Friday, 30 August 2019

Most Gifted

This is Cool!  Apparently Crime Club is the most gifted book on Amazon.ca (I had hoped it was clever)


Wednesday, 28 August 2019

The story of the Pug on the Cover...

I donated a character name to the Burlington Humane Society charity auction (we're big on animal rescue in this family.) The winner asked if it would be possible to do his dog rather than a human. 
So Wolfgang the Pug became a co-star in Crime Club!
Sunny, my wonderful St. John Ambulance therapy dog, would have approved...

Monday, 26 August 2019

TODAY! CRIME CLUB now available on AMAZON, Chapters, Barnes & Noble, iTunes, Kobo, and all the usual suspects!

Scooby-Do meets the Sopranos!

CRIME CLUB, Orca Books Soundings, 9.95, at all the usual suspects, including AMAZON


Sixteen year old Penny has moved with her huge dog Ollie to a small town pub owned by her great-aunt.  It’s a relief to start over in a place where no one knows her father is in prison

It’s summer, and the only one she knows in town is her nerdy cousin Simon.  Soon she meets Simon’s best friend Brent, his twin sister Tara and their pug Wolfgang.

When Ollie digs up a human bone in the back yard of the pub, police are called.  It turns out the bone is over twenty years old.  Who can the dead person be?  Surely Aunt Stella can’t be involved. 

Penny and her new friends decide to investigate.  And before long they discover one thing: if you’ve killed before, you can kill again.


Now Available online and in stores!  Official launch and media event at Eastgate Mall, Hamilton, on October 4.  More details to come...



Wednesday, 31 July 2019

THEMES IN NOVELS (In which Bad Girl discovers she's not as flaky as she thought...)

by Melodie Campbell

One of the great discussions in the author world is whether your book should have a theme or not. Of course it’s going to have a plot. (Protagonist with a problem or goal and obstacles to that goal – real obstacles that matter - which are resolved by the end.) But does a book always have a theme?

Usually when we’re talking ‘theme’, we’re putting the story into a more serious category. Margaret Atwood (another Canadian – smile) tells a ripping good story in The Handmaid’s Tale. But readers would agree there is a serious theme underlying it, a warning, in effect.

Now, I write comedies. Crime heists and romantic comedies, most recently. They are meant to be fun and entertaining. So you can imagine my surprise when I discovered recently that all of my books have rather serious themes behind them.

Last Friday, I was interviewed for a CBC (Canadian Broadcasting Corporation) mini-documentary featuring female Canadian crime writers. During this, the producer got me talking about the background to my most awarded series, The Goddaughter. This crime caper series is about a mob goddaughter who doesn’t want to be one, but keeps getting dragged back to bail out her inept mob family.

I know what it’s like to be a part of an Italian family that may have had ties to the mob. (In the past. My generation is squeaky clean.) The producer asked me If that informed my writing. Of course it did. But in our discussion, she stopped me when I said: “You are supposed to love and support your family. But what if your family is *this* one?”

Voila. There it was: a theme. All throughout the Goddaughter series, Gina Gallo grapples with this internal struggle.
So then I decided to look at my other books. The B-team is a spin-off from The Goddaughter series. It’s a funny take on The A-team television series. A group of well-meaning vigilantes set out to do good, but as this is comedy, things go awry. In fact, the tag-line is: “They do wrong for all the right reasons…and sometimes it even works.”

Was there a theme behind this premise? Was there a *question asked*? And yes, to me, it was clear.

In The B-Team, I play with the concept: Is it ever all right to do illegal things to right a wrong?

Back up to the beginning. My first series was fantasy. Humorous fantasy, of course. Rowena Through the Wall basically is a spoof of Outlander type books. Rowena falls through a portal into a dark ages world, and has wild and funny adventures. I wrote it strictly to entertain…didn’t I? And yet, the plot revolves around the fact that women are scarce in this time. They’ve been killed off by war. I got the idea from countries where women were scarce due to one-child policies. So what would happen…I mused…if women were scarce? Would they have more power in their communities? Or would the opposite happen. Would they have even less control of their destinies, as I posited?

A very strong, serious theme underlying a noted “hilarious” book. Most readers would never notice it. But some do, and have commented. That gets this old gal very excited.
I’ve come to the conclusion that writers – even comedy writers – strive to say something about our world. Yes, I write to entertain. But the life questions I grapple with find their way into my novels, by way of underlying themes. I’m not into preaching. That’s for non-fiction. But If I work them in well, a reader may not notice there is an author viewpoint behind the work.

Yes, I write to entertain. But I’ve come to the conclusion that behind every novel is an author with something to say. Apparently, I’m not as flaky as I thought.

What about you? Do you look for a theme in novels? Or if a writer, do you find your work conforms to specific themes?



Got teen readers in your family? Here's the latest crime comedy, out this month:

On AMAZON

Monday, 22 July 2019

VEGAS, BABY! In which Bad Girl explains how an imaginary Vegas hotel rocks the latest Goddaughter

By Melodie Campbell

Whether to use a real setting or make one up?  That is the question.

Butchering Shakespeare aside (which I do cheerfully, if not cleverly) all authors have to decide whether to set their novel in a real place or not.  There are advantages and disadvantages to each.

In the Goddaughter series, I set the books in a real place – Hamilton Ontario, also known as Steeltown, or The Hammer.  Everyone who has ever been over the Skyway bridge on the way to Toronto (one hour from Buffalo) will experience a taste of Hamilton.

“I live in The Hammer.  Our skyline includes steel plants.  We consider smog a condiment,” says Gina Gallo, the mob goddaughter of the series.

I don’t have to describe much to put you in that setting.  It’s sort of like New York or Paris.  Give a few landmarks we all know, plus in this case assault your mouth and nose with metallic fumes, and the author has put you there without endless description.

The problem with using a real setting is you need to know the place well, because if you make an innocent error, like forgetting that some streets are one way, you will get hundreds of irate emails from readers who know the place better than you do.

Luckily, I know Hamilton well.  I know where to buy the best cannoli (always my test re how well you know a place.)

I use real settings whenever I can.  Readers who live in the place love to see their town highlighted.  You can often get local media interested in your book.  And people new to the location often get a kick out of coming to know it, in a literal way. 

So when I moved book 6 of the Goddaughter series to Vegas, I had a dilemma. Here’s the thing.  So many people have been to Vegas, that you have to be very careful to ‘get it right.’  I was there a few years ago, and am very aware that things change.

It takes about 6 months for me to write a Goddaughter book.  Off it goes to the publisher, who takes about 15-18 months to get it out to stores.  That’s the thing about books.  Anything on the shelves right now was probably written two years ago.

In two years, things in Vegas change.  Hotels redecorate, and maybe change ownership. It became clear to me, that while I wanted this book to be clearly ‘Vegas,’ I needed to be careful.  I’ve stayed at the Mirage.  I could have used that as a base. But when writing the book, I couldn’t predict how things would look there two years from now.

The answer?  Create a new hotel!  Make it the newest and hippest thing, so of course no one has seen it before.  And that’s where I had fun.  What hasn’t been done, I thought?  What theme would present a whole lot of fun, yet be completely whacky, in keeping with the Goddaughter series?

Whoot!  It came to me immediately.  Hotel name:  The Necropolis!  Theme:  Morticia meets The Walking Dead.  We could ramp up the loopiness by throwing a Zombie convention.  And then add a Viking Valhalla casino, a bar called Embalmed, the Crematorium Grill steakhouse…

So The Goddaughter Does Vegas is a hybrid.  The setting is the Vegas you know.  The hotel is a new concoction, but fitting with the fantasy atmosphere that Vegas is famous for. 

I got away with it this time.  I think.

How about you?  Do you use real settings or do you make them up?  When reading, which do you prefer?




Wednesday, 19 June 2019

Being a Goddess Sucks When your Characters Won’t Behave… (more silly stuff from Bad Girl)


(Dave, are you smiling down on me?  My comedy is back)


Recently, my characters have become more mouthy. 

I like to think of myself as their creator.  Goddess material.  Without me, they wouldn’t have a life on the page, or anywhere, for that matter.  This should buy me a certain amount of respect, I figure.  Sort of like you might give a minor deity.  After all, I have created five series for them to live in.

Unfortunately, my characters haven’t bought into that.  Worse, they seem to have cast me into the role of mother.  That’s me: a necessary embarrassment for the perpetuation of their lives.  And like all kids, they squabble.  They fight with each other for attention.  I liken it to sibling jealousy.

To wit:
“You haven’t written about me lately,” says Rowena, star of Rowena Through the Wall.


I try to ignore the petulance in her voice.

“Been busy,” I mumble.  “Gina (The Goddaughter) had to get married in Vegas.  And Del,  a relative of hers, started a vigilante group.”

“I don’t care if she started a rock group.  You’re supposed to be writing MY story.”

I turn away from the keyboard and frown at her.  “Listen, toots.  You wouldn’t have any stories at ALL if it weren’t for me.  You’ve had three books of adventures with men.  A normal gal would be exhausted.  So please be patient and wait your turn.  Jennie had to suck it up for Worst Date EverDel and The B-Team were next in line.  You can be after that, maybe.”   
 
Maybe.  I wasn’t going to tell her about the 6th Goddaughter book currently in the works.

“It’s not fair.  I came first!  Before all those silly mob comedies,” Row whines.  “Don’t forget!  I was the one who got you bestseller status.”  She points at her ample chest.

“Hey!” says Gina, fresh from cannoli central.  “And which book won the Derringer and the Arthur Ellis?  Not some trashy old fantasy novel.”

“Who are YOU calling trashy?”  says Rowena, balling her hands into fists.  “Just because my bodice rips in every scene….”

“Like THAT isn’t a plot device,” chides Gina.

“Oh, PLEASE don’t fight,” says Jennie, the plucky romance heroine of Worst Date Ever.  “I just want everyone to have a Happy Ever After.  Can’t you do that for us all, Mom?  Er…Melodie?”

I look at Del, from The B-Team.  “What do you think?”

Del shrugs.  “Sounds sucky.  What kind of crap story would that be?  Bugger, is that the time?  I got a second story job that needs doing.  Cover for me, will you?  And this time, let me know if the cops
start sniffing around.”

“Cops?”  says Gina.  “Crap!  I’m outta here.”

“Cops?” says Rowena.  “There’s that little matter of a dead body in book 2…” She vanishes.

“Cops?” says Jennie, hopefully.  “OH! Is one of them single?”




Book 15 is now out!  THE GODDAUGHTER DOES VEGAS
(Don't tell Rowena...)