Monday, October 24, 2011


I’m feeling revved up after having spent the last few days with writers and readers and having the prospect of a few more. On Saturday, the excellent Capital Crime Writers 'A Day to Kill' brought together Ottawa and Eastern Ontario authors to share thoughts on writing with writers and readers, to hear celebrity readers and to celebrate the genre and pick up some new books. It was a high energy day with a lot of laughs and some surprising secrets revealed. Ottawa has its share of writers and the numbers are growing. I find that heartening. There will be even more to read next year!

Prior to that, Thursday meant a trip down Highway 7 with Barbara Fradkin and Robin Harlick for a reading in the Tweed Library. You never know what to expect on dark and rainy weekday evenings in small towns. We were pleased to be met with a room full of readers who were happy to have us spill our writerly secrets and also pleased at the groaning table of goodies to be shared afterwards. And of course, it’s always fun to have a road trip with other women who kill for a living. You just have to be very careful.

Sunday was the second annual Carleton Reads. Mark Frutkin, Paulette Bourgeois, Kate Heartfield and Dave Cannon gave spirited presentations on the books they had chosen, all Canadian literature: The Last Crossing by Guy Vanderhaeghe, Galore by Michael Crummey, Room by Emma Donaghue and Salamander by Thomas Wharton. Salamander was voted the book the audience
would choose to read first and a tough battle. I enjoyed the passion in their well-articulated cases. During the question period, I asked about ‘guilty reading pleasures’ and was gratified to hear that this elegant and thoughtful panel all read, enjoy and respect genre fiction as well as literary fiction. There was no sign of snobbery here and no attempt to look down on so-called commercial fiction. Lots of room in our reading lives for whatever we want to read whenever we want to read it they felt. They all flatly refused to feel guilty about any of their reading pleasures.

I’m darn glad to hear it and also glad to be settling down to read. On my bedside table and ready to start is Louise Penny’s A Trick of the Light.

It will probably be joined by a few more books in the pile when I drop in to hear the Scottish mystery writers who are here in Ottawa as part of the Writers’ Festival. Ian Rankin, Denis Mina and Stuart McBride should put on a great show.

It all served to remind me that it’s a great time to be a reader and a writer in Ottawa!

Mary Jane Maffini rides herd on three (soon to be three and a half) mystery series and a couple of dozen short stories. Her thirteenth mystery novel, The Busy Woman’s Guide to Murder, which hit the bookshelves this spring, is brimming with names, no two the same.

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