The Nellie Bly Award is an honor with echoes from my early aspirations as a writer. I remember reading a book about Nellie Bly and her investigative journalism at the women’s lunatic asylum (YES, that’s what it was called) on Blackwell’s Island in the East River. Now the upmarket Roosevelt Island, when I read the book it still had the old asylum buildings. I could stand on the promenade near the apartment where we lived and look and think about what it took for Nellie Bly to place herself in custody in that place.
Volunteering in a prison today is a far cry from placing yourself in an asylum in 1887, but my aspiration is the same: to bring the reader inside a world that is sealed off and full of secrets, to make the world inside come alive and speak to all of us. Whether he knew it or not, Mecca has been a secret Nellie Bly, and now he can report form the inside out.
We do not have a long story for this award but they have the category correct: