Last year at Bouchercon Baltimore, I attended with Roger Jon Ellory the Shamus Awards at Westminster Hall, the last resting place of Edgar A Poe. I was fortunate to share a table with Charles Ardai of Hardcase Crime and had a wonderful time. After the event I managed to nail a long interview with Bob Randisi – the PWA president who explained the background to the PWA Shamus Awards -
Ali I really enjoyed this year’s Shamus Awards at Westminster Hall in Baltimore, and I plan to attend each year, so can you tell us about how you set up the PWA?
Bob In 1981 I found I was corresponding with many private eye writers. I thought I could do it much easier through a newsletter of some kind. I asked all of them to send me a quarter each for postage if they were interested. I did a second one and asked everyone to send me a dollar for printing and postage. From there I figured it was time for a Private Eye Writers of America. I charged $25 for dues and in 27 years we’ve gone up to $50. I created the Shamus Award because I noticed that over a period of about 30 years only three PI novels had won an Edgar—and one of those was a young adult novel.
Ali I believe Christine Mathews organises the Shamus Awards Banquet. How much work is entailed in setting up such a major event?
Bob She’s amazing, in that she manages to find people over the phone and through emails who will work with her when we have a small budget. Somehow, these strangers and she manage to pull the event off without a hitch—well, without a MAJOR hitch. It’s only been two weeks since Baltimore and she’s already planning the events in Indianapolis, San Francisco and St. Louis. She works very hard for at least six months, then lets me get up in front of people for 60 minutes and take the credit. So I’m glad you asked this question. She is determined each year to 1) take people out of the convention hotel to some other part of the city, 2) do something unusual and provide great food, 3) somehow, top the previous year.
Ali How do you feel now that the Shamus Award has become so prestigious in promoting the PI sub-genre of mystery fiction?
Bob I’m very proud of the award and of the members of this organization. It is, rightly so, the second most prestigious award in mystery after the Edgar. I became even more proud after Sean Chercover’s acceptance speech this year, when he said that when he started writing in his teens his goal was to win a Shamus Award. I felt old, but I also felt inordinately proud. And it’s the membership of PWA that keeps the genre going, and maintains the high level of writing and storytelling.
Read the Full Interview here with the prolific and talented novelist Bob Randisi.
So it was with pleasure I got news of this years Shamus awards from Bob Randisi and Christine Mathews -
The PWA Shamus Award Banquet will be held Friday, Oct. 16, from 6:30-9:00 at The Slippery Noodle, the most popular blues bar in Indianapolis. Good food, great music, and the Shamus Awards. Tickets are $50 and are available now. Reserve your place asap as seating is limited. Email Bob Randisi at RRandisi@aol.com with your home address and an invitation will be sent to you.
I hope to see you guys there!
Photo (c) 2008 Ali Karim - Charles Ardai and Reed Farrel Coleman getting their Shamus Awards at Westminster Hall - Baltimore at the PWA Shamus Banquet