All hail the Pinckley Prizes

 

Four days after returning from Bouchercon, the annual crime fiction convention held this year in New Orleans, I’m almost recovered. Bouchercon deserves its own post, and will get it.

But one of the highlights of the long weekend was this year’s ceremony to award the Pinckley Prizes. The awards for crime fiction by women writers take their name from Diana Pinckley, who write the “Get a Clue!” crime fiction column for the Times-Picayune for 23 years.

Pinckley died in 2012 and, to honor her memory, the Women’s National Book Association of New Orleans established the award to honor her memory. There are two prizes—one for a first novel, and one for body of work—and I was honored to be the debut author who received that inaugural award.

Sara Paretsky

Sara Paretsky

Christine Carbo

Christine Carbo

Laura Lippman won for body of work that year, and the prizes were given out at the annual Tennesese Williams/New Orleans Literary Festival. The 2013 winners were Nevada Barr and Adrianne Harun (debut novel, A Man Came Out of a Door in the Mountain), and this year, Sara Paretsky won for body of work. My fellow Montanan, Christine Carbo, won for her first novel, The Wild Inside.

I am in awe of the level of writing by Lippman, Barr and Paretsky, authors at the top of their game. The fact that the Pinckley Prizes puts debut novelists in proximity to those outstanding in the field is a vote of affirmation, and also incentive not to squander the faith that has been placed in us.

I wish I’d been able to meet Pinckley (all her friends refer to her by her last name). But this video, stemming from her involvement in Women of the Storm — a group of women who sought to bring attention to the devastation caused by Hurricane Katrina — gives a sense of her personality. I’m told she also wore purple cowboy boots, clue to an exuberant spirit that might not come through in the video.

So, an annual thank-you to the WNBA and the Pinckley Prizes committee, and I’m already looking forward with great anticipation to see who next year’s winners will be.


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