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.