Thursday, 30 August 2018

Could she ever write anything straight? (in which comedy slurps into the latest work in progress)

Some readers may wonder if the humour they read on Bad Girl Blog carries over to my novels.  Here is an example:

From my current crime WIP (a Roaring Twenties Shipboard Mystery) -

Tony was pacing now.  “You can’t … Lucy, don’t tell me you’re thinking to hide a dead man in your cabin.”

“Nonsense, darling,” I said.  “How long could that last?  It wouldn’t be sanitary.”  I took a deep breath. “Actually, I was thinking of the deep blue sea.”

My so-called maid Elf nodded.  “Seems the thing.”

“At this point, we must think of Harry and what he would like,” I said.  “A romantic burial at sea?  Or being torn apart while all exposed on a cold slate coroner’s table?” 

Elf shivered.  “Bloody butchers.”

“Harry?” said Tony.  He was a sentence or two behind.

“Well, Tom, Dick or Harry.  He didn’t look like a Tom to me,” I said.

“Might be a dick,” said Elf.

“We don’t know that,” I scolded.

Saturday, 25 August 2018

It Gets Harder (Praise and Imposter Syndrome)

by Melodie Campbell (Bad which we admit that praise comes with a nasty side dish)

"the Canadian literary heir to Donald Westlake" EQMM, Sept-Oct 2018 issue
How the HELL will I ever live up to this?

A while back, I was on a panel where the moderator asked the question,
"Does it get harder or easier, with each successive book?"

"Easier," said one cozy writer, a woman I respect and know well.  "Because I know what I'm doing now."

I stared at her in surprise.

"Harder.  Definitely harder," said my pal Linwood Barclay, sitting beside me.

I sat back with relief.  The why was easy.  I answered that.

"Harder for two reasons," I said.  "First, you've already used up a lot of good ideas.  I've written 40 short stories and 18 novels.  That's nearly 60 plot ideas.  It gets harder to be original."

Linwood nodded along with me.

"Second, you've already established a reputation with your previous books.  If they were funny, people expect the next one to be even funnier.  It gets harder and harder to meet people's expectations."

This conversation came back to me this week, when I got a very nice surprise (thanks, Barb Goffman, for pointing me to it.)  Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine reviewed my latest book, and called me "the Canadian literary heir to Donald Westlake."

At first, I was ecstatic, and so very very grateful.  Donald Westlake was a huge influence on me.  I still think his book where everyone on the heist team spoke a different language to be one of the zaniest plots of all time.  To be considered in his class is a wonderful thing.

And then, the doubts started.  I'm now looking at my work in progress with different eyes.  Is this plot fresh?  Is it as clever as I thought it was?  Am I still writing funny?

Would Donald Westlake fans like it?

Or am I the world's worst imposter?

So many authors on Sleuthsayers are award-winning.  All of you will, I'm sure, relate to this a little bit.  Was that award win a one-off?  Okay, so you have more than one award.  Were those stories exceptions?  You haven't won an award in two years.  Have you lost it?

Will I ever write anything as good as that last book?

I'm dealing hugely with imposter syndrome right now.  It's a blasted roller coaster.  I know I should be spreading that EQMM  quote far and wide, on Facebook, Twitter, blog posts, etc.  Possibly, I should be buying ads.  And at the same time, I'm stalling in my WIP, with the feeling of 'never good enough.'

Luckily, the publisher deadline will keep me honest.  I work pretty well under pressure.  Next week, for sure, I'll get back to the book.

This week, I'll smile in public and suffer a little bit in silence.

The book causing all this grief:  on Amazon  

Tuesday, 21 August 2018

"Bawdy, Lusty and Fun" Bestseller ROWENA THROUGH THE WALL on sale for 99 cents!

This lovely poster was created by Alison Bruce. You can pick up the international bestseller ROWENA THROUGH THE WALL on Amazon for a short time at 99 cents! FREE, with Kindle Unlimited. 
"Bawdy, Lusty and Fun"

Go to my Books page above and click on the link!

Sunday, 19 August 2018

Possibly have died and gone to heaven....

"the Canadian literary heir to Donald Westlake"
Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine

The look of my website is not the only thing new this week. 
(Hope you noticed the less flamboyant look.  Some well-intentioned yet clearly misguided people
are attempting to make me appear classy, bless their hearts.)

Many thanks to Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine for the above quotable quote!
I am flattered beyond words.
I am also terrified.
HOW will I live up to this, in future books?

IN the Sept issue of Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine, in Jury Box, the following review of The B-Team.

Melodie Campbell, The B-Team: The Case of the Angry First Wife, Orca, $9.95. The Toronto Sun calls her the Canadian “Queen of Comedy,” but I like to think of her as the Canadian literary heir to Donald Westlake. After five books featuring mafia goddaughter Gina Gallo, Campbell has launched this spin-off series about a bumbling team of vigilante heroes led by Gina’s cousin Del and seventy-something-year-old former cat burglar Great Aunt Kitty. The fast-paced humor is characterized by situations that are simultaneously madcap and bizarrely banal.

on Amazon

Monday, 13 August 2018


Will Gina make it to the altar finally?
Book 6 in The Goddaughter series 
Orca Books
(What...there might be mob in Vegas?)

Sunday, 29 July 2018


Back by popular request (okay, for the seriously twisted person who missed it first time round and asked me to post it again)
OATLANDER – Why I can never write a book straight

It happened again.  One little letter got switched around, and those little writer demons in my head let loose.

It started with a quote from an industry reviewer, regarding my time travel series starting with Rowena Through the Wall.  I was trying to quote:  “OUTLANDER meets SEX AND THE CITY.”
Nice way to describe Rowena et al.  I’m very grateful to him.  But of course, I messed up the spelling of Outlander.

So here’s a sneak preview of my next book:


Claire (okay, lets change that to Flaire) falls through time and lands in virtually the same country she did in that other book.  The country that thinks using animal bladders for instruments is a really neat idea.

“What the heck,” says Flaire, looking around at all the sheep.  “This isn’t Kansas.”

“Ach no,” says ruggedly handsome and unmarried oat farmer, who might possibly be named Jamie (okay, let’s change that to –heck, nothing rhymes.  Tamie?  Bamie?  Okay, Balmy.  “And why are you wearing just your slip, lass?”

Flaire (looking down): “Blast. So’s I am.  Well, fuck a duck.”

Balmy:  “Canna no dae that, lass. Only sheep here.”

<We travel further along in the story, to the battle of Culloden, where Balmy and the local rebels exchange words.>

Leader of Rebels:  “Today  will go down in history, lads!  Grab yer spikes and pitch forks!  We go to spill English blood!”

Balmy: “Not on me oat field, ye don’t.”


Flaire, watching everyone trip over sheep.  “This isn’t going to end well.”

Balmy:  “Back to Kansas, Lass?”

Flaire:  “Sure.  No oats though. We’d have to call this…Cornlander.

Balmy <scratching chin>:  “But that would be-“

Flaire:  “Corny?”

Sunday, 15 July 2018

The Trouble with Mages

For those who loved Rowena: this is a plot line I played with for book 3 of the trilogy, but determined it strayed too far into erotica for the Land's End Trilogy. Now available as a short single.
Click Here

Thursday, 28 June 2018


This week, I'm honoured to be featured on the ELLERY QUEEN MYSTERY MAGAZINE BLOG!

Here's a teaser:

“Things that Drive Crime Writers CRAZY” (by Melodie Campbell)

Last week, all three of Dell Magazines’ mystery fiction editors—Linda Landrigan, editor-in-chief of AHMM, Jackie Sherbow, associate editor of EQMM and AHMM, and I—were interviewed on SleuthSayers, a blog by and for “professional crime writers and crime fighters.” In exchange for our interviews, a call went out to regular SleuthSayers contributors to blog for our sites. EQMM was delighted to receive this post from Melodie Campbell (known on SleuthSayers as Bad Girl). Called the “Queen of Comedy” by the Toronto Sun, the Canadian author has won nearly a dozen crime-fiction awards, including the Derringer and the Arthur Ellis. She is the past Executive Director of Crime Writers of Canada and the author of a number of highly regarded crime novels. Her short fiction has appeared in AHMM and other publications; EQMM readers will have seen stellar reviews of her Goddaughter series in The Jury Box.—Janet Hutchings
I’m a crime writer.  Hell, I’ll put on my other hat (the one with the pointy top) and say it.  I got my start writing comedy. Standup and newspaper columns, with the odd (very odd) greeting card thrown in.

I have a certain amount of legitimacy, in that The Toronto Sun called me “Canada’s Queen of Comedy.” Apparently, someone on staff there likes “wild and loopy.” Which may call into question their sanity as much as mine, but I digress.

I now write comic capers (the Goddaughter series). This is because I made the biggest mistake ever made by a person not legally insane.

Way back when we all had pet dinosaurs, one of my plays was performed in Toronto (Burglar for Coffee.) It may have been a bit zany. A television producer happened to be in the audience. After the show, he came up to me and said, “You are completely nuts. How would you like to write pilots for me? You’ll need to move to California.”

I had two toddlers at the time. And I’m Canadian. No way could I see how I could move to California. So I said no. Besides. It was 1993. Who had ever heard of HBO?

As I said, the biggest mistake ever made by someone not legally insane.

So I turned to a life of crime. Okay, writing crime capers. I come by that legitimately, but that’s another blog post. (How to Write Mob Comedies Without Getting Taken Out by The Family. And you thought I was kidding. . . .)

Which brings me to the point of this blog: suspension of disbelief.  I’m willing to admit that as an audience, we might agree to “suspend belief” for a little while. As a writer, I do it regularly. As a reader and viewer, I delight when someone takes me into another world.

But enough is enough. Crime fiction and television, you go too far. CSI Hoboken, or wherever you are, take note. Here are some things that drive otherwise fairly normal crime writers (oxymoron alert) crazy:
  1. Crime scene people in high heels and raw cleavage.


Sunday, 17 June 2018

B-Team in great company

Hot Damn! One of the coolest things for a writer is being next on the shelf to your very favourite author: in my case, Andrea Camilleri (Montalbano). Thanks to a reader for sending this in! (Indigo/Chapters, Burlington)

Monday, 11 June 2018

Warning: Political humour: The Independent State of Penetang

Warning: Like most comedians, I'm an equal opportunity humorist.  Left or Right, it's all fodder.  Today, it's the Liberal Feds.  
Next, I'm just waiting to see what Doug Ford will inspire...

09:36, Parliament Building East Wing

“This is weird,” said Mark, flipping through screens.


“It says here that Penetang has declared independence.”

The other civil service head looked up. “Where is that? In Africa?”

“Somewhere north of Orillia, I think. Or maybe Parry Sound.  I’m looking it up.”

The older man frowned. “You mean the county of Penetang?”

“Seems like it. They’ve blocked the roads, it says here.  Just a sec.” 
He scrowled further.  “They’re using tractors and farm equipment.  And cows.”

A gasp.  “They’re sacrificing cows?”

“Nope. Herding live ones.  The cars can’t get by.”

“Merde. We need to inform the Prime Minister.”

11:00, Live from Penetang

“This is Mandy Flambeau, reporting from rebellion headquarters, at the Puckyew community hockey rink in downtown Penetang.  It’s sort of quiet here, Len.  Maybe they’re all out on the protest lines?  Oh wait – I see somebody! Sir, sir…over here.  Can you tell us what this rebellion is really about?”

“Taxes.  Sick an’ tired of those federal freeloaders takin’ our taxes and spending them in the city. We want our money spent here.  Not on subways and free daycare for city folk.”

Gasp.  “Daycare?  You’re against daycare?”

“You see any kids around here? No young people in Penetang anymore.  No jobs for them.  Only seniors now.

“You want free daycare for seniors?”

13:43,  The Prime Minister’s office.

“Mr. Prime Minister, we have a situation.”

<groan> “Not another Tweet from the Twit.”

“This is local, sir.  I need to brief you on the rebellion in Penetang.  PETA have moved in. Because of the cows.”

“Say what?”

“The rebels in Penatang have blocked the roads with cows.  And now PETA has established protest lines to protect the animals.”

“Hmmm… Are you thinking what I’m thinking?”

“Sir, I think we have an opportunity here.”

“A photo op?  Oh goodie!  What do they wear in Penetang?”

“Uh…overalls and flannel shirts?”

“Awesome.  Get Holt Renfrew on the line.  We want these Canadian made.”

“Yes sir.  Will you be leaving immediately?”

“I’m texting Sophie and the kids.  Maybe we can make a vacation out of it.  Does the Aga have a place up there?”

14:00, Back at East Wing:

“Mark, are you from farm country?”

“Nope. Born and bred here in Ottawa.”

“We may be overacting.  Maybe this won't be such a crisis. The cows.”

“What about them?”

“They’ll simply go home to be milked at five.”

to be continued, unless someone pays the writer to stop...

Thursday, 7 June 2018

Golden Oak Awards Today! Here's what I'm going to say...

With THE BOOTLEGGER'S GODDAUGHTER shortlisted for the OLA Golden Oak Award, I've been asked to give a short talk at the award ceremony.  Here's what I'm saying:

I thought you might want to know how books happen.

Anyone who has read The Goddaughter books knows they are comedies.  But you may not know that I got my start writing standup.  I wrote for comedians, and I also had a newspaper humour column.

About ten years ago, Orca Book Publishers wanted to add comedy to their Rapid Reads line.  All the books they had at the time were pretty serious.  So they asked if I’d write a comedy series for them.

The Goddaughter series is about a mob goddaughter who doesn’t want to be one.  But her mob family can’t do anything right, so she’s always dragged back in to clean up the mess. 

It’s a perfect series for me to write, because although I’m not a mob goddaughter, my family had family that was in the mob.  Plus, I lived close to Hamilton.  I could set the books in Hamilton, which is a fun and quirky place.

Now, writing books is a lonely job.  You basically sit alone at a desk for hundreds of hours.  And when your book comes out, it’s sort of quiet.  It’s not like you’re at a play, and people applaud at the end of it.

So feedback from readers is SO important.  When The Goddaughter came out, I got in touch with the Hamilton Literacy Council.  Asked if they wanted to be involved in the launch.  They said yes, and seven books later, I’m happy to call many of their students my friends.

So when I asked what they wanted me to write next, they said, “We want a romantic comedy!”  My publisher listened.  And Worst Date Ever came out this fall.

I guess what I’m saying is, we really do listen to you.  My goal in writing these books is to make reading fun.  For *you*.

And so, The Bootlegger’s Goddaughter is shortlisted today.  I’m so very grateful.  But you know what I’m even more grateful for?  At the launch of this book, a man came up to me and said, “If it weren’t for the Goddaughter books, I wouldn’t be able to read now.”

I can’t tell you what that meant to me.  It's made all the difference.  Please, please, if you really like a book, let the author know.  It goes two ways.   

You have the power to make a difference to her.

Thursday, 31 May 2018

A SHIP CALLED PANDORA - Mystery Weekly June issue!

Most people know me as the author of THE GODDAUGHTER crime caper series.
However, I actually got my start writing sci-fi fantasy short stories, back when we had pet dinosaurs. 
(These days I write more novels. The Rowena books are fantasy; Code Name: Gypsy Moth is sci-fi.)

It isn't often that I get a chance to genre-mash my two favourites.  But hell, it's fun when I do.

Now appearing in MYSTERY WEEKLY, JUNE ISSUE: my favourite short story in a decade:  


Tosh Malloy has a fast ship and a regulation blaster.  Years ago, she made the change from intergalactic smuggler to Witness Protection Marshal.  She’s particularly good at making people disappear. But now a troublesome Showgirl client threatens to upend Tosh’s perfect record…

Paperback is available through click here  
Digital through, click here