The Story of Bony Blithe
Bony Blithe made her first appearance at the 2012 Bloody Words conference. Caro Soles, then-chair of the Bloody Words board of directors, interviewed her for the 2012 program book.
From 2002 onwards, every year that BW was in Toronto, we hosted the International Association of Crime Writers, North America Branch’s Hammett Award, an annual award for the best literary mystery by a Canadian or American author. The Hammett award is an elegant thin bronze human statuette with a falcon’s head.
The theme for BW 2012 was thrillers, and our GoHs were Linwood Barclay and Gayle Lynds.
Bony Pete was the mascot of the BW short story award, and Bucky was our life-size skeleton who usually appeared at the conference in a baseball cap and the year’s BW T-shirt.
I Am Bony Blithe
As told to Caro Soles
My name is Bony Blithe. There’s a much longer name on my birth certificate: the Bloody Words Light Mystery Award. What a mouthful, eh? You may know my little brother, Pete. Or maybe you’ve met my big brother, Bucky. He’s the one who gets around the most, hanging out at Word on the Street and at all the Toronto Bloody Words conferences. But I don’t care because right now, everybody’s talking about me, not him. Right? ’Cause I’m special! I’m an award worth $1000!
I didn’t expect to have my coming-out party with old Thin Man Hammett. He’s so cool I’m afraid he might steal my thunder. I mean, like, really! I am totally the star here, not him. Just so’s you know. Not that he isn’t totally cute in that older-guy, mean-streets sorta way, you know? But he’s so serious and literary and all that. Me? Haven’t you heard? Girls just want to have fun!
Not that I don’t have a brain. Don’t even go there, okay? I love to read! Hey, it’s just that I was born to make people smile. Everyone says so! And Hammett? Not so much. So as a date, that ain’t gonna fly. But I have my serious side, too, like I said. Just look at the books I put on my five favourites list. I mean, some are funny, right? But like, some have this heavy side, too, an underlying theme that’s real…you know, important. Some of the characters have, like, real problems? So that’s serious, right? Just not real mean streets.
I’m new, and sometimes people get a little uptight about me and demand an explanation of who I really am, what I stand for, and crap like that. I say, Why can’t we all get along, you know? Maybe it’s because I’m a girl and there’s all these guy awards out there, like Arthur and Hammett and Edgar, you know, those guys. But I hear there are girls in the States, like Agatha, and they like to have fun, too. And maybe some more girls I don’t know yet, so get over it. I’m the only girl award in Canada! And I’m special and funny, and sometimes serious with a small smile, and sometimes a big belly-laugh, real unladylike. But you want rules and regulations, you came to the wrong girl! Or so I thought.
I learned real fast I can’t do whatever I like. I can’t just choose an edge-of-your-seat thriller book by Linwood Barclay or Gayle Lynds, even though I love them. There’s this jury, you see, and these three crack the whip like you wouldn’t believe, reminding me the book has to make people smile, at least a little, and has to be by a Canadian writer, and blah blah yadda yadda. So a girl can’t choose just any old terrific book. I thought at first it’s just because I’m new they were riding me, but they say they will always be here, watching over me, making sure I keep curfew and follow all the rules. And then there’s The Bloody Board of Directors. They’re even worse. Yuck.
Maybe I can run away with Hammett. Those mean streets might be more fun than sticking around here. Though I hear that next year, my party is going to be all high falutin’ and posh at this place called the National Club where you have to dress up and that sounds totally awesome, so I guess I’ll stick around. Obviously this is the place for a fun-loving girl to be! And besides, it’s my award. Everyone is talking about me! So what not to like?