In the spring of most of the years we’ve had this blog, we’ve done photo posts about the Dell Magazines Edgars/Readers Awards party, the Edgars banquet, and the Malice Domestic Convention. This is the second year in which we’ve had to hold our annual Readers Award party virtually, so we will have no photos to show. Instead, you can watch our 2021 awards video above or on YouTube.
The past year has, obviously, taken a toll on everyone, but it has reinforced for me something I learned many years ago when I went to give blood and the nurse doing the draw, on learning that I worked in publishing, starting talking about her addiction to romance novels and how they’d helped her through some terrible times. Romance has never been my genre, but after talking to that reader, I never again denigrated “bodice busters.” I saw that if the writers this reader followed really had the power to transport an audience from a sometimes cruel reality to another sphere entirely, then no matter what the genre, they were doing something both remarkable and useful.
During the worst months of COVID, I did not want to see submissions in which the virus played a role. COVID, and the need it has created for masking, is surely tempting subject matter for crime writers. Even so, the majority of our authors must have felt as I did about mining the subject for entertainment while in the thick of it; we saw very few submissions that mentioned the virus at all. It’s only now, when the worst appears to be past, that writers submitting to us are beginning to venture into this territory.
Some of the comments we received on this year’s Readers Award ballots expressed appreciation for the solace the stories in our issues provided during a troubled time. Although we (the editors) were thanked for it, credit really goes to the writers who soldiered on and continued to submit stories—in the instance of one of our most popular authors while also battling COVID. There are many people in other departments of Dell Magazines who also played heroic roles in keeping the whole enterprise going—none more so than our warehouse staff, who could not do their work remotely, and without whose courage we would not have been able to ship issues and fulfill subscriptions. Although this has been a hard year, it’s been one in which our company—and, I think, the mystery community generally—displayed unparalleled cooperation and concern for the greater good.
Normally, this yearly awards post includes the titles of nominated stories and their authors. This time, rather than name them, I’m going to ask you to join our party on YouTube, where you’ll not only hear the names of the winners and nominees, you’ll see some of them!
We appear to be coming out of this crisis and we believe we won’t have to party virtually next year, but until then, be careful and keep well.—Janet Hutchings