2011 Ngaio Marsh Award Winner Accepts the Award
Paddy Richardson, Neil Cross, Paul Cleave and Alix Bosco, all excellent writers whose styles differ widely, were nominated. Paul Cleave won for his novel Shotgun Men. And he showed up to accept the second annual award. Last year, in a plot twist Ngaio Marsh might have employed and enjoyed, Alix Bosco won for Cut & Run. But Alix Bosco is a pseudonym and the winning author did not appear.
A week before the award ceremony on 21 August of this year, Greg McGee announced that he uses the pseudonym Alix Bosco and that he would appear to support the other authors and the awarding of the prize. In a series of interviews he explained that he wanted the character he created, a female investigator to be evaluated by readers and critics as the creation of an unknown writer. He described his reputation, based in part on his personal history — a rugby player who wrote a play about rugby, “ as a bloke who writes about blokes” He noted that prepublication readers who knew he was the author found the character not credible but, readers unaware of the author’s identity found the character engaging. McGee said he had to argue with his agent and publisher to publish the book without using his name. He noted that historically women authors have had to use male pen names to get published.
Best-selling and prolific author Tess Gerritsen and award-winning author John Hart began the ceremony by speaking and answering questions about their work. They were warm informative and funny.
Tess Gerritsen and John Hart
The nominees also spoke about their work and took questions from the audience. One topic that was repeatedly asked about was if the writers would use events from the latest major earthquake, the greatest natural disaster in New Zealand’s history, in their writing. Paul Cleave sets his novels in Christchurch, site of the disaster.
The authors as a group suggested the events were too recent and emotions were still very raw. Each author said they would not write about the earthquake any tme soon. With so many people as direct witnesses, any error in detail would be immediately noted. They also agreed about the importance of literature was a way for a nation to mourn and to process terrible events like wars and disasters.
I would be remiss if I did not praise the organizers of the event who were determined to have the awards in the sad, wounded city of Christchurch. I cannot imagine the hurdles and persistence it must have taken to find a place, coordinate scheduling, overcome the uncertainties, and actually hold the ceremony. Kudos for a truly outstanding event.