Monday, 27 November 2017

FRANKENSTEIN TURNS 200

New Year's Day 2018 marks the 200th anniversary of the publication of FRANKENSTEIN by Mary Shelley. It appeared on that day in in 1818 in a limited edition of 500 copies and received decidedly mixed reviews.

Now, Reel Art Press (R|A|P) has published an incredible volume by Gothic expert Christopher Frayling to commemorate the monster's 200th birthday.

Frayling provides critical insight into the genesis of the story, and as a special treat to readers the second half of the book is an extravaganza of archival photographs, poster art, and much more.

Kudos to RAP editor Tony Nourmand and book designer Joakim Olsson for producing another remarkable volume.

Read my review in the New York Journal of Books here.

Tuesday, 17 October 2017

BOUCHERCON 2017: HOME AT LAST!

Bouchercon, the world mystery convention that took place this year in Toronto, is now in the books. I'm home after a five-hour ride on the train on Sunday, a milk run that stopped at almost every town in eastern Ontario along the way including Belleville, Kingston, Brockville, and Smiths Falls. When the train finally reached my destination a few minutes before midnight, I swear that my entire body was a vessel of pain. Oh well, that's what I get for travelling economy.

This was my first time at a Bouchercon, and I thought it was a terrific experience. Thanks go out to Helen Nelson and Janet Costello, co-chairs, who organized a great convention.

Thanks as well to the remarkable Alison Bruce, executive director of the Crime Writers of Canada, who worked incredibly hard to make this a successful event for the CWC and its individual author members such as myself. I just don't know where she gets the energy. Also, my thanks to Cathy Ace, CWC chair, for putting us in the spotlight so effectively.

If you've been following my blog during the convention, you'll know what I mean when I say that it was a great opportunity for me to sit down with fellow crime fiction authors and chew the fat. (If you haven't been following, shame on you. Go back and read them and don't be such an uncaring churl!)

I should definitely mention CWC colleagues from Ottawa, including Barbara Fradkin, Brenda Chapman, Linda Wiken/Erica Chase, Mary Jane Maffini/Victoria Abbott (ah-choo), Mike Martin, and Robin (R.J.) Harlick. It was a pleasure to see you all again and catch up on stuff. And don't worry, Mary Jane, I didn't catch your cold.

Best of all, it was an incredible opportunity to meet readers and fans of crime fiction in its various forms. To the folks from Wisconsin, Nevada, California, and Scotland, among other places, it was a pleasure to listen to you talk about your lives and passion for the mystery genre, and I appreciate your interest in hearing about my work. I wish you all safe travels home.

Finally, to my fellow Canadians who attended and supported this country's authors from Louise Penny all the way down to Michael J. McCann -- we do it best, don't we?

Saturday, 14 October 2017

BOUCHERCON 2017, DAY THREE!

Day Three at Bouchercon 2017 was a very busy day for me. It started early, as I volunteered at the Crime Writers of Canada table at 8:30 a.m. to spend an hour enticing people to sign up for our newsletter and/or become a member.

The CWC was sponsoring coffee and treats in the refreshment area today, and at 10:30 a.m. I was one of several CWC authors sitting at a table chatting with fans attracted by the lovely pastries. I had a fascinating conversation with a retired couple from Mountain View, California. He was a retired NASA aerospace engineer who worked with their wind tunnel technology. When he was done telling me about his career, I told him frankly that what I do pales in comparison to what he's done. Mind-blowing stuff.

At 1:30 I was back at the CWC table signing up more readers, and at 2:30 I caught a bit of a very interesting panel discussion including Louise Penny, Mark Pryor, Heather Young and Laura McHugh on their "hidden pasts." Very entertaining.

On the way out of the hotel for a mid-afternoon break I saw Colin Cotterill and his wife sitting in the lobby, and he very graciously signed my copy of The Rat Catchers' Olympics. (Read my New York Journal of Books review here.) 

He told me he is a dog-lover and currently has seven, all street dogs he's rescued (he lives in Chumphon, Thailand). He told me he has started up a program to help stray "temple dogs," called WatDog2. They spay females, provide veterinary services, and so on. He has set up a PayPal link with the vet he uses, and they could use a little help. Colin explains the whole thing and provides the PayPal link in his website diary - you really should read this.

At 5:30 pm I was back at the CWC table for another hour-long stint. I should mention the table was managed by Alison Bruce, who's absolutely tireless. It exhausts me just thinking about how much stuff she does for the CWC.

Tonight there's live music down in the ballroom, and I think I'll slide down and give it a listen.

Tomorrow's getaway day, so I'll give you a wrap-up of the convention on Monday.

Catch you on the flip side.




Friday, 13 October 2017

BOUCHERCON 2017, DAY TWO!

Now that Day Two of Bouchercon 2017 is done, I think I can say I know the true meaning of the word fatigued. Every muscle aches, including the ones in my head, and it's time to blog and crash.

This morning I assisted for an hour at the Crime Writers of Canada table, where we were signing people up for our newsletter and selling memberships. Talked to a very nice retired couple from Chicago who have been attending these conventions for years. This genre definitely has great fans.

I sat in on a few panel discussions, including an interview of Margaret Cannon, the crime fiction critic I mentioned in yesterday's post. She is this year's Fan Guest of Honour. Boy, does she dislike Dan Brown's stuff. Yikes! But she ran through a long list of authors whose work she does like, so it wasn't all bad news.

Once again, I had a chance to meet/talk to a number of fellow authors, including Linwood Barclay, Mike Martin, and Kim Hornsby, and well-known acquiring editor Marcia Markland of St. Martin's Press, who's known for her extensive experience in international crime fiction. I also button-holed Texas mystery author Terry Shames as she was drifting past our CWC table and introduced myself to her. She has been surprised to discover how well-liked her stories are in Canada.

This evening I sat in on a reception for international authors attending Bouchercon and, yes, I was finally able to meet Colin Cotterill, whose Dr. Siri Paiboun series I greatly admire. Wow, I'll just be a silly fan until the day I die, I guess. What a blast to meet these folks and chat with them.

It's starting to get late, so time to draw the curtain on this great cityscape and another great day in mystery world. Tomorrow's a very early start at the CWC table, so goodnight, all!


Thursday, 12 October 2017

BOUCHERCON 2017, DAY ONE!

Day One of Bouchercon 2017, the world mystery convention underway in Toronto, is now a wrap for me, and it will soon be time to put up my feet for the evening and relax.

This morning I held what's called a "20 on the 20 Spotlight" session. These are 20-minute presentations/readings/Q&As that give fans a chance to interact with authors in a somewhat more intimate setting than the panel discussion events which take place in very large rooms.

Unfortunately, the venue for the 20 on 20s was hard to find, tucked away on a different floor somewhere between the broom closet and the freight elevator (figuratively speaking), so all the 20 on 20s, including mine, were sparsely attended. However, the show must go on, and so it did!

I'm not tired, just very thoughtful.
Afterward I headed down to the book dealers room to sign autographs. While I was there, I went across the floor and introduced myself to Margaret Cannon, the legendary Globe and Mail crime fiction book critic. I've always wanted to meet her, and while she can't review my work because her paper doesn't consider independent authors, she asked for a copy of SORROW LAKE because she wanted to read it anyway. Such a very nice person.

One of the great things about conventions is that you have a chance to meet people. I don't get out much, so that's a real plus for me. I had some great conversations with fans from Las Vegas, Wisconsin, California and Ottawa, and spent part of the afternoon getting re-acquainted with Toronto novelist Rick Blechta, who has to be one of the nicest people you'd ever want to meet.

Tonight is the opening reception, but I think I'm off duty as soon as I post this baby. I'm bushed.

Oh yeah, one more thing. This the view from my hotel room AT NIGHT. Catch you later.





Wednesday, 11 October 2017

ARRIVING AT BOUCHERCON!

At last, the day has arrived! This morning I drove up to the train station in Ottawa and set off for a weekend of crime fiction fun at Bouchercon 2017.

The ride to Toronto was four hours long, but I always find travelling by train to be relatively stress free. I ended up sitting next to a mystery fan who was also going to the convention. Small world!

I'm not really grumpy, just bushed.
Once I arrived at the Front Street train station in Toronto, I lugged my 90 lbs or so of luggage outside and up a few blocks to the hotel. It's been a while since I've been in this city, and it was nice to be back.

Now, as you can see from this experimental selfie taken in the station, I knew where the taxis were. So why the hang didn't I take one??? It's a mystery....

After checking in at the hotel, I registered for the convention and received my goodie bag, name tag, etc.  Good to go. Then I headed downstairs to the book dealer room to deliver my copies of SORROW LAKE and BURN COUNTRY to Sleuth of Baker Street, the local bookstore who will hopefully sell them all so I don't have to lug them home again! And darned if they didn't have copies of BLOOD PASSAGE and MARCIE'S MURDER already there from their store. Kinda nice.

While I was in the book dealer room I had my first intro and conversation with a fellow author not met before. Who do you think it was? Louise Penny. VERY nice person (my wife predicted it! yes you did, Lynn).

Oh yeah, one last thing. Here's the view from my hotel room.

Wow. Nice view.

Monday, 9 October 2017

BOUCHERCON 2017 IS COMING!

This coming week I'll be attending Bouchercon 2017 at the Sheraton Centre hotel on Queen St. in Toronto. This is the annual world mystery convention that brings together crime fiction authors, readers, publishers and booksellers for four days.

Attendees this year include Colin Cotterill, Rick Mofina, Louise Penny, Linwood Barclay and Joseph Finder, among many others.

This is the first time I'll be attending Bouchercon, so I'm very excited to see what it's all about. And I'll be pretty busy.

On Thursday, Oct. 12, the first official morning of the convention, I'll be delivering a 20-on-20 session in the VIP Room from 11:40 am to noon. I'll use my 20 minutes to talk about my work and to read a short (!) excerpt from SORROW LAKE. Will anyone show up? We'll find out!!!

I'll also be at the Crime Writers of Canada table set up outside the Book Room on Friday morning at 10:30 and Saturday morning at 8:30 (yawn!).  Then I'll move to the CWC table in the refreshment area at 10:30 am on Saturday and again at 1:30 pm.

If you're attending the convention, please stop by and say hello. If you're not attending, watch this space because I'll be posting updates every evening once I arrive in Toronto on Wednesday.

Here's hoping it'll be a great event!