When Alexa and I arrived for the pre-banquet cocktail party, I immediately searched the crowd for a friendly face and spotted F. Paul Wilson nearby. The first thing he did was introduce me to John Lecroart, whose books I remember very well from my bookseller days. I was instantly starstruck by this crowd.
I have to say, though, thank goodness for Paul. Every time I introduced myself to anyone, including ultrafamous authors like R.L. Stine, Paul would be sure to add, "Nick is a nominee tonight." I'm so glad he did, because I would have felt like a douche telling people that myself. Paul should be every nominee's handler at every awards ceremony!
Thank goodness for Hank Wagner too, another friendly face in a crowd of mostly strangers, who let us sit with him at the banquet. He and Alexa immediately hit it off, and the three of us had a blast. We also sat with author April Smith, who was very nice and promised to root for me during the awards ceremony.
Unfortunately, Chasing the Dragon did not win. Richard Helms' story from Ellery Queen, "The Gods for Vengeance Cry", did. Outraged, I overturned the table, shouted "This is bullshit!", threw my drink in Douglas Preston's face for no reason, and stormed out of the ballroom.
Okay, none of that happened, except for Chasing the Dragon not winning. But it was a huge honor to be nominated for this prestigious award, and so much fun to be there in person. After the awards were all handed out, Ken Follett gave a great speech introducing R.L. Stine, who in turn gave a charming and funny acceptance speech for his Thrillermaster Award that had us all cracking up. He seems like a great guy.
At the after party we got to meet--again, courtesy of Paul--my fellow nominee Harley Jane Kozak, whom we also hit it off with right away. It's too bad she doesn't live in New York City because we would totally hang out with her all the time. Then, just as we were leaving, Alexa and I spotted Douglas Clegg in the crowd and we went over to say a quick hello before jumping on the subway back to Brooklyn.
All in all, a wonderful, glamorous night. Everyone was so friendly and welcoming to this nervous newcomer, and everyone congratulated me on being a finalist. I'm so glad we went. I'm looking forward to next year's Thrillerfest already!