Memories of Bouchercon

Bouchercon 2017 was a fabulous four-day party set in Toronto. It ended on Sunday, but the memories will linger on.

The fruit of five years of planning by Toronto’s Janet Costello and Helen Nelson, the international conference at Toronto’s Sheraton Centre attracted 1,700 mystery fans and writers from around the world, including crime fiction stars Sara Paretsky, Louise Penny, Megan Abbott and Laura Lippman. Here are a few glimpses of the fun-filled days:

Right, my T-Rex Team at the pub trivia evening: Clockwise from bottom left, Madona Skaff, Becky Muth, Chuck Barksdale, Ed Piwowarczyk, myself, Chris F.A. Johnson and captain Madeleine Harris-Callway. We didn’t win, but we came pretty close to it with our masterful grasp of crime fiction trivia! (What does V.I. stand for in character V.I. Warshawski’s name?)

Right, the Friday afternoon panel, Location, Location, featuring five authors talking about our novels’ unique settings. From the far left, moderator Stanley Trollip, co-author of the Detective Kuba mysteries who travelled from Cape Town to the conference; Stephen Mack Jones; myself; Craig Faustus Buck; and Ruth Ware. We all agreed that good settings become important characters in novels.

One of my highlights was the Saturday evening authors’ signing of the Bouchercon anthology, Passport to Murder. I was thrilled to be among the 22 authors with stories selected for the collection (culled from about 120 submissions). All  stories had to include some form of travel, and a murder or an attempted murder. My story, “The Queen-size Bed,” is set in Cuba. The collection was published by Florida-based Down&Out Books, and all proceeds go to support literacy at Frontier College.

Here’s a shot of all the Passport to Murder authors who made it to Toronto. I’m second from the end, back, at the far right.


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Budapest, Vienna and Prague

View from the Fisherman’s Bastion, Budapest, on the Buda bank of the Danube.

Just back from three cities that I missed on previous visits to Europe: Budapest, Vienna and Prague. We started with Budapest, a city I’ve long wanted to see. Hungary’s capital has magnificent architecture, all the more stunning at night when many buildings are illuminated; a rich history; and it is a city of hot-spring spas. My only disappointment was discovering that the Danube is brown-grey, not blue.

House of Terror, 60 Andrassy Boulevard, Budapest

Housed in a neo-renaissance residence on stately Andrassy Boulevard, Budapest’s House of Terror is a chilling memorial to the victims of the fascist and communist regimes in 20th-century Hungary, including those detained, interrogated, tortured and killed in its basement. The fascist Arrow Cross Party called the building the “House of Loyalty.”  When Hungary came under under Soviet occupation in 1945, 60 Andrassy Boulevard housed the State Security Authority, which orchestrated a network of informers that watched Hungarians in factories, in offices, at universities and in theatres, recording their every move.

Schloss Schonbrunn,  the summer residence of the Habsburgs in Vienna, was the favourite

Gardens of Schloss Schonbrunn in Vienna.

home of Empress Maria Theresa, who received the palace as a wedding gift from her father in 1736. Maria Theresa is a woman I greatly admire; a strong ruler who forged alliances with other European houses through her children’s marriages (she had 16 sons and daughters), she knew exactly what she wanted–which is the key to getting it. Later, Schonbrunn was the playground of the free-spirited Empress Elisabeth of Austria (Sisi) who was assassinated in 1898.

Ed had visited Vienna before, but on this trip he explored some of the Viennese landmarks

The Wiener Riesenrad.

in one of his favourite films, The Third Man. Set in post-World-War II Vienna, the city takes on a life of its own in this 1949 movie, adapted from a Graham Greene novel, and starring Orsen Welles, Trevor Howard and Joseph Cotten. Ed tracked down the Hotel Sacher, home of the famous Sachertorte, and the Cafe Mozart, two important settings in the film. And he took a spin on the Wiener Riesenrad, the giant Ferris wheel in Prater Park where a pivotal scene was shot.

Our hotel in Prague was built on land close to Prague Castle that is leased from the monks of St. Norbert’s Monastery. The good monks operate the Strahov Monastic Brewery. Ed took this photo (below) of one of the brewery’s trucks, which advertises its current fall lager with the curious name of Antidepressant. A waiter at the brewery pub assured us that the lager is made with herbs that prevent depression. “Drink all you want,” he said. “No side effects.”

Ed, on The Third Man trail.

Note the brewery’s website at the bottom of the image on the truck: The word “pivo” is Czech and Polish (Polish uses w’s instead of v’s) for “beer.” Var means “maker,” therefore “pivovar” means “beer maker.”  Ed’s surname, Piwowarczyk, translates into “son of a beer maker.” Which makes him well qualified to sample the suds in the countries we visited.

“Antidepressant” beer made by the monks of St. Norbert in Prague.





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Word on the Street day!

It’s Word on the Street time again. The one-day annual book extravaganza runs at Toronto’s Harbourfront today. This year’s featured artists/writers are Monia Mazigh, Emma Donoghue, David Suzuki and Ron Sexsmith. And there’s a whole lot more going on on this glorious September day. Check out the WOTS website.

You can find me at the Mesdames of Mayhem’s booth WB5 from noon until 2 p.m. And at the Crime Writers of Canada’s booth 213 from 2-3 p.m.

See you there!



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Hot off the press: No Fury Like That

Prolific Lisa de Nikolits has done it again! A new novel, hot off Inanna Publications’ presses. Where does this author find the time for her job as a Toronto art director and her novel-a-year literary schedule? She even designed this book’s cover!

No Fury Like That is the dark comic rant of a furious woman wronged. Canadian writer John Oughton describes it as “Imagine if characters from The Devil Wears Prada got trapped in Sartre’s play No Exit where ‘hell is other people’.”

My take on No Fury? Read my endorsement on the back cover below:

No Fury is available for pre-orders by clicking here. Its Toronto book launch will at the Women’s Art Association of Canada, Thursday Oct. 5, 6 p.m. And you’re invited! See Lisa’s invitation below:


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TWO reasons to celebrate!

Thrilled that TWO crime fiction collections will be released this fall that include two of my short stories:

“Homebodies” in the Mesdames of Mayhem’s 13 Claws. The anthology’s launch will be held Oct. 28 at Toronto’s Sleuth of Baker Street bookstore. Pre-order by clicking here.

AND “The Queen-size Bed” in Passport to Murder, the crime fiction collection for the upcoming Bouchercon 2017 conference, which will be held in Toronto Oct. 12-15. The grand signing will take place in the downtown Sheraton’s ballroom foyer Saturday Oct. 14 from 7-8 p.m. Passport to Murder has already received a starred review from Publishers Weekly! The collection is published by Down & Out Books and is now available for pre-order by clicking here.

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Chatting with Fiona Mcvie

Fiona Mcvie, a poet and a prolific author interviewer in Plains, Scotland, has interviewed me today on Author Interviews!

Fiona Mcvie

Fiona has been chatting up authors for the past several years, finding out what they write, how they do it and why, and what makes them tick. To date, she has interviewed more than 3, 350 writers in the English-speaking world. Not surprisingly, her blog is very popular with us.

Fiona is also a cross-stitcher, a rug-maker and a baker.

Follow her on Facebook, on Twitter and on her blog.

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July bestseller!

Safe Harbor was Imajin Books’ bestselling ebook in the month of July.

And I was its bestselling author.

Not bad for an old gal and a 5-year-old mystery novel!

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