Friday, June 28, 2013


My first manuscripts were pages of wavy lines. I didn’t know how to read, but I’d seen my parents put pen to paper and squiggle out symbols. So I sat at a desk and scribbled page after page of wavy lines. I loved the look of my creation. I loved the sound of the pencil on paper.

Learning to read was magic. And then I learned to print. Other people could (usually) read what I printed. What power!
I wrote a serious poem and read it to the extended family at one of our frequent get-togethers. My aunts praised me, but laughed. I thought they were amused because I’d written the word “he’ll”, and it did sort of look like a word that made seven-year-olds giggle, but I had very carefully added the apostrophe, so what was so funny? It took me a few years to figure it out. I’d written about “my” kitten—I’d never owned one—and had included this gem: “And then he’ll have kittens.”

Pleased with my great success with poetry, I planned to write more. I decided that when I grew up, I would write whole entire books.

Handwriting turned out to be even better than printing. The scratching sound of the pencil (usually dull because who had time for sharpening pencils?) flowed like a sort of music (this will give you an idea of my musical talent…) on the rough yellow paper they gave us.

I branched out from poetry to plays, and was frustrated because although writing was faster than printing, I still couldn’t write as quickly as the dialogue came to me (probably a good thing…)

And then, when I was about twelve, our class visited the local water works. I liked field trips, but they always had this downside of having to write reports afterward. My teachers wanted facts, not fiction. What fun was that?
As usual, I procrastinated about writing that paper until very late, and then, at the last minute, the beginning of the waterworks report came out as two lines that rhymed. I thought of two more rhyming lines, and added those. I wrote the entire report, all about chlorine, underground rivers, pipes, and pumps, in rhyming couplets.
Luckily, my teacher appreciated my . . . we’ll call it originality. She didn’t need to know that the poem had stemmed from desperation and a form of laziness. She decided that our year-end assembly would be a play featuring my poem. And I was to head the team of playwrights.

By some miracle (like maybe I was casting director?) I ended up in what I considered to be the lead role—an eccentric aunt who read the poem about the waterworks to her adoring nephews and nieces. I’m sure that the entire school, plus whichever parents could attend that day, were entertained, educated, and edified.

I grew up (well, maybe) and had a real career—working mostly with numbers, which was often less interesting than writing reports about field trips. I never stopped wanting to write fiction, though, and now, finally, I tap keys on a keyboard, and the equivalent of wavy lines appear on a screen and end up bound into books--real ones! I remember that tiny girl at the too-high desk, scratching out page after page of wavy lines, and I see my published books, and I pinch myself.

Everyone has to start from scratch, I guess.

DIRE THREADS, the first book in Janet Bolin’s Threadville Mystery series received a nomination for an Agatha Award for Best First Novel. It was also shortlisted for the 2012 Bony Blithe. Janet’s second book, THREADED FOR TROUBLE, was shortlisted for the 2013 Bony Blithe. Her third book, THREAD AND BURIED, was a National Bestseller in the U.S. All of Janet’s books can be ordered at your favorite bookstore.
Visit Threadville, read excerpts from Janet’s books, and find booksellers at
“Like” her on facebook: her on twitter:!/@JanetBolinAnd keep your eyes open for information about the fourth Threadville Mystery, coming in June, 2014.

Friday, June 21, 2013


Blogging can be good for your health!

So, I'm on a blog tour right now. Or at least, Erika Chase is. It's my first time taking a tour although I've had requests from authors to include Mystery Maven Canada in their 'travel' plans. I'm having a lot of fun and it's all thanks to Bella at Cozy Mystery for arranging it. I won't give you any more Cozy Mystery details as she's taking a break for a while. I can understand why. It's like being a travel agent, planning someone else's itinerary. What a task!

I'm so pleased she included the Ashton Corners Book Club mysteries on her roster, though. I've had such a variety of questions/interviews from the different bloggers and some are doing reviews, so it's a nice mixture and not too demanding of my time, if I keep on top of sending the information in time.

In case you're interested, these are the sites I've either visited or am headed to:

* Omnimystery
* Socrates Book Review
* Book of Secrets
* Books-n-Kisses
* Melissa's Mochas, Mysteries & More
* Melina's Book Blog
* Cozy Up with Kathy
* Book Lady's Book Notes
* Cozy Mystery Book Review
* Shelley's Book Case

Quite an array, isn't it? It's been a wonderful way to get in tune with a lot of new bloggers and their readers and I invite you to visit these sites, even if you miss my post. Just Google their sites. In fact, I'm inspired to start running more interviews on Mystery Maven Canada in the future. Stay tuned!

Best of all, it sure shows that the mystery is alive and well and thriving -- YAY!

Linda Wiken/Erika Chase

Berkley Prime Crime, now available
A KILLER READ, also available at your favourite bookstores and online.
Agatha Award nomiee, Best First Novel 2012
COVER STORY available for pre-order; coming Aug. 2013.

Friday, June 14, 2013


By David Whellams
ECW Press

Chief Inspector Peter Cammon is having a tough time with retirement. He’s still trying to come to terms with his brother’s death while his wife copes with siblings who are near the end of their struggles with cancer. When Scotland Yard calls, the opportunity to get back into action is a no-brainer.

He’s asked to go to Montreal to escort home the body of a murdered colleague. It should be straightforward enough but his cop instincts take over and Cammon finds himself all to quickly deeply enmeshed in the search for a mysterious woman who may hold the key to the police officer’s death.

And then there’s the matter of the theft of three letters, one of them reportedly signed by John Wilkes Booth, that shed new light on the political situation north of the 49 during the US Civil War. The British Ambassador in Montreal wants those letters. So does a Separatist professor and any number of private collectors. Were they the reason for the murder of the Scotland Yard detective?

As Cammon travels to Washington in search of the missing woman, the body count starts building. Soon the Surete de Quebec, the FBI and local police forces are chasing the same prey. The stakes are higher than even Cammon realizes. And the game players will stop at nothing to kill the girl and claim the prize.

Whellams’ second Peter Cammon crime novel borders on thriller with several threads and sub-plots crisscrossing throughout the story. There’s history, travel, police procedural and suspense, something to catch the attention of every crime reader. His detective is a well-balanced hero, with a devotion to home and family along with the drive to do what's needed in the pursuit of justice. David Whellams lives in Ottawa. Maybe he'll bring Peter Cammon here for a visit at some point.

Friday, June 7, 2013


Bonus Interview!
Fradkin’s latest a masterfully-written page-turner


By c.b. forrest

An apprentice author takes comfort in beholding the fruits of a life dedicated to the craft of writing. To see P.D. James release one of her best recent works (Death Comes To Pemberly) at the age of 92. To behold as Cormac McCarthy’s writing somehow, almost impossibly, grows closer to the bone as he nears 80. Checked out any James Lee Burke lately?

All of this to say, while Barbara Fradkin is not anywhere near 80 or 90 (like maybe half that – cheques made payable to ‘cb’, thanks), she does have a considerable oeuvre in her Inspector Green mystery series. And so it was a pleasant surprise as a reader to see Fradkin take a big risk and move her protagonist from the known urban environment of Ottawa to the wild and tangled Northwest Territories. And it was an even more heartening as a fellow writer to see her reach a whole new level with Whisper of Legends, the ninth in the Green series (Dundurn Publishers, $17.99).

The premise for the story is every parent’s nightmare: Green’s daughter Hannah goes missing while on a canoe trip to the mind-bogglingly massive Nahanni River (30,000 square kilometres, 600 grizzlies, and countless insects to drive the city boy Green crazy). A canoe believed to belong to her four-party group is found onshore, but the local Mountie detachment isn’t convinced the teens qualify as “missing” yet, and it would be like looking for a needle in a haystack at any rate. Ever the pragmatist, Green decides to do the job himself. He turns to his reliable and longtime friend, Staff Sergeant Brian Sullivan, to accompany him to the Northwest Territories to find Hannah and bring her home.

Things get more tangled than the woods of the Nahanni when Green finds out that Hannah’s boyfriend on the trip has unclear motives for failing to register their expedition with park authorities. The ensuing search allows Fradkin to richly describe the park and the river in turns of phrase that will transport you there to the point where you begin to scratch at imaginary mosquito bites.
‘Green slept fitfully, disturbed not so much by the tandem snoring of the other two men nor the by the eerie grey of the northern night, but by fragments of dreams lurking at the borders of his consciousness.’

Green’s city-boy-goes-wild offers new opportunities for Fradkin to mine the soul of this man and his feelings for his loved ones in new and deeper ways than ever before. After nine novels, that’s saying something about Fradkin’s respect for the reader, her craft, and her protagonist. Green is vulnerable, he has no jurisdictional authority, and so we see the evolution of new thinking and problem-solving from this cop who has supposedly “seen it all”.

The story evolves from a mainstream novel in the first several chapters to a bona fide murder mystery as bodies are discovered and new and very interesting characters are introduced (ie. Elliot the expert tracker) to full effect. There is an unexpected twist ending that again displays Fradkin’s chops in the department of plotting. With Whisper of Legends, Fradkin has written her best work yet and it will stay with the reader like the lonesome call of a loon across a midnight lake.

I managed to catch up with Fradkin for a phone interview while she was on a book tour through the Northwest Territories and Alaska with talented and prolific fellow author, Vicki Delany.

CBF: You took a break between Beautiful Lie The Dead and Whisper of Legends. Did you need to recharge or were you busy with other projects?
BF: A bit of both. I wanted a break because I had something else I wanted to write. Series, even when you enjoy the characters and the place immensely, are constraining. If you want to explore other characters or types of stories, you have to break out. In my case, I wanted to write a biography of my father.

CBF: Taking a series character away from his setting - especially when that setting is an important aspect of the character - is a risky venture. But taking a gritty urban lead out to the middle of the woods is even Riskier. What pros and cons did you weigh when you decided to set the novel in the Nahanni?
BF: None, actually. I just wanted to write the story and I didn't think how risky it might be to the series. I was more focused on how risky it would be to Green, and that was an exciting prospect. Writers are always looking for tension, conflict and novelty, which Green vs. Nahanni had in spades. As I was writing along, I did wonder whether I would lose those readers who enjoy the urban grit and who, like Green, have no interest in wilderness. Time will tell. But I also hope that new readers who passed over the series because of its Ottawa setting will tune in.

CBF: Writing this series represents a significant portion of your adult life. Have you looked way down the road and imagined a time when you wouldn't have an Inspector Green novel on the go?
BF: Yes. I know no series character can go on forever. I don't know when, because I don't plan ahead, but sooner or later Green will run out of cases. But I have a lot of other ideas to pursue, all it takes is courage to break out.

: You are in Yellowknife right now, and were at Malice Domestic a few weeks ago. What are some of the key ingredients a writer needs in order to be successful?
BF: Wine, actually. And at this point I can only think of three ingredients: perseverance, belief in self, and an independent income stream. Rich spouses fit the bill.

C.B. Forrest’s short story, Hangover At Sunrise, will appear in June’s Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine. He is nearing the completion of an epic saga about modern organized crime whose title he will not divulge though he believes it will be a best-seller translated into twenty-seven languages, including his own.

Saturday, June 1, 2013


Arthur and me!

Okay, not really true. However, I was at the Arthur Ellis Awards banquet on Thurs. May 30th and those Arthurs were handed out. What an exciting event it was. Crime Writers of Canada has come a long way since the first Arthur Ellis Awards in 1984.

It sees major growth each year as more Canadians who write crime and mystery are coming on board. Publishers are getting into the act, too. And the media coverage has helped catapult the association, and the award, into the category of well-respected, major Canadian awards.

It's also a wonderful opportunity to get together with crime writers from across the country who all come out to help celebrate these accomplishments. This week is was an added gala time as the Bony Blithe Award was given out the evening before. Congratulations to Elizabeth Duncan for winning the Bony Blithe for her mystery, A Small Hill to Die On, the fourth in her series.

And, the winners of the Arthur Ellis Awards are certainly to be congratulated, too. They are:

Best first novel: The Haunting of Maddy Clare, by Simone St. James.
Best novella: Contingency Plan by Lou Allin.
Best crime non-fiction: The Devil’s Cinema: The Untold Story behind Mark Twitchell’s Kill Room by Steve Lillebuen.
Best young adult book: Becoming Holmes by Shane Peacock.
Best French book: La Nuit des Albinos, by Mario Bolduc.
Best short story: Switch-blade Knife, by Yasuko Thanh.
Best unpublished novel: Sins Revisited by Coleen Steele.

Also, major congratulations to all the nominees for all of these prestigious awards. Crime writing is indeed alive and well in Canada. See everyone again next year!

Linda Wiken/Erika Chase

Berkley Prime Crime, now available
A KILLER READ, also available at your favourite bookstores and online.
Agatha Award nomiee, Best First Novel 2012
COVER STORY available for pre-order; coming Aug. 2013.