how much I enjoyed being included earlier in your series.

Take care and happy reading!

Libby Hellmann September 1, 2010 at 9:22 AM  

A truly Grand Finale. You couldn't have chosen better! What fun this has been Jen... But I have no doubt you'll top yourself with the next project.

Libby Hellmann September 1, 2010 at 9:22 AM  

A truly GRAND finale, Jen. What fun this has been. But I have no doubt you'll top yourself with the next project.

See you soon!

Jennifer September 1, 2010 at 11:35 AM  

Fabulous series and grand finale. I have not read a Sara Paretsky novel in far too long and I adore her V.I. Warshawski series, so I have no excuse.
I truly enjoyed your 6 word memoirs. Thank you!

Erin September 1, 2010 at 11:48 AM  

Very grateful for Jen's "Six Words." (Promised to limit gushing to...6 words :))

Timothy Hallinan September 1, 2010 at 12:01 PM  

Sensational, Jen - and what a great bunch of writers. You should put this whole collection permanently on your site so people can browse it, which is what I'm trying to do now with all the great guest blogs about plotting and creativity. It would be like an e-book right on your site that we can always flip through when we need our heads straightened out,

Alison M. September 1, 2010 at 12:09 PM  

Great memoirs. I just found your blog so I will have to read more.
I love Sara Paretsky! Hope I win!

My memoir...Blogging is my excuse to read

le0pard13 September 1, 2010 at 12:41 PM  

Jen, this is easily the best series I've enjoyed on your blog site! I'm saddened to see come to a close, but I've enjoyed every segment of it. Thanks very much for this, my friend.

Theresa September 1, 2010 at 4:30 PM  

Wonderful series Jen! Looking forward to the next project!

Rebecca Cantrell September 1, 2010 at 5:46 PM  

Thank you, Jen! It's been wonderful reading the memoirs and I can't think of a better set of authors to end with. Thanks also for making room for mine.

Looking forward to the next project!

Anonymous September 1, 2010 at 5:57 PM  

You are our star, Jen. Thanks for the memories ... in six words.

Shane Gericke

Anonymous September 1, 2010 at 6:00 PM  

Yeah for Sarah and V.I.! Have always felt a kinship as I am V.A.!

Writing haiku (17 syllables) is a challenge for me. The eloquent 6 words are amazing!

Less is more, so say I!

6 words, right?!

Ginny at

kathy d. September 1, 2010 at 6:38 PM  

In six words:

A great series: Thank you, Jen!

Pop Culture Nerd September 1, 2010 at 7:37 PM  

I'm sniffing, too. Can't believe another 6-word season is over but what a marvelous way to end it, Jen. Love Ms. McDermid's defiant memoir.

Thank you to all the authors who shared their memoirs and Jen for putting it all together in such splendid style.

kathy d. September 1, 2010 at 8:28 PM to be added to the draw for "Body Work."

Jen Forbus September 1, 2010 at 8:57 PM  

Thank you everyone for your kind words, for sharing this project with me, and for taking the time to comment today!

Now I have to go hatch up new ideas!

darbyscloset September 1, 2010 at 9:23 PM  

Ta-Da, the end is near!
darbyscloset at yahoo dot com

Kelli Stanley September 2, 2010 at 1:19 PM  

Fantastic fireworks ending to a wonderful collection, Jen! Thanks for this incredible tribute to crime fiction, and thanks for letting me participate last year.

Can't wait to see what you come up with next! :)

Kelli Stanley September 2, 2010 at 1:19 PM  

Fantastic fireworks ending to a wonderful collection, Jen! Thanks for this incredible tribute to crime fiction, and thanks for letting me participate last year.

Can't wait to see what you come up with next! :)

Rosemary Harris September 2, 2010 at 6:48 PM  

Jen, what are your six words?

Jen Forbus September 2, 2010 at 8:16 PM  

Well Ro, it just so happens that I wrote a guest post about exactly that question. Here it is:

Hank Phillippi Ryan September 3, 2010 at 11:05 PM  

Jen, congratulations. You had a wonderful idea, and made it into classic.

You bring tears to my eyes.

We are all grateful and inspired. (See? that's six!)

trish September 4, 2010 at 6:38 PM  

Those are great 6 word memoirs to end on! You're very inspiring, Jen, and I love that the crime fiction community is so tight, welcoming, and supportive. Other communities should follow suit! :)

  © Blogger templates 'Neuronic' by 2008

Back to TOP