What Happened at the 31st Annual Benjamin Franklin Awards
You each know that Tiger Drive was nominated for the IBPA Benjamin Franklin Award in Popular Fiction alongside these amazing authors and their novels:
Float Plan by Rob Hiaasen
Guarding Savage by Dave Edlund
Better Than This by Cathy Zane
I read each of the above novels, and as I finished each book, I had to pinch myself. They are Five Star books. Yes, I believe in my novel, Tiger Drive, but being compared to these authors and their works was an award in itself. So I packed my bags and headed to Chicago for the Benjamin Franklin Award Ceremony, knowing that one of them would win the Gold, and I wanted to be there when they did.
And then this happened.
Tiger Drive won! I’d like to say that I jumped out of my seat and ran to the stage, said something brilliant, thanked all the right people, and strutted like this back through the tables with hundreds of supportive authors.
But what actually happened is this . . .
IBPA’s Chief Executive Officer, Angela Bole, announced the four nominees for Popular Fiction. Huge screens on either side of her flashed the covers. And as with the other 53 categories, the screen went blank, and we waited for the winning cover to pop up on the screen. I was calm, curious to see which of my three fellows won because I had no idea how the judges could’ve chosen between them. And then this larger than life book cover popped up:
What did I do? I didn’t smile. I didn’t jump up and run to the stage. I just sat there, staring at that screen. My new friend, Mary Claire Branton, the founding director of Charlie’s Port which publishes works by child authors, and whom I had just told minutes before about the Tiger Drive Scholarship and more, gave me a gentle nudge to get up and move. “You won,” she said gently. (Thank you, Mary).
I walked toward the stage, praying I wouldn’t trip, weaving my way through dozens of smiling, supportive faces, and reached the stage where IBPA member Christopher offered a hand for the stairs (thank you, Christopher). At the top of the stairs, Angela Bole (who is witty, funny, and knows how to address a crowd) shook my hand, gave me a gold box in a black sleeve with the BFA lucite, and then waved me toward the microphone.
And . . .
I have no idea what I said. Truly.
When I got back to my table, the husband of Sandra Smith, the author of Seed Savers-Treasure (which was nominated for Cover Design: Children’s/Young Adult), took a picture of me and handed me his phone so I could text it to myself.
I texted Ted and my younger brothers and sister to whom Tiger Drive is dedicated. And then for the rest of the ceremony, I did everything in my power not to cry. The narrative in my mind was something like this: Me? Teri Case? Teri Case from 41 Tiger Drive in Carson City, Nevada?
Because friends, sometimes you can take the girl out of the dysfunction and craziness of Tiger Drive (circa 1985), but sometimes, that girl, with all her fears that she would never get out no matter how hard she worked and tried, can surprise you by showing up thirty-three years later to say, “I’m still here, but I’m leaving you now.”
Thank you, dear subscribers, IBPA, and my fellow finalists for sharing this journey, and thank you for being you.
May your dreams come true,