Wednesday, September 22, 2010



Last year at Bloody Words, Louise Penny leaned across the dinner table to Denise Mina and me.

“Tell me,” she asked. “Have you ever used poison to kill any of your victims?”
Without missing a beat, we both replied that we preferred simpler methods. I was partial to the good old, reliable bludgeon. Denise used fists, and on occasion, a sword. No one else at the table batted an eye at either the question or the answers. Where else, I ask you?

Recently I’ve been thinking a lot about the meaning of life. Lest you think I’m having visions of my own mortality, I’m not referring to the meaning of LIFE, but rather the meaning of my life as a writer. Perhaps it’s because I have an eighth book about to be released in my Ottawa-based Inspector Green series and I face a new round of launches, pre-holiday mall signings, and do-it-yourself tours. Or perhaps it’s because my writing career has just taken a couple of new and exciting twists involving a new series and concept as well as a creative-nonfiction endeavour which is still in its infancy. Or perhaps because I am increasingly immersed in this surreal, disconnected world of cyberspace blogs, Facebook, and virtual friendships.

In my more frenetic moments, I wonder why exactly I am doing all this. I could be retired – as indeed some people think I am and wonder what I do with myself all day. I smile politely. And sometimes wonder that myself.

Then there are times when it all makes sense. When I hold the newly published book in my hands for the first time, or I receive an email from a stranger saying how my book touched them, or I share wine and cheese with a book club during a lively but warm-hearted discussion of my book.

Or when I get together with the wonderful, like-minded friends that I have met in this new career. Meeting other writers, sharing laughs, laments, triumphs and abysmal stories, is one of the most unexpected but profound joys of the writer’s life. It keeps me sane, inspires me when my interest flags and comforts me during those pits of despair we all stumble into. And most of all, it provides a community of kindred souls.

Travel, conferences, dreaded mall signings and lonely book tours are all turned into whacky adventures by the company of old friends and the discovery of new ones. And perhaps this, even more than the thrill of a new book or the poignancy of an reader’s email, provides the best answer to that question I have been pondering of late.

To paraphrase a TV ad about that dinner table; Bloody Words $190, green dress $150, gold sandals $85, that moment between kindred souls… priceless.

Barbara Fradkin is a child psychologist with a fascination for how we turn bad. In addition to her darkly haunting short stories in the Ladies Killing Circle anthologies, she writes the gritty, Ottawa-based Inspector Green vels which have won back to back Athur Ellis Awards for Best Novel from Crime Writers of Canada.

The eighth in the series, Beautiful Lie the Dead, which explores love in all its complications, is in the final proofing stage and is due out in late October 2010.


  1. You nailed it! There are wonderful friendships with other writers and readers too. There's no life like it. And as for poison, well ...


  2. Beautiful post, Barbara! I feel so lucky to be part of this warm and supportive community.

  3. I agree to all of the above. There is no life like that of a writer's.

  4. Very well said! It really is the experiences, feedback from readers and the friendships that keep one writing and the spirits up. Thanks, Barbara for putting it so eloquently.

  5. And thanks to all of you, for illustrating the point so well!