Monday, October 30, 2017

CWA Daggers Dinner

I'm just back from the Daggers Dinner, the big event of the Crime Writers Association year when the celebrated Daggers are awarded for the best crime in a range of categories – historical, thriller, non-fiction, international, debut, short story – and then the Gold Dagger for the best crime book overall.
This year the winner was  Jane Harper for The Dry, published by Little Brown.

But the highest honour of all is the famous Diamond Dagger, presented for a career of ‘sustained excellence’ in writing crime and it is, of course, the most coveted. The first winner, in 1986, was Elmore Leonard and he has been followed by writers such as PD James, Eric Ambler, Ruth Rendell, Ed MacBain and more recently Lee Child and Peter James. It's a beautiful trophy, designed originally by Cartier.

This year's worthy winner was Ann Cleeves. Her two series, one set in Shetland and featuring Jimmy Perez, and the other set in the north of England and featuring Vera Stanhope, are hugely popular on TV as well as on the printed page.

The occasion itself was very stylish. Two hundred and fifty guests gathered in one of London's hotels – authors, publishers, agents, journalists, publicists – for fizz, a dinner and an excellent, entertaining and very self-deprecating speech by the man who wrote Death in Paradise. I don't know if you get it in America and Canada but it's a delightful, tongue-in-cheek TV series where an old-fashioned British detective, who still believes in gathering all the suspects together at the end for the denouement, finds himself in a tropical island where the police service isn't run in quite the same way as it is here in Britain. I'm addicted to it for Sunday evening viewing.

I've never been in the happy position of being on a Dagger shortlist – or is it unhappy? Getting the award is obviously wonderful, but oh dear, the nerves before the envelope is opened and the horrible necessity of appearing a good sport afterwards when it's not your name that comes out must make it a miserable evening.

So much for fame and glory! The rest of us could just raise our glasses to the winners and enjoy the evening.


Marianne Wheelaghan said...

Sounds like you had an exciting evening and that you were in some very good company! I "listened" to The Dry while driving to France this summer. It was very gripping, a worthy winner indeed. Another winner I really enjoyed was The Dying Detective by Leif G.W. Persson,translated by Neil Smith (winner of the CWA International Dagger).
Well done, Anne Cleeves. Her Vera books are my favourites.
Ohh, I'd have been interested to hear the writer of Death in Paradise's speech (cant remember his name now) I believe he was the winner of a BBC writing room competition and that his script was rewritten x times and, finally, very much a collaborative effort. I understood he doesn't actually write it any more – but this all second hand information (AKA gossip!) from a script writing chum so cannot be verified. I do enjoy Death in Paradise though, it's good fun. Perfect viewing for a Sunday evening :)

Aline Templeton said...

Yes, it was a good night, Marianne. Robert Thorogood is the writer and later episodes may well have been written by someone else though he's still involved. He was eloquent about all his rejections! He's very worried about Brexit because this was a French-BBC collaboration and would be too expensive for the Beeb on its own. I think he's now working on a book.

Sybil Johnson said...

Sounds like a wonderful evening. Death in Paradise is on Netflix and I have it on my Watchlist, but I haven't actually watched it yet. I shall have to do that soon.