By Beth Terrell
This past weekend, the Killer Nashville Crime Literature Conference went by in a blur for me. As one of the conference organizers, I rarely get to see or hear the sessions, but I have the time of my life anyway. This year, I was thrilled to meet guest of honor J.A. Jance and law enforcement expert Lee Lofland, whom I've been wanting to snag for the conference for years. (Lee did six presentations that blew the attendees away.)
The high point of the conference for me, though, was Saturday's Guest of Honor/award dinner. There were a number of great moments at the dinner, including the look of surprise and utter delight on J.A. Jance's face when she was presented with the traditional Killer Nashville guitar. Of course, being given the SEMWA Magnolia Award for service to the chapter made me tingle from head to toe. (I've worn the little silver magnolia every single day since then.) But of all the wonderful things that happened at the dinner--and, in fact, the whole conference--the best was when event founder Clay Stafford announced the 2009 winner of the Silver Falchion.
The Silver Falchion is awarded to the attending author of the best novel published during the current or previous year, as voted on by the other conference attendees. With approximately 175 people in attendance, that's quite an honor. There were 14 fine authors nominated for the award, and the competition was fierce. Then Clay held up the shiny black-and-silver plaque and said, "And the winner is...Chester D. Campbell, for The Surest Poison."
Chester is the author of two mystery series, one featuring private detectives Greg and Jill McKenzie and the other, of which The Surest Poison is the first, featuring PI Sid Chance. Chester is a classy writer. His books are crisp, clean, and always professional. He's also a classy guy. "He'll do anything for anybody," his wife, Sarah said to me, and that is the absolute truth. Chester and I have been in the same critique group for more than a decade, and he has helped me every step of the way. He helped me get my first agent, he helped me get my self-published book reissued by a better publisher, and he's helped me become a better writer. He's also a role model when it comes to marketing and promotion: twittering, tweeting, Facebooking, Crimespacing, blog touring, live touring...whatever it takes, he's out there doing it, tirelessly and with gentility and grace.
Chester is a true gentleman, in the very best sense of the word. He's always been a winner, and now he has the plaque to prove it. I'm honored that he is my friend.
And congratulations, Chester. It couldn't have happened to a nicer guy.