JULIA SPENCER-FLEMING: Vicki Delany is one of our favourite (note the Canadian spelling!) writers here at JRW. So much a favorite, that we, uh, invited her twice this summer. Oops. But we're glad, because Vicki's using her soapbox to do one of the things she does best: represent Canada.
Thanks to Julia for inviting me to do a guest spot on my favourite writer’s blog, Jungle Reds. I am such a fan of the blog, and the Reds themselves, I kinda like to think of myself as an honourary Red. (Note the ‘u’ in honourary.)
Because I am not famous for my organizing skills, I forgot that I had arranged with Rosemary to visit the blog in August to talk about my new book, A Cold White Sun, the 6th in the Constable Molly Smith series from Poisoned Pen Press.
So there I was, with an embarrassment of riches, having the opportunity to guest at Jungle Reds twice in two months. As gracious as ever, Julia suggested I take the chance to promote the organization of which I am National Vice President, Crime Writers of Canada.
What a great idea!
Let me introduce the CWC to those of you who might not be familiar with it. As its name suggests the Crime Writers of Canada is an organization of… Canadian crime writers. No brainer there.
We exist to promote Canadian crime writing and Canadian crime writers not only in Canada (where, sadly, we need a lot of promotion) but around the world. You don’t even have to be Canadian to be a member. You just have to be Canadian Friendly.
The group was established in 1982 and has grown steadily to its current 315. In 1994, the CWC established the Arthur Ellis Awards (AKA the Arthurs) for Excellence in Crime Writing. The Arthurs are open only to Canadian citizens and permanent residents, although the books can be published and set anywhere in the world. Or outside of it. Arthur Ellis, incidentally, was the nom de travail of Canada’s official executioner. A job that was finally eliminated in 1976.
Canada is a mighty big country (second largest land mass after Russia) with a relatively small population. We can’t exactly all gather at the neighbourhood pub one Sunday afternoon to talk writing. Nevertheless, one of the goals I have set myself in my term as National VP is to encourage a spirit of cohesion and community.
Last month I went on a three week book tour to the North West Territories and the Yukon (with a quick pop across the border to Skagway, Alaska) with my friend Barbara Fradkin. We were overwhelmed by the support of the Yukon CWC members, in particularly Jessica Simon, who organized two events for us in the capital city, Whitehorse. That’s two events in a city with a population of 27,000. Jessica peppered the town with posters advertising our visit, and drummed the woods to gather eager readers. In one case, quite literally. We were giving a reading in a parking lot outside a bookstore. Jessica provided a tent, camping chairs, and blankets in case of cold (which it wasn’t) and then she trotted over to the neighbouring WalMart parking lot and went from RV to RV suggesting people join us. (Why do RVers park outside WalMart when there is about a kazillion acres of wilderness a couple of kilometres down the road?) So many people came, Barbara and I gave up our seats and sat on the sidewalk.
In the Yukon, I began thinking about what the organization can do to make our members feel part of the whole Canadian crime writing community, just like Jessica did for us.
Next June, the Canadian mystery conference, Bloody Words, will be held in Toronto. As well as our not very exciting AGM, the CWC is planning a networking event. Something at which we can meet each other in person, and hopefully get to know more about the state of crime writing (and reading!) in further-flung parts of this enormous country.
Now, a word from our sponsor: Bloody Words is a fabulous small conference. Why don’t you consider coming? The theme this year is Danse Macabre: Historical Mysteries and the Dance of Death, but all types of mysteries, and mystery authors, from anywhere in the world will be featured. You might recognize the name of the Canadian Guest of Honour. Who is planning to wear a costume suitable for the event to the banquet. Click here to check it out (the conference, not the costume).
Perhaps the most important thing, aside from the Arthurs, that the CWC does is its quarterly catalogue of upcoming members’ books, Cool Canadian Crime. The summer 2013 issue is just out, so I’d like to invite everyone to have a look at what’s new and exciting in the world of Canadian Crime Writing.
If that whets your appetite, CCC backlists are always available on the web page, crimewriterscanada.com. You don’t even have to remember to look for CCC every quarter, use the subscription link on the web page (under the Books tab) to have CCC delivered straight to your e-mail box.
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To welcome you to the world of Canadian crime writing, I’d like to give away a copy of the book Barbara was touring the North for, Whisper of Legends, set in the incredible Nahanni National Park in the North West Territories. Leave a comment telling us who YOUR favourite Canadian crime writer is, and we will choose one lucky winner. Haven’t read Canadians yet? Then let us know of a book you’re looking forward to reading, and you’ll be entered in the draw too. Can’t think of just one? Heck, say Hi and that’ll be good enough.
Vicki Delany is not only the NVP of the CWC, she is one of Canada’s most varied and prolific crime writers. A Cold White Sun, the sixth book in the popular Constable Molly Smith series from Poisoned Pen Press, will be released in August. She is also the author of standalone novels of psychological suspense, and the light-hearted Klondike Gold Rush books from Canada’s Dundurn Press.
Her Rapid Reads book, A Winter Kill, was shortlisted for the 2012 Arthur Ellis Award for best novella.
Vicki is a member of the Capital Crime Writers, The Writers Union of Canada, and is on the board of the Crime Writers of Canada and the Wolfe Island Scene of the Crime Festival. She is proud to have been chosen as Canadian guest of honour for Bloody Words, the Canadian mystery conference, in 2014.
Having taken early retirement from her job as a systems analyst in the high-pressure financial world, Vicki enjoys the rural life in bucolic Prince Edward County, Ontario.