Sarah Brandon writes about “A Day To Kill”

CBC’s Alan Neal


Chilling celebrity readings and writing workshops draw Ottawa mystery fans
by SARAH BRANDON on Oct 30, 2011 • 11:18 pm

A chill ran through the 50-person audience as the CBC’s Alan Neal ended his mystery reading on an eerie cliffhanger at last Saturday’s Capital Crime Writers’ gathering.

Neal was one of five celebrity readers at the event, which took place at the Ottawa Public Library’s main branch and featured a writing workshop and various panels.

“[We want to] help raise a profile of our authors. It is kind of tough to get people to know who we are, even within our own community,” said organizer and mystery writer Brenda Chapman.

Capital Crime Writers began in 1989 with only six members. Today it’s composed of 70 people and is still growing, according to founding member Linda Wiken.

“We’re bringing together mystery authors who belong to Capital Crime Writers for a day of entertainment,” said Chapman, adding that it’s also a way for fans of mystery fiction to meet these authors and enjoy their stories.

At times, the audience trembled from the chilling readings featuring novels written by a host of Ottawa’s most talented mystery writers.

Among the authors present were Barbara Fradkin, author of the Inspector Green series, C. B. Forrest, author of The Weight of Stones and Mary Jane Maffini, who has written three mystery series and is the author of two Arthur Ellis award-winning short stories.

Maffini also ran a popular mystery-writing workshop at the event for avid writers, eager to break into the genre.

“We’d had so much fun with it that we thought it would be a great idea to do something to showcase our own authors in Ottawa,” said Chapman about the event, which took roughly four months to plan.

“There are a lot of people working behind the scenes,” Chapman said.

Despite the small audience and chilling subject matter, the audience erupted into laughter from the sometimes raunchy banter exchanged during the panels, while other panels encouraged audience participation.

“Liar!” the audience shouted raucously during the “Meet the Fibbers” panel, in an attempt to reveal whether the panelists were telling the truth about their experiences as authors.

Another panel called “Sex, Drugs and Rock n’ Roll” had authors speaking of their experience delving into these elements both in terms of adult and young adult fiction.

Capital Crime Writers president Michael Murphy said he wants people to leave the event with the motivation to write and to grasp how varied the realm of mystery writing is.

“I hope people will realize that Ottawa has a very lively, vibrant mystery writing community,” Murphy said.

— Photo courtesy of Lenny Wu

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