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Celebrity entry: Deryn Collier

The Page Turner Challenge is on until May 22! We are looking for you to write the opening scene of a crime or mystery story (in 250 words or less). We'll post some of our favourites on the Canada Writes site. The winner of the most compelling scene (as selected by Louise Penny) will win an iPad.

To help us get started, we asked several Crime Writers of Canada members to provide us with some great examples. Here's our last example.

Excerpt from Confined Space 
By Deryn Collier

The woman’s body lay tangled in knee-high grass. She was splayed out on her stomach, with one arm stretched out before her, one knee tucked under her abdomen, as though she had been reaching, crawling, and had stopped midmotion.

“Don’t you live around here?” Resnick asked Bern.

Bern gestured silently to his gate, just a few hundred feet away. Sunflowers towered over the gateposts, their cheerful heads hanging down. Bern did not trust himself to speak. Two bodies in twenty-four hours was a lot, even for a coroner.

“She’s so young,” he said finally. It felt like his voice came from far away. He dared not close his eyes.

She wasn’t wearing much: an architecturally complicated bra—all gusset and wire— a dark purple fabric shot with gold threads, and a jean skirt stained with dirt and hiked up around the tops of her thighs. She had the perfectly dimpled skin of a fat girl—firm and plump.

“Her shoes are over there,” Resnick said with a jut of his chin to the field. “Fell off, I guess.”

Fatigue seemed to fill Bern with each breath. So many dead to care for in the here and now. And with each one, the nameless dead of the past seemed to revisit, threatening to spill out of the confines he had carefully drawn for them. Can’t you do anything about it? Evie’s words echoed in his mind. But if I forget, he thought, who will be held to account?


Deryn Collier grew up in Ottawa and Montreal and is a graduate of McGill University. After a very short career as a federal bureaucrat she ran away to the mountains of BC where she has been ever since. She has worked in a log yard, a brewery, as a doctor recruiter and a communications consultant. Deryn’s first novel, Confined Space, was shortlisted for an Arthur Ellis Award for best unpublished first crime novel by the Crime Writers of Canada. It will be published in Canada by Simon & Schuster in June 2012. Deryn lives with her family in Nelson, BC, and blogs about crime fiction and life in the mountains.

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