Initially there was some dissent amongst the committee members when we discussed the nature of the second ORBA. Two of our judges thought that it was somewhat demeaning to present an award for the Sexiest Author.
"We're not People magazine," one of them sniffed. No, we're not. But since the other five judges agreed, the two dissenters were overruled. (Sorry fellas!)
Because image does matter. Looks matter. Sex matters. We all hate that, but there's a lot of realities in this world we hate. And the unfortunate truth is, in publishing, like in any other sales business, image matters.
But hey, we get it. Nobody wants to be judged by the way they look. But it happens. It's reality and it doesn't matter if it's right or wrong.
Do you ever wonder why a man who writes brilliantly can only get a 5k print run? And then you meet him and he looks like a troll, smells worse, and stutters when he talks? There's your answer.
Or you read in the trades about a woman who can't write her way out of a paper bag, yet somehow keeps getting those fat contracts? Then you see her and she's utterly gorgeous? There you go.
Looks. Image. And, sex. Oh yes, our very favorite part. Sex definitely matters. That's why we've decided our second ORBA, and our first annual ORBA, goes to Jason Starr.
I know what many of you are thinking -- where's The Natural? Where's Barry Eisler? Isn't he considered the Sexiest Everything Alive? Well, that dear readers, is why we're picking these awards and you are not.
It is quite true that Mr. Eisler has those chiseled good lucks, that amazing blow-dried hair, those bedroom eyes, and that shadowy past to keep us intrigued. He's also an incorrigible flirt, which goes a long way towards making a man sexy. And if the sex scenes in his books are any indication, the man knows how to take a woman up against a wall.
But alas, by all appearances, Barry Eisler is madly in love with his wife and devoted only to her. A sweet sentiment, no doubt. But not a very sexy one -- not for us.
Our criteria for this award (most of us, anyway) was to imagine which author we would most like to be trapped in an elevator with. Alone. No books to sign, no cameras, no repercussions.
Maybe we've had a few cocktails -- maybe he's had a few (hopefully) -- and things start to get interesting. Barry Eisler, his soft hands and Percivalian smile notwithstanding, would not close the deal.
Jason Starr would close it with hammer and nail. Jason has those smoldering good looks, dark eyes and Samsonesque hair. He has, if we're being blunt, the whole package. (And yes, ladies, we do mean package.)
What's more, Jason is a bad boy. He's the guy our mothers warned us about, back when mothers still did things like that. On the surface he's all tortured artist. But underneath beats the heart of the Casanova of Crime, the Don Juan of Delinquency.
We've all read his novels. We've had drinks with him in out-of-the-way hotel bars. We've been in that elevator (in our dreams if not in reality).
And Jason is the real deal. When the elevators door close, the evening isn't over. With Jason Starr, it's just beginning. And that's why he's this year's winner of the ORBA for Sexiest (Male) Author Alive.
Congratulations, Jason. Ladies, we suggest you hang around the elevators at Bouchercon.