Friday, June 06, 2008

Aiders and Abettors

by Libby Hellmann

In the crime fiction community there are writers, and there are readers. And then there are others. They started out as fans, but somewhere along the way they started to “aid and abet” – showing up at signings, buying books, writing reviews, producing magazines, editing newsletters, planning conferences, escorting authors, hosting them at their homes, running organizations, and a slew of other things.

They do it – mostly without making much money, and sometimes none at all – because of their love of the genre. They don't want exposure... they don't crave praise. They do it because they love to read, and they love to read crime fiction. And we authors owe them a debt. We couldn’t be or do half the things we do without their help. But readers owe them, too, because without them, you might not know about new authors, great books, and fun people. Booksellers, publishers, editors, and agents should thank them as well, because without them, the word-of-mouth about what’s new and what’s good just wouldn’t be as widespread. In short, these people are what makes us a “community.”

I’m talking about people like Jon and Ruth Jordan, Judy Bobalik, Sarah Weinman (who's a hell of a writer as well), Ari Karim, 4MA’s founder Maddy Van Hertbruggen… all the people who were recently nominated for an Anthony for Special Service to the field. But there are many others, without whom the community would not be what it is: websites like Reviewing the Evidence, Stop You’re Killing Me, New Mystery Reviews; list-serves like RAM and Dorothy L; webzines like January Magazine. People like David Montgomery, Hanley Kanar, Beth Wasson, Gloria Feit, Margery Flax, Mary Lou Wright, Janet Rudolph, PJ Nunn, and David Thompson (ok he’s a bookseller but a special one), and a host of other people I know I’m forgetting.

These are the people who make us look good… who treat us like rock-stars (at least for an hour or so)... who encourage us when we’re being hard on ourselves. Some are even known to help brainstorm plots…


So while it’s not Valentine’s Day, I want to send a special thanks to all the Aiders and Abettors out there. They have made the community what it is, and we couldn’t survive without them.

30 comments:

Barbara D'Amato said...

And Joan Turchik!
And Ed Gilbreth!

Anonymous said...

Sarah Weinman doesn't crave exposure and credit? WTF? Are we talking about the same person?

In my experience, most of these people do what they do because they thirst for the attention and ass-kissing -- which is fine. A person deserves to be rewarded for their efforts and there ain't any money in it.

guyot said...

First of all, if you don't have the huevos to sign your name to a comment like that, you're an ass. And a poseur, and you suck at whatever it is you do.

Secondly, as Harlan Ellison said - "You are not entitled to your opinion, you are entitled to your informed opinion."

Okay, enough of that. I would like to give an extra shout-out to both Margery Flax and David J. Montgomery.

Margery is the central nervous system of MWA, and the spine of this genre. Take her away from the past seven years and the entire genre and community would have suffered greatly.

No one can begin to understand how much that woman does for MWA and the genre as a whole.

And now that nit DJM. Yeah, so I slept with him, but hey, have you seen that bald head? Mmm.

DJM started out as a fan oh so long ago. But his talent for writing and insightful, intelligent criticism quickly garnered a following and he blew up - became probably the most prolific crime fiction reviewer in our country. He certainly has reviewed for more national papers than anyone I know.

He has exposed the gen public to this genre we all love more than anyone else. Yes, there are bloggers who do the same, but they don't reach the masses as DJM's reviews have.

He has been a champion of this genre and a soldier in the silly fight of genre v. "literary" for years.

A review from him in a major newspaper can jumpstart a writer's career, and he has been extremely kind to first-time authors.

I think I'll sleep with him again.

Marcus Sakey said...

Wow. I just jumped in here to heartily second everything Libby said, but now I have to be rude to "anonymous".

What the hell?

Why write something like that? What does it accomplish? Do you know how hard these people work, how much support they give to people, how much love they put out there just because that's the kind of person they are?

And if you really believe the things you're writing, if you really want to put the argument forward, why not have the guts to attach your name?

David J. Montgomery said...

I don't usually respond to anonymous comments... But that person is an idiot.

I do it for the money, plain and simple. You may not know this, but there are TENS of dollars to be make in book reviewing.

Kevin Guilfoile said...

I think our anonymous commenter also might have been involved in the hilarious and bloody troll fight that broke out in the comments of this post about, believe it or not, which of the world's lakes are the deepest.

JD Rhoades said...

Let me second everything Libby says. These folks are a joy to be around. After all, we share the same passions.

Sarah Weinman said...

First, thank you, Libby. Your words are kind and this community of folks you have rightfully singled out is amazing.

And anon, dearie, you'll be happy to note that I appear on the cover of this week's issue of New York Times Magazine, lounging backwards on a bed as a tease for the nearly 8,000 word article on my penance for credit-hogging. The tattoos, though, they were painted on for effect. Sorry to disappoint on that front.

Anonymous said...

I don't even know what the hell that means.

But I accept that Sarah Weinman doesn't crave attention. Sorry. I stand corrected.

Sara Paretsky said...

Libby, thanks for the post. I'd like to add in memoriam Don Sandstrom, who was one of the most gallant and beloved of all 'ziners, back in the era before the Web. When he was in hospice, dying of leukemia, a number of us, including Gary Niebuhr, and people as far afield as Marcia Mason from San Diego, would gather in his room, along with his daughters where his usual good cheer kept us going but made us break down at the same time. Gary called it "The Don Con," and it is one of the high privileges of my life that I got to be there.

Sara Paretsky said...

p.s. We need to require anonymous posters to number themselves. Like, is this anon creature the same who's opposed to contraception, or is that a different one? Are they all the same? How can we tell?

Barbara D'Amato said...

Sara--that's an extremely good idea. I've wondered frequently which was which.

Picks By Pat said...

You can make tens of dollars reviewing books?

Holy #$%@! Where do I sign up?

Sean Chercover said...

Great and true post, Libby (and great addition, Guyot).

Anonymous - Why so bitter?

Ali Karim said...

Hi - i'd like to jump in [a tad late] as I've been busy.

Libby your post was very sweet, thanks for taking time out to write those words.

While Mr or Ms. Anon - you are obviously a bitter and jealous individual. You can't even sign your name which just goes to show your lack of backbone.

I rely on Sarah for her informed opinion and information which enriches the writing / reviewing world.

Keep up the great work Sarah

Ali

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