Celebrating Light Mysteries
At the national award for light mysteries, the Bony Blithe Awards, a few weeks ago mystery authors considered the differences between traditional or light mystery fare and police procedurals. The Bony Blithe Award is five years old this year so there were congratulations all round including cake and applause for winner Victoria Abbott for The Marsh Madness, Berkley Prime Crime. Two panels discussed the evolving mystery genre.
The first panel involved four authors (Alexis Koetting, Janet Bolin, Eva Gates/Vicki Delany, and Victoria Abbott/Mary Jane Maffini speculating on how they would re-imagine a cozy into a police procedural. Outgoing Crime Writers of Canada president Vicky Delany author of the Lighthouse Library series noted one change would be a change of style. In a cozy there is only one point of view character, in a police procedural the tone would change, there would be more point of view characters hiding a secret and a more explosive ending. For Mary-Jane Maffini, the mother half of the Victoria Abbott mother-daughter writing team, television also has an impact on the approach to writing. In Britain, lots of television series, including Midsomer Murders are based on dark books that have been “cozified” for television, she said. What was interesting to consider was that Agatha Christie was not cozy in her time.
The second panel featured Cathy Ace, Elizabeth J. Duncan, Vicki Delany, and Catherine Astolfo on what aspects of a mystery make it dark. Also, is it easier to write a light or comic mystery than a mystery that explores the darker or more serious side of life? The panelists agreed that both sides of the genre have their conventions. The split between more ‘hard-boiled’ mysteries and lighter fare seems to have accelerated in the past few years.
The Bony Blithe Mini-con organized by Elaine Freedman, 2016 Bony Blithe Chair, and fellow mini-con organizers Caro Soles and Jane Burfield was a great opportunity to consider and celebrate the whole light mystery genre. Panelists agreed: Readers like the light mystery, they develop affinities for the series characters and they want to follow them in book after book. And that’s gratifying for any author.
Villainous Vacations is that rare beach read, one that makes you laugh and shiver almost at the same time. From lonely werewolves finding love to high school hellions wreaking havoc on each other, plus a fillip of time travel, there is something for everyone in this riveting collection.
I’m super proud to be part of this very shady summer collection with such talented authors. Join us for our book launch, at Sleuth of Baker Street, 907 Millwood Rd. , Toronto’s premiere mystery and suspense store, Sunday, June 12 between 2 and 4 p.m.
We hope to see you all on Sunday, June 12 but if you can’t wait for a taste of Villainous Vacations it is available for pre-order right now at:
Barnes & Noble: http://bit.ly/25skeH0
RCMP Sgt. Patrice Poitevin likes some television police shows − Law and Order Special Victims Unit − for example. But he especially like to help writers get things straight.
It is important to describe the right procedures in order to create believable stories, he says, and it is the intersection between science and “the human factor” that gives writers the opportunity to build suspense. “The Science factor is accurate, the problem is with the human factor, pressure from bosses or the public to find the culprit.”
And by the way nothing moves as fast as it does on television. “To get tax records you need a warrant, a production order etc. You can’t get it automatically. Warrants that took one page years ago now take fifty pages.”
If an officer happens on a crime in commission, the suspect can be secured and the police can get a warrant to search the place. “You can seize what is in plain sight” but not search drawers etc. without a warrant.
Police chases make good TV but are not that common, he said at the AD Astra Conference in Toronto in April. Strict rules govern the police’s treatment of suspects. Suspects have a right to a lawyer and must be treated fairly. Violating a person’s rights can result in evidence being thrown out at trial as fruit of the poisoned tree. During interrogations, interviewers try first to build rapport with their suspect. All interrogations are videotaped.
Holiday Mayhem? Make that Villainous Vacations the new anthology I am proud to be in. Publisher Karen Dryden (2012’s Nefarious North) is back with a 2016 collection sure to please everyone. From horror to horses, shape-shifting to high school madness, romantic frissons and thrilling suspense, these tale will delight and intrigue. For this fun collection I abandoned my Police Procedural hat for a nail-biting tale about a girl on beach. Psst. Book Launch Sunday, June 12 at 2 p. m. at Sleuth of Baker Street, Toronto. Everyone welcome.
Tomorrow I will be back with my third article on police procedurals.
Police Procedurals −2 Weapons, Cop Talk and Five Inch Heels
From the Police Procedural panel at Ad Astra Sci-Fi and Fantasy Conference in Toronto last week, here are more of RCMP Sgt. Pat Poitevin’s tips.
- Make sure you choose the right ones. Ask the force you are dealing with. The RCMP uses Smith and Wesson, another force might have Glocks. Find out.
- A good way to build reality into your characters is to have your cops make jokes. Sgt. Poitevin says cops have a wicked, twisted sense of humour. They use colourful language to blow off steam from the distressing scenes they have witnessed. They make jokes to handle stress. One way to make your story real is to have your characters get in some sarcastic humour.
- Investigators dress in appropriate business attire. They are professionals.And no, female investigators do not wear five inch heels to run after a suspect. Men will be in suits, women in suits or other business-casual clothes.