Fan Guest of Honor, Bouchercon (World Mystery Convention) 2006, in Madison, Wisconsin.
Fan Guest of Honor, Malice Domestic, a convention that celebrates the traditional mystery, 1994, in Bethesda, Maryland.
Winner of a 2007 “Special Services” Anthony Award, presented at Bouchercon 2007.
Winner of the Anthony and Macavity Awards for best nonfiction of 2006 for Mystery Muses: 100 Classics That Inspire Today’s Mystery Writers, which I edited together with Austin Lugar.
Winner of the Agatha, Anthony and Macavity Awards for best nonfiction of 2002 for They Died in Vain: Overlooked, Underappreciated and Forgotten Mystery Novels, which I edited.
Winner of the Agatha and Anthony Awards for best nonfiction of 2000 for 100 Favorite Mysteries of the Century: Selected by the Independent Mystery Booksellers Association, which I edited. This book was also a Book Sense 76 selection of the American Booksellers Association.
For The Drood Review (which I edited and published 1982 – 2005):
Nominee for the Anthony Award for best fan publication of 2003.
Nominee for the Anthony Award for best magazine/review publication of 1996.
Winner of the American Mystery Award for best fan publication of 1989.
A resume of sorts
I’ve worked in bookselling since 1987. For four and a half years, I was the new book buyer at Spenser’s Mystery Bookshop on Newbury Street in Boston. In 1992, my wife Jennie and I moved to Kalamazoo, Michigan where we opened Deadly Passions Bookshop, a 1100 square foot store on the city’s downtown mall. We specialized in Mystery, Romance and Science Fiction/Fantasy. When we opened, downtown Kalamazoo was a lively and thriving place with 15,000 downtown jobs and plenty of stores and restaurants. But once we moved in, we spent seven and a half years watching Kalamazoo move away from us. Both of the city’s major employers underwent mergers and takeovers that sent their corporate headquarters (and thousands of jobs) out of state. The city’s General Motors plants closed. In January 2000, when we closed our store, we were surrounded by vacant space — every other adjacent store, including the hometown department store that had been a city fixture for decades — closed first.
In 2003, we opened a new store, The Mystery Company, in Carmel, Indiana, the first suburb north of Indianapolis. In 2007, we moved The Mystery Company to a new location in Carmel’s Arts & Design District. We closed this store in February 2010, at which time we moved to Ohio where I managed the Kenyon College Bookstore, the third oldest independent bookstore in the nation, for five years. In May 2015, we moved to Pennsylvania, where I’m now the Director of the Bryn Mawr College Bookshop.
From 1982 to 2005, I edited and published The Drood Review of Mystery, a newsletter devoted to reviews and previews of new mysteries. Though our circulation was small, the Drood was well-respected in the genre, and our statistical data on new releases was widely cited by other genre publications, including the newsletters of the Mystery Writers of America and Sisters in Crime. This is a link to one reader’s comments about Drood.
I run a small book publishing company, The Crum Creek Press, that originally grew out of my work on the Drood. I began in 1989 by editing and publishing reference books for mystery lovers. One of these reference titles, 100 Favorite Mysteries of the Century, which grew out of the IMBA project, was a Book Sense selection; this book also won the Agatha and Anthony Awards for Best Reference title in the genre in 2000. This book has also been translated into Japanese. Another one of my reference titles, They Died in Vain: Overlooked, Underappreciated and Forgotten Mystery Novels (2002), also won Agatha and Anthony Awards, plus a Macavity Award and a Readers’ Choice Award (given by the Love Is Murder conference). Mystery Muses: 100 Classics That Inspire Today’s Mystery Writers, which I co-edited with Austin Lugar and published in Fall 2006, won the Macavity and Anthony Awards for best nonfiction of 2006; it was also an Agatha Award nominee. These three books are a kind of project I especially enjoy, books that bring together a large number of energetic, passionate and diverse opinions. In fall 2009, Austin and I published Organizing Crime: The Mystery Company’s Guide to Series.
Between closing Deadly Passions Bookshop in Michigan in 2000 and opening The Mystery Company in Indiana in 2003, I thought a lot about the kinds of books that I wanted to be able to sell in my store. In particular, I thought about how the policies of the big New York companies didn’t match up with the preferences of mystery readers, who want to start a series with book #1. The result was a new imprint, which shared its name with my store, devoted to paperback reprints of books that I knew I’d want to recommend to my customers and that I thought other booksellers would also be able to sell as well. At the same time that I opened the store, in February 2003, I published the first Mystery Company title, Kate Flora’s Chosen for Death. In 2005, I published the first original fiction and the first hardcover in The Mystery Company publishing program, In a Teapot, a new Scott Elliott novella by Terence Faherty. This book was a nominee for the 2005 Dilys Award, presented by the Independent Mystery Booksellers Association to the book member stores “most enjoyed selling” in 2005, and also a 2006 Shamus Award nominee for best novel. This book won a 2006 Benjamin Franklin Award, presented by the Publishers Marketing Association. We’ve since gone on to publish two more original titles in hardcover. In 2009, we started doing digital versions of our fiction titles; we now publish on the Kindle, Kobo, Nook, iTunes and Smashwords platforms, in addition to print.
I served as the volunteer director of the Independent Mystery Booksellers Association (www.mysterybooksellers.com) for four and a half years. During my tenure, I set up the association’s website and our e-mail discussion list, organized a response to Barnes & Noble’s proposed acquisition of Ingram (including writing to federal regulatory agencies and meeting with my congressional representative), and conceived of and coordinated the association’s 100 Favorite Mysteries of the Century project.
I served two terms on the board of the Carmel Clay Public Library’s Friends group. I helped to rebuild the Friends’ membership database from the ground up, recruited volunteers for book sales and other Friends’ events, and helped to evaluate Friends’ store operations as it transitioned from a gift shop into a used book store. In 2006, I served as President of the Friends board.
From 2006 through 2011, I served on the board of Sisters in Crime — the first “brother” to join the board. Sisters in Crime (sistersincrime.org) is an international organization devoted to combating discrimination against women in the mystery genre.
For three years, 2007-2009, I was the subject matter expert on mysteries for What Do I Read Next?, a semi-annual guide to genre fiction published by Cengage Gale. My contribution to each volume of this big reference book consists of 200 synopses of current mystery books, classifying the books on various dimensions to aid Readers’ Advisory librarians, plus an overview essay on current genre issues.
For nine years, 2000-2008, I volunteered as the Program Director for Magna Cum Murder (www.magnacummurder.com), a festival for mystery lovers that takes place in Muncie, Indiana, usually the last weekend in October. I set up all of the sessions, from designing session formats to assigning authors to panels. I’ve worked hard to find new ways for authors and readers to connect in a conference setting, adding wide variety of interactive session formats to the standard five-writers-on-a-dais format. I continue to help out in an advisory role, and hope to see you at this event!
In 2009, I hosted Bouchercon 2009, the World Mystery Convention, in Indianapolis, working with co-chair Mystery Mike Bursaw. We welcomed about 2400 mystery lovers — 1650 adults and 750 youth — to the Circle City for a five day conference designed to celebrate the genre. Our slogan was “Elementary, My Dear Indy!”
I’m a 1982 graduate of Swarthmore College. My degree, oddly enough, was in Political Science, which goes to show what a great liberal arts education will do for you. At Swarthmore, I edited the student newspaper and I helped found the science fiction/fantasy club known as SWIL (Swarthmore Warders of Imaginative Literature). SWIL is still going strong.
Finally, I coached seven seasons of outdoor youth soccer, two seasons of indoor soccer and two seasons of basketball in community rec programs in Ann Arbor and Carmel, Indiana. The experience of trying to get querulous and, often, clueless first through fourth grade girls to work together as a team was immensely rewarding (despite pretty lousy won/lost records — I don’t really know that much about soccer), and it taught me a lot about patience and about working together.