Wednesday, July 20, 2011


Behind the Scene of the Crime

Most people don't realize it, but the Scene of the Crime Festival is the brainchild of crime writer Therese Greenwood. A Wolfe Island native herself, Therese had long felt that the Island would make the perfect setting for a mystery writing festival. "What could be more perfect?" she said at the time. "Everyone loves the idea of an island. What could be more intriguing and mysterious? Hey, we could call the festival 'Scene of the Crime'." The first thing she did was recruit her partners in the mad scheme, Maureen Lollar, member of the Wolfe Island Business and Tourism Association (WIBTA), and myself, a fellow crime writer. Once we were all on board, the conspiracy . . . um, I mean the planning for the first Scene of the Crime Festival was on its way.

As the old saying goes, it's better to be lucky than good. When the Festival was still in its very early stages, Therese and I attended a Sherlock Holmes symposium where we learned from David Skene-Melvin – noted historian of Canadian crime writing – that Grant Allen, himself a Wolfe Island native and a friend of Arthur Conan Doyle, was considered Canada's first crime writer. Therese immediately realized what a stroke of luck this was for the Festival. "I can see the press release now!" she said, pointing out that this simple connection could bring the Festival national recognition.

Still, we started out small, testing the waters of local interest and support that would be so necessary for long-term success. And so the first year centred around the first of the Festival's terrific church suppers. Maureen organized the food, while Therese and I recruited Canadian mystery writers Peter Sellers and Mary Jane Maffini, who was president of Crime Writers of Canada that year. We brought in a number of local writers and celebrities, such as Rose de Shaw, Margaret Knott, Rene Marshall and Captain Brian Johnson, of the Wolfe Islander III. Therese also managed to snag a long-time mystery fan and well-known broadcaster Roy Bonisteel – did I mention that Roy's her father-in-law? Did I already say something about it's better to be lucky than good?

That first church supper featured readings, book signings, door prizes, and a silent auction. Since then the Festival has expanded into an all-day event, adding author panels, a lecture, a writing workshop and a short story contest in the second year. In the third year we began honouring Canada's crime-writing pioneers with the Grant Allen Award.

By the way, each speaker at our very first dinner, on Saturday 24th, 2002, was asked to write the beginning of a mystery story, using Wolfe Island as its setting. Why just the beginning of a story? What better way to honour where it all began, and to represent the start of what's become one of Canada's most important crime-writing festivals?

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Violette Malan's short mystery fiction has been published in the Canadian anthologies of the "Ladies Killing Circle", in the noir anthology Crime Spree, and in the magazine Over My Dead Body. Her erotic has been published in Penthouse. She is co-editor of "Dead in the Water", an anthology of crime and mystery fiction and she is co-founder of the Scene of the Crime Festival on Wolfe Island.

Violette's first fantasy novel, "The Mirror Prince", was published by DAW (New York) in 2006. "The Sleeping God", the first of her Dhulyn and Parno novels, was published in 2007. The series has continued with "The Soldier King" in 2008 and "The Storm Witch" which was released in September 2009. Her most recent novel, Path of the Sun, was released in Sept. 2010.


  1. And what a terrific festival it is! Tons of fun from the moment we step onto the ferry in the morning to the time when the church supper is over and everyone staggers happy and exhausted onto the return ferry that evening. I wouldn't miss it for the world.

  2. Thanks for this, Violette! I was at the first one and have been to others and always love Scene of the Crime. Really looking forward to 2012 too.

  3. Thanks for this, Violette. I was at the first one and have attended on other occasions. Scene of the Crime is a terrific event. Can't wait until the next one!