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Edna Buchanan is a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist who made her mark at the Miami Herald for nearly two decades on the police beat. After winning the Pulitzer in 1986, she went on to write a series of mystery novels whose heroine, Cuban-American Britt Montero, also is a crime reporter in Miami. In interviews, Edna Buchanan denied the Britt Montero character is her alter ego, claiming the fictional heroine is much more of an active participant in her news stories than she ever was in her own. Edna Buchanan also wrote several nonfiction books based on her experiences covering crime in Miami, including The Corpse Had a Familiar Face.
She was born in 1939 in Paterson, New Jersey. From the age of 7, she grew up in a household held together by a single parent. Her father, who worked in a factory, had deserted his wife and daughter. Money was tight, and Edna Buchanan held part-time jobs throughout her adolescence to bring in extra money. After high school, she wired switchboards in Paterson in the same factory where her mother was employed.
Edna Buchanan did not attend college or obtain any journalism training other than what she learned on the job. She fell into reporting after moving from New Jersey to Florida where she learned that the Miami Beach Daily Sun was hiring. The first job she had applied for, the Miami branch of the Paterson company where she had been responsible for wiring switchboards, was not hiring.
After switching to the Miami Herald, she stepped into the police beat and made it her own. In journalism circles in the 1970s, it was unusual for a woman to cover crime, murder and the morgue, and it was not a beat where many stayed long before moving on to another area of reporting. Despite the gruesomeness of what she was called on to report, including 3,000 murders over her career, she devoted herself to giving voice to the victims for 18 years. In addition to the Pulitzer Prize, she also won the George Polk Award, a highly respected journalism award given by Long Island University, and the Green Eyeshade Excellence in Journalism Award given by the Society of Professional Journalists. Her mysteries have twice been nominated for the Edgar Award.
Edna Buchanan is an avid animal lover who has owned a number of pets, all of them rescued strays, including a rabbit, cats and dogs. She has been divorced twice. She met her first husband, James Buchanan, while working at her first newspaper job. Her second husband was a Miami Beach policeman, Emmett Miller, who went on to become police chief.
Frequently Asked Questions
Who is Edna Buchanan and why is she well-known?
Edna Buchanan is a renowned American journalist and author, celebrated for her crime reporting and mystery novels. She gained fame as a crime reporter for the Miami Herald, where her sharp eye for detail and compelling storytelling won her a Pulitzer Prize in 1986. Buchanan's work has been distinguished by her ability to bring the stories of victims and law enforcement to life, providing readers with an authentic glimpse into the world of crime and justice.
What notable achievements has Edna Buchanan accomplished in her career?
Edna Buchanan's career is marked by several notable achievements. She won the prestigious Pulitzer Prize for General News Reporting, which is a testament to her exceptional journalism skills. Buchanan is also the author of numerous books, including crime novels and non-fiction works. Her first book, "The Corpse Had a Familiar Face," is a memoir detailing her experiences as a crime reporter, and it solidified her reputation as a leading figure in crime journalism.
How has Edna Buchanan's work impacted journalism and crime reporting?
Edna Buchanan's impact on journalism and crime reporting is significant. Her vivid and concise reporting style has set a standard for crime journalism, blending human interest with hard facts. She is known for her ability to tell a complete story in just a few words, a skill that has influenced generations of journalists. Buchanan's work has also highlighted the importance of ethical reporting and the need to humanize crime stories, respecting the lives affected by them.
What are some of Edna Buchanan's most popular books?
Among Edna Buchanan's most popular books are her Britt Montero series, which follows a Miami crime reporter. Titles like "Contents Under Pressure" and "Miami, It's Murder" have captivated readers with their thrilling narratives. Her non-fiction work, "The Corpse Had a Familiar Face," provides a gripping account of her experiences on the crime beat and is often cited as a must-read for aspiring journalists interested in crime reporting.
Has Edna Buchanan received any awards or recognition for her writing outside of journalism?
Yes, Edna Buchanan has received recognition for her writing beyond her journalistic achievements. Her crime novels have garnered acclaim, and she has been honored with awards such as the Edgar Allan Poe Award from the Mystery Writers of America. This award is a significant accolade in the genre of mystery and crime fiction, underscoring her talent as a novelist and her ability to craft engaging, suspenseful stories.