Saturday, July 16, 2011

Canada Calling: Jayne Barnard

Jayne Barnard is a lifelong historical mystery reader and has recently begun to write in that genre. It is fitting that she lives almost in the shadow of the Military Museums in Calgary. Her award-winning short fiction has appeared in Canadian magazines and anthologies since 1990 and she was shortlisted for the 2011 Unhanged Arthur, awarded by the Crime Writers of Canada every year for best unpublished mystery manuscript.

Jayne grew up on military bases in Canada, the USA and Europe, where visiting historical battlefields was a regular weekend activity. After visiting the site of the Battle of Waterloo, she read Georgette Heyer’s acclaimed account of the battle in An Infamous Army. Heyer’s work in that novel and in The Spanish Bride showed Jayne that it was possible to tell deeply personal stories in the midst of accurate military history. It has taken her twenty years of learning the craft of fiction to begin to tell such stories effectively.

She won the Bloody Words 2011 Bony Pete short-story contest, for her story Each Canadian Son. Bony Pete is held each year in connection with the Bloody Words Convention. The contest is open only to registered attendees and the convention’s host city—in this case, Victoria, British Columbia—must figure in the story somehow. Any time period is allowed.

Her winning story was published in Monday Magazine, a weekly Victoria, British Columbia arts and entertainment magazine. Read her story here.

For those not familiar with the Dunsmuir family, James Dunsmuir (1851 – 1920) was the heir to a wealthy coal family, and a strident anti-unionist. His businesses had a huge impact on the British Columbia economy. Eventually Premiere (highest elected provincial official) and later Lieutenant Governor (the King’s representative) of British Columbia, he eventually retired to his mansion, Hatley Castle, in Victoria. After his death, Hatley Castle was, for many years, the Canadian Royal Roads Military College, which trained officers for the Canadian Navy.

Jayne says about Each Canadian Son:
Military action does not occur in a vacuum; it is intrinsic to the society that bred the politicians, the soldiers, and the ordinary citizens who sacrifice their loved ones to the machine of war. Each Canadian Son is not primarily a story of the military, it examines some unintended consequences of the jingo-ism deliberately whipped up for World War One. The Lusitania riots were not confined to Victoria, BC. They occurred in other cities across Canada and in Britain, but not with the destructive force or resulting societal disruption of the Victoria riots where Canadian soldiers faced down other Canadian soldiers in a form of martial law that could, briefly, have resulted in a civil war, and where many German-Canadian families took tremendous financial losses when they left Victoria forever in the aftermath.

Making that wider story known through the very real, very personal experience of a great-grandfather on the Victoria Police Department is an undertaking Georgette Heyer might have approved.

For more information about Jayne, visit the Unhanged Arthur site.

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