I write from 16 stories above Times Square.
I’m in New York for the Edgar Awards, but we’ll get to that later. First, I want to tell you about car horns, and how, even though they are about 200 feet in the air, I can still hear them blasting.
That was the first thing my wife noticed when we got off the plane and got into an Uber outside LaGuardia Airport.
Every time one exploded, Mal flinched as if every sonic boom was directed at her. What struck me most was the duration of the explosions – just how long some of these drivers were willing to install. There were short poles, too. An alien robotic police siren. It felt like we were in a whole new world, complete with its own language.
Add the eerie sounds of the cityscape rising through the passenger-side windows, towering above us, and having to bob to see the tops of the buildings, and one thing becomes clear—we weren’t in (ar)Kansas any more.
Mal is a small-town girl, through and through. But she worked butt prepared for the trip. She is not a fan of flying, big crowds, or confined spaces. So yeah, New York City isn’t exactly her idea of a good time.
To her surprise, and mine, we loved every second of the four days we spent in the Big Apple. We covered a lot of ground too, going 10 miles each day, zipping from Chinatown and Tribeca to SoHo and then all the way back to Times Square again.
We didn’t have an agenda, no checklist of things we wanted to see. We just ventured out of our hotel each morning, straight into the heart of the “concrete jungle”.
And yes, the streets of New York City were a strange, strange land for us, but we found serenity among so many people. New Yorkers are getting a bad rap; We encountered some very nice people during our stay.
Maybe she gave us a St. Louis Cardinals hat. Maybe that’s why people seemed to be looking out for us. Or maybe it was just the starry look in my eyes, the pure astonishment of finally being in Empire City.
For the past six years, I’ve dreamed of one day taking a trip up north. My passion was mainly publishing. New York is the center of the book world. Mal kept telling me to go. Just book a ticket and go see all these agents and editors I’ve been adoring forever.
But I wanted a reason to go to New York. Deep down, I wanted my work to get there. And last week, I did.
“Don’t Know Tough” was nominated for a First Novel Edgar Award, which is basically like an Oscar for the mystery/thriller/crime genre. Nearly all of my literary heroes were crammed onto the dance floor, along with my agent, publisher, and editor.
Nobody said much about whether or not I would win. Nobody said much of anything about the prize ever. The competition was intense. Honestly, I didn’t feel like I had a chance.
It was nearing midnight when they finally started naming the nominees in my category. I was tired. My throat was dry. My agent punched me on the knee, but didn’t say anything. Nobody said anything but the presenter, and he was saying my name.
What happened next is still not true. Mal said a few words I can’t write in the newspaper, then jumped up and kissed me. I hugged the rest of the team before running to the podium. I didn’t write a letter. I am very superstitious. I was afraid if I actually put pen to paper, I’d feel bad about it.
If you want to hear me walk around, you can find the video on YouTube.
The speech is not important. The prize is not. Not real. It was an honor to just run, to see a part of the world I’d never seen before, and to take a trip I’d been dreaming of for half a decade.
All of it was great. certainly. But the most important part of this whole wild adventure was the people.
Since I didn’t write a letter, I’m done not naming some of the most important people in my literary life. Juliet Grames, Bronwyn Hruska, Paul Oliver, Johnny Wink, Mike Sutton, and everyone else who made this possible…
… Thank you.
Eli Cranor is the author of the critically acclaimed I Don’t Know Tough and The Ozark Dogs. He can be reached using the Contact page at elicranor.com and can be found on Twitter @elicranor.