Bloody Words

After a good murder, there's nothing mystery fans like better than a good nosh!

After a good murder, there’s nothing mystery fans like better than a good nosh!

 

I went to my first book conference this past weekend – the Bloody Words Mystery convention. Over 300 crime writers and fans came together at the Hyatt Regency in Toronto for three days of murder, mayhem and frivolity. What a hoot!

A fine hotel, the Hyatt, but not so strong on spelling. You can guess how this went over with a group of writers.

A fine hotel, the Hyatt, but not so strong on spelling. You can guess how this went over with a group of writers.

I guess I’ve been living under a rock or something. I had no idea such things existed. I knew there were things for Trekkies and comic book fans. I had heard of the London Book Fair, and certain highbrow literary festivals, but I had no idea there were conferences for ordinary readers and writers, even new authors like me. A friend suggested I look into Bloody Words and I’m certainly glad she did. Thanks Alison.

I registered as a simple attendee, but having noted on the form that I had written and published “The Spark”, it wasn’t long before I was asked if I would be willing to be on the “You Are What You Write” panel. Being a firefighter, who wrote a thriller about firefighters I guess that was a no brainer. It was a great panel with lively discussion, but it was far from the highlight.

CSI: Toronto - Police forensics specialists, Wade Knaap & Jessica Piekny, give a demonstration.

CSI: Toronto – Police forensics specialists, Wade Knaap & Jessica Piekny, give a demonstration.

A police forensics expert gave a talk on “Blood, Glorious Blood: the Reality of Forensic Haematology”, and why things aren’t like what you see on CSI. Another session on Cyber Forensics explained why simply deleting something on a computer or even reformatting the drive doesn’t completely erase the file. “From Rocks to Glocks” dealt with crime weapons used through the ages. A lawyer and an accountant who are also writers hosted a session called “Death & Taxes & Contracts… Oh My!” (best line – “Being an actuary is for those who find accounting too exciting”). There was a lot of information for both writers and mystery & suspense fans alike. I’m sure it will all come in handy and make my writing more realistic.

One of my favorite panels was called “That’s Not Sick, That’s Funny!” about humour in crime writing. Those of you who know my sense of humour will understand.

The best part was just meeting and talking with other authors and readers who are passionate about the genre. I met a few people who had already read The Spark, which was pleasantly surprising. It was great to get their feedback and criticism. (Yes writers need criticism, it’s the only way we get better). Several others bought the book at the conference (thank you!) and I look forward to hearing from them in the months to come.

Doyenne of Canadian crime writers, Vicki Delany with yours truly.

Doyenne of Canadian crime writers, Vicki Delany with yours truly.

It was truly wonderful to be welcomed by the masters of Canadian crime writing, people like Vicki Delany, Kevin Thornton, Cheryl Freedman and others. Self-published authors are sometimes seen as less than, but everyone at the conference was universally supportive and encouraging. Everyone knows what it’s like spending those long hours at the keyboard, praying for the next inspiration.

I’ve been told that two thirds of adult readers are women, and true to form the majority of people at the convention were women, mostly middle aged. They were all very charming, but let me tell you, under those neatly pressed blouses and sensible shoes lurk hearts of pure stone. I’ll never forget walking past two women, who reminded me a bit of my grandmother, and overhearing this, “I know you’re fond of poison, but there really is nothing like a good, old fashioned garrotting”.

Glad I wasn’t staying in the hotel!

Comments

  1. What a great write up about the conference! Sounds so interesting – especially to an avid crime reader! Thanks for sharing!

  2. Hi John,
    I was trying to find notes from the Death & Taxes & Contracts workshop and came across your blog. Terrific work. Nice to “see” you since we met at Noir@Bar in Toronto!

    Keep up your firefighter thrillers. You know, I had to do a fire workshop at CHEO and my favourite part was the baby vest where you can carry multiple babies out at one time. You probably know what I’m talking about, but just in case your readers don’t, I posted it on my website: http://melissayuaninnes.com/my-ideal-work-space-erwritingmotherhood/

    Cheers,
    Melissa

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