Brought to you by OBS reviewer Andra W
Where was I on June 6, 2015 you ask? Well….. I was at Prose in the Park, an initiative of Ottawa’s writing community for the first major open air literary festival/book fair in the Nation’s Capital! At let me tell you…it was FANTASTIC.
After reading the programming for the day, I knew I had to attend the 3:30 pm panel discussion With Criminal Intent with the following Canadian authors (left to right on the stage):
Dave Whellams (The Drowned Man: A Peter Cammon Mystery), Barbara Fradkin (The Inspector Green Mysteries), Vicki Delany (the Constable Molly Smith Mystery Series and the Klondike Mystery Series), Brenda Chapman (Butterfly Kills), Erika Chase (The Ashton Corners Book Club Mysteries), R.J. Harlick (Meg Harris Mysteries.)
I was fortunate enough to sit in the front row and thus able to hear all questions and answers…and here is what I heard:
- What type of mystery do you like to write?
Vicki: I like to write many types of mysteries. Presently, I am writing a cozy mystery and I am having fun with that. It is light, not serious. I like shaking it up, keeps the writing fresh and engaging.
Barbara: I like to read gritty, psychological mysteries. So that is what I like to write as well (I am a retired psychologist).
R.J.: I tend to explore particular issues, relating to today, to native traditional ways throughout the book. My books are quite edgy. For example: Green Place for Dying delves into very dark places. A Cold White Fear was a very difficult book to write – it will be out in November 2015.
Erika: Nothing perverse. Most of my mysteries have one body, but I have written one book with two bodies. I like to add romance in to the books – bringing in a lighter side to compensate for the murder.
- Is there a line beyond which you won’t go?
Vicki: Yes. No torture – either mental or physical because I just don’t want to go there. Or child abuse. No sex scenes. I started as a romance writer – but my daughter said that she would never read one of my books, so I switched genres.
Brenda: No line as of yet. I won’t Harlequin romance. I do not want to write about gratuitous violence.
Erika: I agree with Vicki actually.
R.J.: I won’t write about psychopathic serial killers, I just won’t go there.
David: Similar to Vicki.
Barbara: I have similar views as Brenda. At this point, I am still willing to explore.
- Concerning research – how much do you do?
Brenda: I perform some research. I use Google. For the series I perform research to get accurate street names. I will take field trips with my husband to see if the location will work.
Erika: I do research on the internet and from people in the location for the book, to see if my “ya all’s” are correct. Basically, making sure the local vocabulary is accurate. For my new series, which is set in Burlington, I will go on a field trip to see if one can get to the river from the town. Is what I have written feasible and can be accomplished?
R.J.: I believe in doing research. I want to make sure that how I reflect the traditional ways of the aboriginal peoples is correct – so research is very important. I will visit wild places, the Gun club at the RA Centre, I have tried holding a gun so that I would know what it felt like. I find that it is fun performing research.
David: I do lots of research – on guns, settings, in context only.
Barbara: Research is important and I do a lot of it – theme of the book, location, etc.
Vicki: I do as little research as I can get away with. But some research is necessary. I researched Canadian policing by ride alongs, walk alongs, attending the shooting range. Historical components of my books are research.
- Do you use comic relief in your novels?
Erika: I do use some humor in the dialogue.
R.J.: I like using light moments. However, there is not a lot of humor in the books that I write.
David: Not a lot of humor in my books either.
Barbara: My books are gritty and realistic so humorous scenes go a long way in bringing out other sides of the character.
Vicki: I try to write humor books. I feel that my Lighthouse Library Mystery and Klondike series contain humor.
Brenda: I use comedy to provide relief for serious moments, but this is mostly in my novellas.
- How do you decide who did the crime (whodunit) and when is this decided?
Erika: I know when I get started who the killer is but as the writing progresses, this can change.
R.J.: I never have a clue whodunit. I have a general idea who the victim is, the setting, and location. If I know ‘whodunit’ then so might the reader.
David: I always know whodunit.
Barbara: Don’t know whodunit. The story evolves so may change during the process of writing.
Vicki: I like to know the whole story in the beginning. I write a detailed synopsis and I usually stick to it.
Brenda: I pick the crime and who the killer is but that is all.
- Who do you prefer to write – the villain or the protagonist?
R.J.: Both. I like writing Meg as I know her now. But I do like writing the villain.
David: I prefer to write the protagonist, his reaction to evil and crime. I tend to focus on him.
Barbara: Both fascinate me in their own way. I find it fascinating exploring all potential villains.
Vicki: The type of book is important. The villain/bad guy drives the story.
Brenda: I like to write about the protagonists.
Erika: Both; I like getting to know the main character. With villain’s I can cut loose, their motives are intriguing.
This ended our question and answer period with the panel of authors. I then got to drop by the writers booths and take a gander at their wares up close and personal.
Dropping by Vicki Delany and R.J. Harlick’s table – So many books to choose from, but choose I did (By Book or by Crook and Silver Totem of Shame):
Barbara Fradkin, Erika Chase, Brenda Chapman:
She has authored the following two titles:
Rebecca was regaling her road to publication. It was interesting to hear that originally the books were electronic but that people began clamoring for the written word in physical form. How wonderful is that!!! In this day and age of all things electronic, I find it refreshing that her fans still want the written word in book form.
I like to read genre’s which are new to me, so following a great conversation with Rebecca, and my desire to see this young author prosper in her chosen field, I am now armed with anticipation, these two books and a desire to read this evening. My reviews will be available here at Open Book Society in due time.
I also had the pleasure of conversation with Kass Williams, author of:
Kass described her current work in progress The Elf Conspiracy. An unusual tale it seems. I was given a free sample booklet of the story. I shall devour this 50 page teaser, I am sure.
Ms. Williams also has written a non-fiction book, Workplace Bullying: A Survival Guide. Ms. Williams has been a guest speaker on this subject at seminars for employment equity organizations, unions, conflict resolution professionals, and others.
I must say….this was a spectacular day. I loved hanging out with purveyors of the written word. Listening to many authors describe their process, taking the time to speak with the readers. And of course, we were all VERY thankful that Mother Nature played nice and the day was sunny and warm and thus no harm came to any of the books in attendance. ☺