By far the best thing to have happened to me as a result of becoming involved in the community of crime writers is the people I have met. More friendly acquaintances than I can name here, and a large handful I hope I am not flattering myself to refer to as friends. I mean no disrespect to any of them when I single out Charlie Stella today.
Those active in the crime fiction community—readers or writers—know about Charlie. Critically acclaimed, not infrequently compared to George V. Higgins, Charlie is the gold standard for organized crime fiction. What those who have not been fortunate enough to get to know him are unaware of is, in a community as close-knit and supportive as crime fiction writers, no one is more supportive and genuinely happy about the success of others as Charlie Stella. His blog (Temporary Knucksline) is filled with political musings, reviews, opera excerpts, rants about the Buffalo Bills and New York Rangers, and tireless encouragement and recognition of other writers, from crime fiction stalwarts to his fellow writers at Southern New Hampshire University’s limited residency MFA program. It is no exaggeration to say I would not have a book contract had it not been for Charlie’s intervention.
It’s the MFA bit that is of interest today. Charlie graduated over the weekend, and was selected by his peers to deliver the graduation address. Middle fifties, with eight critically acclaimed novels under his belt, Charlie Stella went back to school while keeping his day job to get a degree. That, amici, takes stugotts.
Congratulations, mio amico, for having done what few would contemplate; of those who do consider it, far fewer will make the attempt. Your considerable gifts as a writer pale in comparison to your enthusiasm and generosity of spirit. Thanks and congratulations are also in order for the Principessa, Ann Marie, the resident Muse at Casa Stella.
Everyone who knows you is happy today, not just because of what you have done, but who you are. I’d pay money to be a fly on the wall of the first class you teach. I don’t care who they are or what they think they know, they ain’t ready.