Wednesday, July 18, 2012
August 11, 2012 is a very special day for the Ladies’ Killing Circle. This is the day when the six of us will be presented with the Grant Allen Award at the annual Scene of the Crime Mystery Festival on Wolfe Island. It’s an idyllic setting, the largest island of the legendary thousand islands in the St. Lawrence River, which forms much of the eastern half of the Canada/ US border. Like all islands, it has its own culture - rebellious, proud and individualistic. Along with the fishermen, farmers and homesteaders, pirates and smugglers shaped its history, and thousands of barrels of smuggled sugar, guns and whiskey lie on the river bottom just off its shores.
But before there were smugglers and bootleggers, there was Grant Allen, who was born and bred on the island over a century and a half ago. He has been called Canada’s first crime writer and was certainly one of the most prolific authors of the Victorian era. He published an astonishing array of books of science and philosophy, as well as 40 novels, but it is his crime fiction, and his friendship with Conan Doyle, that makes him central to today’s festival. Every year since the festival’s inception, the Grant Allen Award has been given to a writer who has made a pioneering contribution to Canadian crime writing.
Over the years the festival has honoured such pioneers as Eric Wright, Howard Engel, Gail Bowen and Peter Robinson, and this year the festival has chosen the unique collective of women who formed the Ladies’ Killing Circle. LKC perceived a glaring need – publishing opportunities for Canadian female short story writers – and set about filling it. Under our auspices, seven anthologies were edited and published, giving voice to numerous Canadian women writers who went on to their own fame and glory. Among them, the six ladies themselves. Four of us went on to publish multiple novels (twenty-plus and counting), while one went on to children’s and young adult novels and the other continued her award-winning career in short story writing and editing.
Keep an eye on this space, and on the Ladies’ Killing Circle Fan Page, for more details on the success and accomplishments of all those women who got their start, literally, in one of the LKC anthologies. Many names will be familiar. And if you want to learn more about this delightful, old-fashioned mystery festival, with its free ferry rides and its traditional church supper, check out www.sceneofthecrime.ca. Register early to ensure a spot!
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 novels which havewon back to back Arthur Ellis Awards for Best Novel from Crime Writers of Canada. The eighth in the series, Beautiful Lie the Dead, explores love in all its complications. And, her Rapid Read from Orca, The Fall Guy, was launched last year.