Monday, August 13, 2012

Scene Of The Crime

Not sure how many of our American, or international, readers are familiar with the Scene Of The Crime - SOTC - Writers Festival, held annually for about the last 17 years.

The festival is held on Wolfe Island, which is in the St. Lawrence River between the Province of Ontario and New York State. It is a short ferry ride - free, btw!!! - from the city of Kingston, Ontario.

Wolfe Island, like the festival itself, has a history. It is the largest of the "Thousand Islands", part of Ontario's Frontenac County. The largest community on the island, where the ferry from Kingston docks, is Marysville: population in 2011, 1864. Originally, the island was part of the traditional hunting lands of the Tyendinaga Mohawk people; the island's original name, from the Mohawk, was "Long Island Standing Up". First claimed by the French, the island was named Grande Isle. After the defeat of the French forces in Quebec, at the Battle of the Plains of Abraham in 1759, the island was renamed by British settlers for the General who commanded the British forces in Quebec, and who was killed in the pivotal battle, General James Wolfe.

File:Benjamin West 005.jpg

                         Death of General Wolfe

Wolfe Island was chosen as the site of the SOTC Festival because it is the birthplace of Canada's first crime writer, Grant Allen (1848-1899).

                    Grant Allen

Grant Allen is reckoned to be the first Canadian crime writer to actually make money in the trade - something we, myself included, aspire to, but most of us not so successfully. When Allen did turn his talented mind and hand to the mystery genre - from an earlier interest in science, evolution, and philosophy - he became very prolific, producing some 40 novels. He was successful enough that he and his wife could spend their winters in the South of France - something else that most of us, again myself included, would aspire to. He is generally regarded as the first author to make a hero out of a thief; that was in his collection of stories, An African Millionaire, and his anti-hero (if you will) was one Colonel Clay, a conman and master of disguise. Allen was also a friend of Arthur Conan Doyle, creator of Sherlock Holmes.

This year's SOTC was held this past weekend, Saturday August 11. As usual, a number of Canadian crime writers were invited to participate. I was pleased to be among them.

Three of the others were:

Y.S. (Ying) Lee, author of three young adult - YA - novels in her Agency series: A Spy in the House, The Body in the Tower, and The Traitor in the Tunnel.

                        Y.S. Lee

Visit Y.S. at:

D. J. McIntosh is the author of the best-selling historical mystery thriller, The Witch of Babylon.


                   D. J. McIntosh

Visit D.J. at:

John Moss is the creator of two Toronto homicide detectives, Miranda Quin and David Morgan, whom he describes as a "virtual couple who could not possibly live together, yet are incomplete living apart."

                        John Moss

His three published novels are: Still Waters, Grave Doubts, and Reluctant Dead. His fourth in the series, Blood Wine, will be released in 2014.

Investigate John in more detail at:

Each year, SOTC gives the Grant Allen Award to a deserving Canadian author; this year, for the first time, the award went to six authors, the current members of The Ladies Killing Circle, a group of - obviously - female writers, who first came together as a homicidal collective more years ago than some of them might want to admit to. (Or not!!) The late Audrey Jessop was a founding member of the group; she was replaced by Type M's own Barbara Fradkin.

From Left to Right: Mary Jane Maffini, Joan Boswell, Vicki Cameron, Barbara Fradkin, Linda Wiken (aka Erika Chase), Sue Pike.

The "Ladies" have made a signal contribution to crime writing in Canada. The have provided an inspiration and a venue for Canadian women writers to write and publish short stories in the mystery genre. To date the Ladies have produced seven collections of stories:

  • The Ladies Killing Circle (1995)
  • Cottage Country Killers (1997)
  • Menopause is Murder (1999)
  • Fit to Die (2001)
  • Bone Dance (2003)
  • When Boomers Go Bad (2005)
  • Going Out With a Bang (2008)

The past weekend on Wolfe Island was a great success, for me, and for all the participants. Fellow writer John Moss told me that he had "counted the house" on Saturday, and reckoned that there were 100 people in attendance. Pretty darned good, I think. For the most part, the weather cooperated. No one really minded the torrential downpour on Friday evening when the authors were greeted and treated with a BBQ. If anything, it only added to the general mysterious atmosphere.


Anonymous said...

Wonderful blog! Thanks so much for mentioning me........D.J. McIntosh

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