Saturday, May 3, 2008

Canada Calling: Ghosts of Mysteries Past

Sharon Wildwind

When I told my husband that today Canada was going calling on Arthur Ellis and Grant Allan, he asked me if I was going to use William Lyon Mackenzie King as an intermediary.

It’s a Canadian joke.

William Lyon Mackenzie King was, initially, the tenth Prime Minister of Canada. King first came to office in 1921. Unlike in the American system, Prime Ministers can return to office at intervals, which King did in 1926, and 1935. He holds the record for being the longest serving Prime Minister, not only in Canada, but in all of the British Commonwealth.

Faced with the incredibly hard times of taking Canada through recovery from The Great War, the Depression, and then World War II, King sought advice and council from the spirit world. His diaries describe his frequent consultation with Leonardo da Vinci, his own dead mother, and several of his deceased Irish terriers. All of the dogs were named Pat. In spite of this, or perhaps because of it, depending on how you want to vote, W.L.M. King lead the country through some very dark days.

Anyway, the reason I might need King’s assistance for this blog is that both Arthur Ellis and Grant Allen are dead.

The Arthur Ellis Awards

In a sense Arthur Ellis never even existed. A man named Arthur Bartholomew English was Canada’s hangman from 1915 to 1935. He adopted the pseudonym Arthur Ellis after the famous English executioner, John Ellis, though stories that the two were related are not true. Several of Bartholomew's successors adopted the same pseudonym.

Each year, the Crime Writers of Canada awards the Arthur Ellis Award for the best Canadian crime writing in both fiction and non-fiction. Last year, they added a new category for the best unpublished fiction.

Last week, the finalists were announced for the 2008 AE awards. I commend all of these authors to your reading list. The winners will be announced at the Arthur Ellis dinner on Thursday, June 5, in Toronto at the Downtown Marriott Eaton Centre Hotel. For more information on the dinner, and to see photos of the “Arthur” go to

This dinner is held the night before Bloody Words VIII, the annual Canadian mystery convention, begins. For more information on this year’s convention (June 6 to 8, in Toronto), go to It’s a great convention and we’d love to have you come north for a visit.
2008 Arthur Ellis Awards Shortlists

Best Short Story
Vicki Cameron, “Eight Lords A’Leaping” in Locked Up (Deadlock Press)
Maureen Jennings, “Wreckwood” in Blood on the Holly (Baskerville Books)
D.J. McIntosh, “The Hounds of Winter” in Blood on the Holly (Baskerville Books)
Rick Mofina, “As Long as We Both Shall Live” in Blood on the Holly (Baskerville Books)
Leslie Watts, “Turner” in Kingston Whig-Standard (July 7, 2007)

Best Non-Fiction
Rodrigo Bascunan & Christian Pearce, Enter the Babylon System (Random House Canada)
Robert J. Hoshowsky, The Last to Die: Ronald Turpin, Arthur Lucas, and the End of Capital Punishment in Canada (Hounslow/Dundurn)
Julian Sher, One Child at a Time: The Global Fight to Rescue Children from Online Predators (Random House Canada)
Brian Vallée, The War on Women: Elly Armour, Jane Hurshman, and Criminal Violence in Canadian Homes (Key Porter)
Paul Watson, Where War Lives (McClelland & Stewart)

Best Juvenile
Anita Daher, Racing for Diamonds (Orca)
Anita Daher, Spider’s Song (Puffin Canada/Penguin Canada)
Vicki Grant, I.D. (Orca)
Shane Peacock, Eye of the Crow (Tundra)
Drew Hayden Taylor, The Night Wanderer (Annick Press)

Best Crime Writing in French
Mario Bolduc, Tsiganes (Libre Expression)
Johanne Seymour, Le Cercle des Pénitents (Libre Expression)
Pierre H. Richard, GHB: Grossier, Horrible et Bête (Editions Pratiko)
Diane Vincent, Epidermes (Triptyque)
Norbert Spehner, Scènes de Crimes: Enquêtes sur le Roman Policier Contemporain (Alire)

Best First Novel
Claire Cameron, The Line Painter (HarperCollins)
Sean Chercover, Big City, Bad Blood (William Morrow/HarperCollins)
Liam Durcan, García’s Heart (McClelland & Stewart)
Susan Parisi, Blood of Dreams (Penguin Australia)
Sharon Rowse, The Silk Train Murder (Carroll & Graf)
Marc Strange, Sucker Punch (Castle Street Mysteries/Dundurn)

Best Novel
Linwood Barclay, No Time for Goodbye (Bantam)
Terry Carroll, Snow Candy (Mercury Press)
Maureen Jennings, A Journeyman to Grief (McClelland & Stewart)
Louise Penny, The Cruellest Month (McArthur & Company)
Jon Redfern, Trumpets Sound No More (RendezVous Crime/Napoleon & Company)

Best Unpublished First Crime Novel: the Unhanged Arthur
Patricia Flewwelling, Mummer’s the Word
D.J.  McIntosh, The Witch of Babylon
Amy Tector, The Paris Letters
Kevin Thornton, Condemned

If you can’t get to Toronto in June, how about coming to Wolfe Island, Ontario, in August. On Saturday, August 9, 2008 the Scene of the Crime festival will celebrate the life of Grant Allen, and honor New York Times bestselling author, Canadian Joy Fielding.

Grant Allen, Canada’s First Mystery Writer

Canada's first crime writer, Grant Allen, was born on Wolfe Island, Ontario in 1848. He published forty novels, and, after he immigrated to England was a next-door neighbor and friend to Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.

This is Wolfe Island’s fourth year celebrating the beginning of mystery fiction in Canada. The one-day festival includes a ferry ride (it’s the only way to get to the island), an old-fashioned church supper, and an award celebrating one of Canada’s crime-writing pioneers. The supper is always sold out, so if you want to attend, go to the website listed below and book your tickets now.

The award recipient this year is Joy Fielding. Her works include See Jane Run, Don't Cry Now, The Deep End, The Other Woman, Mad River Road and her latest, Heartstopper , Joy's website is:

As part of the Wolfe Island festival, there’s also a short story contest open to unpublished Canadian authors. Deadline is May 15, and details of how to enter is on the web site festival website,

You may have expected Darlene Ryan’s blog this weekend. We made a few scheduling changes for May. Here they are
--Darlene will blog in my usual spot, next Tuesday, May 6.
--Instead of Canada Calling on the 3rd weekend of the month—where it usual is—that weekend PDD will feature an interview with author Elena Santangelo, author of the southern, paranormal Pat Montella mystery series.
Writing quote for the week:

When it comes to politics, one has to do as one [does] at sea with a sailing ship... reach one’s course having regard to prevailing winds. ~William Lyon Mackenzie King, 1874 - 1950

The same might be said about writing and publishing.

No comments: