Award-winning mystery writer Sandra Balzo and Absolutely Amazing eBooks Publisher Shirrel Rhoades presented J. E. Irvin of Springboro, Ohio, with the inaugural Jeremiah Healy Mystery Writing Award on Saturday, August 15, during the annual Mystery Writers Key West Fest, a three day mystery genre festival set in the tropical paradise of the Florida Keys.
Irvin was one of four finalists in a nation-wide competition for the prize, which garnered her a book-publishing contract with AAeB, free 2016 Mystery Writers Key West Fest registration with hotel accommodations for two nights, and a bobble-headed Jerry trophy.
Sponsored by AAeB, the award salutes late author Jeremiah Healy’s legacy as a beloved and influential mentor credited with helping and advising many aspiring authors. Writers from all over the country answered the call that invited candidates to submit the first three pages of a finished, unpublished mystery manuscript.
“Jerry often said a book either captures a reader in the first three pages … or it doesn’t,” commented Shirrel Rhoades, who co-produces the Mystery Writers Key West Fest along with Mad Mick Murphy Key West Mysteries author Michael Haskins. “We agree with that assessment and decided to use it as a yardstick for a writing competition in his honor. He helped us get the first Fest off the ground, and this way we will keep him as a part of it in future years.”
“The quality of the entries we received was excellent,” said Balzo, Healy’s fiancée and lead judge. “Jerry would have been both honored and impressed.”
Irvin says her submission, titled “Dark End of the Rainbow,” is a portrayal of the corrosive effects of secrets and the healing power of love. The other three award finalists and their titles are: “All Hocked Up” by Jack Bates of Rochester, MI; “Portside Screw” by Gregory S. Dew of Ponce Inlet, FL; and “Square Grouper” by Lewis Haskell (previously identified under the author’s pen name, Crichton Lewis) of Key West, FL.
Unable to attend the Fest due to a recent surgery, Irvin accepted the honor via Skype.