Welcome to Crime Month on Canada Writes! For the next 31 days there’ll be nothing but murder mystery, murder and mayhem on our site, and largely thanks to our our partners on this project: the Crime Writers of Canada
There’s a lot in store, including an impressive, daily “How To” Guide for aspiring writers written by their members. We start with John Moss’s musings on travel and crime.
And there’ll be a lot of other things as well - a Master Class with Louise Penny, a selection of bone-chilling 5-Minute Mysteries, excerpts from some of the works up for this year’s Arthur Ellis Awards, and also the public Page Turner Challenge.
To start things off we thought we would catch up with President of the Crime Writes of Canada, Garry Ryan, and ask him about the organization as well as his own writing.
Tell us about the Crime Writers of Canada.
We are a non-profit organization with a mandate for promoting Canadian crime writers.
What does being part of the CWC do for writers?
It offers opportunities to get the word out about their books, meet other crime writers, learn from published writers and get to know writers from across the country. Mostly it’s the people. There are some very fine, funny, kind, talented people in the organization.
How did you get involved with the association?
NeWest Press suggested it when my first book came out.
You published your first novel at 50. Did you always know that you wanted to write crime fiction? How did you realize this was the genre for you?
I always knew I wanted to write and became fascinated by the way crime fiction allowed the reader to get to know a particular place, its people and all of their complex unwritten social rules.
What is it about this genre that inspires you as a writer?
So many things. Other fascinating writers. Opportunities to travel in the mind. Characters like Lisbeth Salander, Arkady Renko, Guido Brunetti, Arthur Beauchamp, Christopher Foyle, Adelia Aguilar
You're the author of the Detective Lane series. Can you talk about how the character of Detective Lane came to you?
I noticed that really talented people often pass unnoticed. There are so many remarkably ordinary people with extraordinary talents. Lane is one of them.
What do you, as the person who's brought him to life, know about him now that you didn't know in the first book of the series?
I found out why he does what he does, the horrible childhood experience that keeps him in the hunt.
What's more important to crime fiction succeeding or failing: the crime or the sleuth?
Both. The one can’t dance without its partner.
Your Detective Lane books are based in Calgary. How important is setting to a crime novel?
Crucial. The setting becomes like another character. Often, fan feedback about the Lane novels is about the setting.
The writing challenge we're doing this month is the "Page Turner Challenge", where we're looking for first lines that hook the reader. How important is the beginning of a crime novel? Any tips for how to do it right -- and what NOT to do?
It’s an art in itself. I like a bit of subtlety and a hook. You know, suggest/imply that something big is about to happen.
Ryan was born, raised and lives in Calgary, Alberta. He is the author of the
Detective Lane mystery series, which includes the Lambda Literary Award-winning
The Lucky Elephant Restaurant. Other books in the series include Queen's Park, A
Hummingbird Dance, Smoked, and Malabarista. Garry has a B.Ed and a Diploma in
Educational Psychology from the University of Calgary, and taught for more than
thirty years in Calgary public schools.