A big time in the Big Apple

A number of you have asked me about the Edgar Awards and my trip to New York last week. Here’s the full scoop, complete with about a zillion photos!

It all began with this:

Edgar Awards invitation

And why was I invited to attend the Edgar Awards banquet? Because my book ABSOLUTELY TRULY was a nominee! As you may know from my previous blog posts, this was cause for much excitement, much laughter at “Dress to Kill” (gotta love that), quickly followed by much panic — I’ve never been to a black tie event in my life! What would I wear? And what would my husband wear?

More on that soon…

Meanwhile, it was time to pack our bags and hop on a plane to New York.

Cascades from planeCascade Range from 30,000 feet

See why I love living in the Pacific Northwest? This was the view as we left Seattle, flying over the Cascade mountains. Sigh.

It’s always a treat to fly through Seattle. And I mean that literally:

Dilettante Chocolates SeattleDilettante Chocolates kiosk

Whenever we have a layover at Sea-Tac, I make a beeline for Dilettante. Fabulous hot chocolate! And so many choices!

Dilettante signDilettante’s menu

Make mine milk chocolate, please. Mmm. Wonderful!

But there were wonderful things awaiting us in New York, too, including this:

HVF at S&SWelcome display at Simon & Schuster 

This is what greeted my husband and me when we stopped by my publisher for a celebration. (Ignore whatever weird thing my left hand is doing, OK? We’ll just chalk that up to an excess of excitement.) Simon & Schuster had not just one but THREE books nominated for the Edgar Award!  Huzzah!

Stuart Gibbs, Naheed Senzai & HVF at S&SStuart Gibbs, N.H. Senzai & moi

On the left is Stuart Gibbs, standing in front of his absolutely hilarious book SPACE CASE. In the middle is Naheed Senzai, with her tender and moving story SAVING KABUL CORNER. Me? I’m the one with my eyes shut, dazzled by all the talent in the room!  Which includes the walls behind us–they’re covered with book jackets featuring award stickers for things like the Newbery and Caldecott medals. So cool!

After the celebration, it was time to go back to the hotel and grab a nap before the award ceremony. Hello, jet lag! And then it was time to get ready…

Steve & Heather at EdgarsJames Bond Steve Frederick and me

This was the selfie we took in our hotel room, before making our grand entrance. In over 30 years of marriage, I’ve never seen my husband in a tux before. I was dazzled…

Heather & Steve glammed up for the EdgarsAll glammed up for the Edgars

And here we are, dressed to kill indeed! I accessorized with this:

Edgar Awards badge

Woohoo! And with sparkly silver shoes, which you’ll see in a moment. The MWA (Mystery Writers of America) gave us each a swag bag…

Edgar swag bag

… which included this fun item:

Poe bandages


Simon & Schuster placed a full-page ad in the program showing off our books:

S&S Ad Edgar program

So cool! Thank you, S&S!

Here’s a picture of me with my smart and lovely editor, Kristin Ostby. Kristin is Stuart’s editor, too. (She’s good at her job.)

Stuart & Kristin & HeatherStuart Gibbs, Kristin Ostby & moi

I gawked at several celebrity authors, including Sara Paretsky and Stephen King (too shy to introduce myself to either one), and I met the amazing Lois Duncan:

HVF with Lois DuncanHVF with Lois Duncan

Lois is the author of such books as I KNOW WHAT YOU DID LAST SUMMER and HOTEL FOR DOGS. I’ve been reading WRITTEN IN THE STARS, a newly-published collection of short stories she wrote and published in her teens. Impressive! She was being honored with a “Grand Master” award.

Mostly I hung out with my friends who also write middle-grade mysteries, though:

Edgar Juvenile nomineesN. H. Senzai, Marcia Wells, Stuart Gibbs, moi, Kate Milford

This is the only picture I have of the vivacious and fun Marcia Wells, who is as sparkly in person as the dress she was wearing. I laughed out loud reading her terrific EDDIE RED UNDERCOVER: MYSTERY ON MUSEUM MILE. Love that Eddie!

After the cocktail party and photos, it was time to go into the swanky ballroom for dinner.

Edgar Awards menuEdgar Awards banquet menu

Mmm. It was delicious. The decorations were awesome, too–and some of them were edible!

Edgars atmosphere

Here’s a closer look at the white chocolate Edgar Allan Poe…

White chocolate Edgar

…which I didn’t get a chance to taste, because my agent Barry Goldblatt beat me to it!

Agent steals chocolate Edgar

Speaking of Barry, like my editor Kristin Ostby, he had not just one but TWO clients nominated for an Edgar — yours truly and Kate Milford!

Barry Goldblatt with Kate Milford & HVFKate Milford, Barry Goldblatt & moi

And Kate’s book won! Deservedly so, because GREENGLASS HOUSE is a very special book and a wonderful read–I hope you all rush right out and snag a copy!

After the award ceremony, we all hung out for a bit and basked in Kate’s reflected glory.

HVF & Kate post-EdgarsHVF & Kate

Kate and I compared shoes:

Sparkly Edgar shoes!

We both like sparkles. Mine are the silver ones, hers are — appropriately! — gold. And here’s her Edgar award:

Kate's Edgar award

Fun, huh?

And then the party was over. But the city still beckoned, and there was a full moon over Manhattan…

NYC night Spring 2015Grand Central Station and the Chrysler Building

My two favorite buildings in New York, captured together right outside our hotel!

There was so much more to explore. My husband and I stayed on for an extra couple of days to get our fill of this amazing city. We walked for miles (seriously! we estimate we walked at least 15 miles in two days), downtown to 2nd Avenue Deli…

2nd Avenue Deli

… for the best pastrami sandwiches ever.

Then uptown to Central Park, which was in swoony full bloom…

Central Park Spring day 2015

Central Park

Central Park April 2015

Central Park Spring 2015

We stopped to refuel at Cafe Sabarsky in the Neue Galerie with Viennese kaffee und kuchen (cake and coffee) — mmm, Sachertorte for me — then walked back down Park Avenue enjoying more spring blossoms…

Dogwoods on Park Avenue

Next up? A play about Winston Churchill (James Bond my husband isn’t wild about musicals, so we settled on a subject of mutual interest).

Churchill set

Excellent choice! We loved it!

After that, it was time for a late-night bite. Like tuxedos and elegant long dresses, the Fredericks don’t do dinner at 10 p.m., but we did in NYC! We met up with my dear friend and former colleague Diane Roback, who steered us to Empanada Mama, a 24-hour spot (because let’s face it, who doesn’t have those occasional 3 a.m. empanada emergencies?) over on 9th Avenue that was FABULOUS!

Steve at Empanada MamaHappy customer

Just the sustenance we needed to face another long day of walking ahead. Next morning, we lit out for the High Line.

High Line sculptureSculpture along the High Line

If you’re ever in New York, you must walk the High Line! It’s a repurposed elevated railroad spur that’s now a mile and a half long park and walking trail. Great panoramic views of the city and the Hudson River, wonderful trees and plantings, and a very fun vibe. Plus, the new Whitney Museum of American Art has been relocated to the end of it on Gansevoort Street. We were going to stop in, but it was opening day and the lines were long and the day was gorgeous so we just kept on walking…

Hot Chocolate at City Bakery

… until our feet took us to City Bakery for hot chocolate. Because really, when is it never the right time for hot chocolate? Unfortunately, their homemade marshmallows were out of season (what? since when is there a season for homemade marshmallowy goodness?), so we had to drink our cocoa straight up. It was as excellent as I remember from the last time I was here. (Can you tell that I am a hot chocolate afficionado?)

And then it was time to say goodbye to New York and head home. Flying south from Seattle we dipped over Mount St. Helens and her stunning caldera (thank you, Alaska Airlines)…

Caldera of Mount St. HelensMount St. Helens – so close I could practically touch it!

…and arrived in Portland, where we were greeted by this sweet little face:

Billie -- Spring 2015Our dog Billie 

She missed us, and was happy to have us home again! And we were happy to be home, too, where our Pacific Northwest spring is in full bloom…

Rhodies in Gabriel Park

 … and where I have this to keep as a reminder of a magical trip to the Big Apple!

Edgar Award nomination certificate

A hero, a church, and a BFF

So I know you’re all dying to find out where I’ve been.   Sorry to disappoint you, but it wasn’t a top-secret mission.  And it wasn’t a research trip, either.  At least not originally.  It was just supposed to be a little getaway with my BFF.  That changed once we arrived at our destination, however, as so often happens when I’m traveling.  For us writers, story ideas lurk in the most unexpected places…

And this time, that unexpected place was the middle of nowhere–the tiny town of Fulton, Missouri, to be exact.

(Sorry Fulton, I don’t mean to insult you, but you kinda have to admit you really ARE in the middle of nowhere…)

The first thing you see when you drive into town is the church.

Church of St. Mary the Virgin, Aldermanbury

Isn’t it gorgeous?  That’s because it’s a Christopher Wren church.  Wren was the legendary 17th-century English architect who designed St. Paul’s Cathedral in London, one of my favorite spots in the whole world, which played a part in my book Spy Mice: Goldwhiskers.  So how did this church, built in England in the 12th century, destroyed by the Great Fire of London in 1666, restored and rebuilt by Wren only to be destroyed again in 1941 during the Blitz of World War II, the church where the poet John Milton was married and where Shakespeare–Shakespeare!— most likely worshipped–end up in MISSOURI of all places, you ask?  Ah, therein lies a tale.

And the tale begins with Winston Churchill, one of my heroes.  Here’s a picture of him:

Winston Churchill

See that quote above his head?  It says “Criticism is easy, achievement is difficult.”  I love that!  Winston was full of great sayings like this — in addition to being Prime Minister of Britain during World War II, he was also a writer.  More on that in a minute.

First, though, let’s turn the clock back to 1946.  The war has been over for a year; Churchill is no longer Prime Minister. Westminster College in Fulton, Missouri (believe it or not this tiny town boasts not one but TWO fine liberal arts colleges — Westminster and William Woods University) decides to invite Churchill to give a speech.  But how to convince this world-famous statesman to make the trip?

President Harry Truman was in the White House at the time, and he and Churchill were great friends.  It just so happened that a Westminster College alum worked at the White House, and he offered to give the invitation to Truman first and see if maybe he would add a personal note as an enticement. Truman did, telling Churchill that this college was in his home state of Missouri, and that he’d be glad to accompany him and introduce him if he agreed to come.

Long story short — Churchill DID come, Truman DID accompany him (apparently the two played poker all the way from Washington on the train), and the speech was a huge success.  In fact, it became one of Churchill’s most famous, and in it he coined the term “Iron Curtain” and warned the world of the communist threat and the coming Cold War.

Have I lost you?  Sorry — I’m kind of a history wonk.  Did you know that about me?  And you wonder where Darcy Hawthorne gets it…

Fast forward a couple of decades.  In 1966, the college decided to create a museum to honor Churchill and commemorate the 20th anniversary of his speech.  The church of St. Mary Aldermanbury, meanwhile, which had been bombed out during the war, was still in ruins and slated to be bulldozed. It was given to the college, who transported it stone by stone to Fulton, and restored and rebuilt it to house the museum in its basement.

So Patty, my BFF (yes, the same Patty to whom I dedicated Home for the Holidays) and I had been talking for a while about a wee getaway next time I visited St. Louis, where I often go to see my son, who attends college nearby.   She knows I love history, and she’d heard of Fulton, so that’s how we ended up there.  We stayed at this adorable B&B called the Loganberry Inn:

Loganberry Inn

I was in the Margaret Thatcher room, where the former prime minister stayed (yup, the very same one that Meryl Streep portrayed in the movie The Iron Lady, and for whom she just won an Oscar) when she came to Fulton in 1996 for the 50th anniversary of Winston Churchill’s famous speech.   Patty was across the hall in the William Woods room.  It was just like being back in college together!  We put our pajamas and robes on and stayed up late watching a movie and talking, and snacking on the inn’s famous homemade cookies.  Breakfast the following morning was amazing — I wish I’d thought to take a picture of it for you.  The apple French toast was both glorious to look at and even more glorious to eat…

Also glorious was the inn’s dog Logan, a most adorable little Shih Tzu.  Here he is snoozing on the rug in the parlor:

What could be nicer than an inn with a resident dog who likes to snuggle with the guests?  Logan spent a very happy half hour in my lap after we got back from the Churchill Museum.


Tomorrow:  More fun in Fulton — and another dollop of history — as we peek inside the museum, tour the church, and learn a writing tip or two from Winston Churchill!