Bloody Words is Canada’s first and largest conference for mystery authors and fans. Bloody Words XII was held a week ago in Toronto, with Guest of Honor Linwood Barclay, International Guest of Honor Gayle Lynds, and Master of Ceremonies Rick Blechta.
It began with gloomy, rain-impeded drive from Kingston to Toronto. Sounds like the beginning of a great mystery doesn’t it? Well after making the drive sans incident I checked into the Delta Chelsea with my good friend Jennafer, deposited our belongings, and headed out in the continuing drizzle to check in for Bloody Words.
At the registration desk, watched over by mascot Bony Pete, we were met by members of the lovely “Bloody Gang” to pick up our conference brochure and schedule, plus a goodie bag to die for. After a review of the varied panels available to attendees, we made our decisions for the evening and headed into the Friday evening “Meet and Greet.” While engaging in a series of interesting conversations with authors like Peg Herring, Aline de Chevigny and Caro Soles, I enjoyed the mouth-watering nibbles and people watched. Authors are no exception to the varied interpretations of what “party wear” might entail. I saw everything from hats fit for Queen Elizabeth to shlumpy jogging pants to psychedelic multi-print outfits that once seen will never be forgotten.
Friday’s evening panels introduced me to several new authors for me, including a number of international writers. I learned about the differences in writing demands and likes around the world, and how various authors approach “setting the scene.”
At the Crossing Genres panel, we discussed the difficulties faced by authors who write either cross-genre fiction, or in multiple genres, the latter of which seems to present issues for said authors in promotion, as publishers, stores, and reviewers have trouble finding a suitable label for these multi-tasking folks. Even in our enlightened society, I have found that GLBT [also acronymed as LGBT] issues and representation in entertainment (books, TV, films) remains a thing approached with apprehension and at times dismissiveness. I am happy to report I received nothing but positive comments and feedback and open curiosity.
Saturday was even more interesting and entertaining with an Agents panel discussing the needs, wants and reflections on the current state of the publishing industry, a Bloody Idol session that had manuscript first pages being read aloud for comment by a group of publishing experts, a Forensic Jeopardy game and a brilliant talk with forensic psychiatrist Dr. Peter Collins, an expert in the field of predators and violent crime who has worked on such high profile cases as Paul Bernardo and Col. Russell Williams.
Then onto the BIG event: The Gala Bloody Words XII Banquet.
Dinner was crowded, busy and lovely. Rick Blechta, the events MC couldn’t have been funnier, and International Guest Host Gayle Lynds and Canadian Guest Host Linwood Barclay each gave touching, humorous and insightful speeches to the captive audience. There were readings and presentation of the Bony Blithe, Bony Pete and acclaimed Hammet awards. Imagine my surprise and delight to discover that best-selling author Michael Ondaatje was in attendance!
The winners of the Bony Pete short mystery award:
- First Prize: “The Lizard” by Madeleine Harris-Callway
- Second Prize: “Roadkill” by Rob Brunet
- Third Prize: “A Life of Crime” by Nikki Everts-Hammond
- Honourable Mention: “The Rose Yeager Case” by Alvin Abram
The winner of the first Bony Blithe light mystery award was Gloria Ferris for Cheat the Hangman.
All in all, I can happily say the convention was a success. There were many opportunities to learn more about the craft of writing, the industry, insider tips, times to chat with other authors, learn about the field of forensics and policing and to just plain socialize. I enjoyed everything I took part in and the great sense of camaraderie among readers and authors alike. I will definitely be back in 2014.
Liz Strange is the author of Missing Daughter, Shattered Family (David Lloyd Investigations #1), a modern-day PI novel with a secondary romantic storyline. The main character is a former police officer, now out gay PI working in the tough urban jungle of Toronto.