The Edgar! Also, butterflies, a space shuttle, and a really big snake.

photo credit: Rocco Staino, SLJ

As some of you may have heard, last week Icefall won the Edgar Award in the Juvenile Fiction category! I am honestly still a bit stunned. The nomination alone took me completely by surprise, to say nothing of actually winning. But I’m so thrilled and honored, and I’d like to say thank you to the Mystery Writers of America.

I flew to New York City last week for the big banquet, which is a very fancy black-tie event. I actually went out and bought a suit for it, since I didn’t own one. But I’m getting a bit ahead of myself. The day before the banquet, I participated in a great panel with some of the other Edgar nominees, including Sheela Chari, Maureen Johnson, Todd Strasser, and Tom Angleberger. The topic of the panel was how we write for modern readers, and there were lots of witty and insightful things said by my fellow panelists. And Tom made us all laugh.

Prior to the banquet, we went to a reception for the nominees, and I have to say this part of the night was something I’d been anticipating for months, because Neil Gaiman was a nominee in the short fiction category. I was looking forward to the opportunity to meet him, shake his hand, and say thank you. As I was writing Icefall, I struggled with how to incorporate all the Norse mythology in an organic way. I wanted it to feel integral to the story, an essential part of the whole. And so I studied American Gods, because nobody does myth better than Gaiman. And I’m grateful that I was able to tell him all of that in person.

After the reception, the banquet began. It opened with a personal, videotaped message from John Cusack (who is currently staring as the man himself, Edgar Allan Poe, in the new movie The Raven) which, as a fan of his, I thought was super cool. Then, for the next hour or so, I tried not to think about the award. I just did my best to stay calm, eat my dinner, socialize, and for the most part I succeeded. But as soon as the presenter for my category took the stage, a tidal wave of nerves and heart palpitations crashed over me. And when they called my name, I got up and gave my acceptance speech in a daze. I’m still not exactly sure what I said. I know I quoted Richard Peck (“We write by the light of every book we’ve ever read.”) as a reference to the very bright light Gaiman had shined on me.

In fact, after the banquet I was able to give Neil a copy of Icefall, and that’s something I’ll remember for a long, long time.

During dinner, I was sitting next to School Library Journal’s own Rocco Staino, and he captured a photo and a video of me right after the announcement. He also wrote up a nice article on the event.

Congratulations to all the other nominees. I’m glad I was able to spend time with them, and if you’re looking for good mysteries to read or suggest to kids, I highly recommend every one of their books. (And for a bit more on each of them, try this article from the Christian Science Monitor.)

I also have to take a moment to once again thank my agent, Stephen Fraser, and my editor, Lisa Sandell, as well as Candace Greene and Lauren Felsenstein and all the other wonderful folks at Scholastic who have been so supportive of my career.

And just for fun, some more photos of NYC:

Saint Patrick’s Cathedral

The top of the GE Building at Rockefeller Center

A bag-piping busker outside Grand Central Station

The Hayden Planetarium, where my wonderful editor took me to see a show – amazing!


After the Edgars, I flew to Washington DC for the Malice Domestic conference, where Icefall was nominated for the Agatha Award. My fellow Edgar nominee Shawn Thomas Odyssey and his wife were on the same flight, a flight which had the amazingly good fortune of being on the runway right as the Space Shuttle Enterprise came cruising in on the back of a 747.

Taken by the nice guy next to me, who had the window seat.

The conference itself was a lot of fun. Such a nice group of people. Every person I talked to made me feel welcome, and though I didn’t win the award, I had a great time. Congratulations to the winner, Chris Grabenstein, and all the other nominees.

While in DC, I managed to catch a metro train to the Smithsonian for a couple of hours before my flight out, where they had a couple of new exhibits. The first was of the recently discovered “Titanoboa,” also known as the HOLY-CRAP-IS-THAT-A-SNAKE-boa. Seriously, this 50 foot, 25oo pound monster could strangle just about anything. One of the fact sheets on the creature posed the question, “What did Titanoboa eat?”

The answer?

“Whatever it wanted.”

That's an alligator tail sticking out of its mouth.

The other exhibit I caught was a butterfly atrium, which was one of the most serene and beautiful things I’ve experienced in a long time. They say that watching fish lowers your blood pressure. Well, I think watching butterflies has the same effect.


And finally, a few more reviews of Icefall from around the web:



Book’em Benj-O

The Book Snitch

Story Snoops

Random Musings of a Bibliophile

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13 responses to “The Edgar! Also, butterflies, a space shuttle, and a really big snake.”

  1. Yay!! I was so happy when I heard Icefall won! And your post is so full of amazing that I don’t even know how to comment on it. (Gaiman! Giant Snake! Space shuttle!) So I’ll just say congratulations.

    CONGRATULATIONS! *throws confetti*

  2. Wow! Wow! And Double Wow!
    Congrats, Matt! I must say, I’ve always thought of both you and Neil as guys who get the artistry side of literature–while having great hair to boot. 😉 It’s nice to see your success. I shall raise a glass of Amontillado in honor of your win.

    • I will say thank you sincerely for the congratulations, but not for the compliment on my hair. My hair is nowhere near Gaiman’s in greatness.

      Will you be at SCBWI this summer? I’m on the faculty this year, giving a couple of break-out sessions.

  3. Alas, but it is very unlikely that I will be there. It saddens my heart–especially since you’re presenting for the first time. Next year for sure! For now, I’m counting on you to enter a joke in my stead.

    On the plus side, my critique group has heard my annual raves, and a few of them will be attending for the first time. Yay!

    • Well tell them to find me and say hi! And I’ll probably email you the joke prompts. That way, you can feed me some entries, and I can win for once.

  4. Man, just when I thought that I couldn’t be any more envious, a picture of you interacting with Neil Gaiman surfaces. If this continues, you will surely transform into my nemesis.

  5. I know I’ve said it already, but, congratulations! Also I have to mention, Lily loves Titanaboa! She watched the documentary on national geographic and loved it, but was also sad it didn’t show Titanaboa fighting a T-Rex. I am excited to show her your picture 🙂

    • Titanoboa vs. T-Rex! Now THAT would be amazing! Unfortunately, Titanoboa came along after whatever killed off the dinosaurs. As epic as that battle would be, it wasn’t possible. But shh, don’t tell Lily.

  6. Actually the previews for the special showed it fighting a T-Rex and asked the question “who would have won”. You should YouTube it :). Lily knows Titanaboa wasn’t in the Cretaceous (thanks to Dinosaur train and a million dinosaur books), but she just really wanted to see the fight that the preview advertised. Oh well, we watched the preview again, and again. 🙂

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