This week, I was nominated for a prize. Well, not me, exactly (to say that "I" was nominated for a prize makes it sound a bit like I was given the nod just for being me, which would be flattering, if rather unlikely) but The Book of Lost Things, which I wrote and for which I can therefore claim a certain amount of credit.
Being nominated for a prize brings with it a certain amount of trepidation. It's always nicer to be nominated than not to be nominated, but it's also nicer to win than not to win. Being a glass is half-empty kind of person, I suspect that I'll spend the weeks to come perfecting my resigned-but-not-bitter-in-defeat look. Actually, I've had a bit of experience with that one already, to be honest, and not just in the area of literary prizes, so it's not like it will be a stretch.
Every Dead Thing won a prize, the Shamus, in the US, but due to all sorts of confusion I managed to miss the ceremony and was eventually presented with my prize in a bar just before the staff decided to eject everyone, so "handed quickly and boozily" might be more accurate than "presented" in this case. It was still nice to receive it, though. In the UK, a judge on one of the big crime prizes announced that Every Dead Thing would be nominated over his/her dead body. In retrospect, that would have been a fair swap.
A couple of years later I was nominated for a literary prize, but I didn't win it. Rightly so: the winning book was better than mine, so there could be no argument. After the announcement, a very well known Irish critic and literary commentator who was present for the ceremony patted me on the arm and pointed out that I wrote quite well, and perhaps I should consider writing a proper novel. Actually, I think his exact words were "a novel more appropriate to my talents" but it amounted to the same thing. Now such comments are, to borrow a Gary Larson quote, "acid off a duck's back", but at the time I remember feeling a bit hurt.
Meanwhile, the gloss on another potential prize was slightly tarnished when a fellow writer told me that he had agreed to have his name removed from the ballot in order to "give someone else a chance to win". I don't know if the latter was true or not, but the fact that the author in question would even bother to say it revealed a lot about him. Silly sod.
I suppose that what is nice about this prize is that it's for the Irish Novel of the Year. I don't get nominated for stuff very often, and less so in my own country, so a nod of any kind is gratefully received. There is also the fact that I am, and am likely to remain, a genre novelist, even if The Book of Lost Things doesn't quite fit neatly into any genre I can think of. I will rarely find myself in the running for a more general literary prize, and the experience is rather flattering.
But, for now, it's back to The Reapers. And, you know, that's no bad thing either.
This week John read
Starter for Ten by David Nicholls
and listened to
Adjágas by Adjágas
Wincing the Night Away by The Shins