By Harlan Coben
This is a guest blog post by Harlan Coben. Bestselling author Harlan Coben was the first author to win the trifecta of the Edgar, Shamus and Anthony Awards. His newest book, HOLD TIGHT, will be available in April 2008.
That’s MWA’s original slogan, dating all the way back to 1945. Catchy, isn’t it? The current board of MWA thinks it’s catchy too. They also think it is high time we returned to making that our top priority.
How? By developing innovative new programs while returning to the founding principles of MWA. This bigger, better, revamped and redesigned website is a perfect example. I invite you to cruise around and explore its pages. There is a great deal there to help all of us achieve our career goals. While you’re at it, take a glance at the list of past presidents who have uttered that slogan — Ellery Queen, Raymond Chandler, John D. and Ross MacDonald, Phyllis Whitney, Mary Higgins Clark, Sue Grafton, Elmore Leonard, John Dickinson Carr … you get the point.
We are and remain the most storied organization representing the interest of the professional crime writer. We want all of you to achieve. We also want to reverse the trend of "ghettoizing" our readership. Forget terms like "cozies" or "private eyes" or "historicals" or "thrillers." They limit and marginalize our readership. Mystery Writers of America, the oldest group for crime fiction, wants readers to find you all.
When I first joined this organization, one of the elder statesmen told me something I have tried to take to heart: No one has to fail so that I can succeed. Isn’t that beautiful? I like that as much as (maybe more than?) the “crime doesn’t pay enough” thing because it is so true. We don’t compete with each other. If someone reads a great mystery novel by another author, that isn’t a lost sale to you —that’s a reader who will want to buy and read more books.
In short, we as members of Mystery Writers of America rise and fall together. We benefit not by grabbing as big a slice of the pie as we can for ourselves and our niche — but by increasing the size of that mystery-lovin’ pie. That’s what we at MWA should aim to do.
Much as I admire the names I listed above, I would argue that we are now living in the Golden Age of mystery writing. Never in our sixty-plus year history have there been more wonderful scribes writing better books and displaying more diversity than now, today, in the year 2008. We need to embrace our wide range and educate the readers to the new and exciting world that awaits them within the covers of our books.
I’m honored to serve.