Mystery

Category: Mystery

(Photos by: Dave Butler)

 

Should fiction be used for good, or for evil?

That was the question posed to me at a recent festival where I was giving the keynote speech. I had shared my thoughts with the evening’s participants about how the relatively new literary genre known as eco-fiction has influenced conservation, and vice-versa. I offered a list of books that I believe have played that role, including Margaret Atwood’s MaddAddam Trilogy, The Road by Cormac McCarthy and even Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax, among many others.

If you grew up in Windsor, you probably first learned about Prohibition through stories told to you by your grandparents. These bootleggers and their wild adventures along the Detroit River are a part of local folklore. As a kid, I didn’t really care how much of it was true – I just thought they were great stories. Then along came Marty Gervais’ The Rumrunners, full of photos, newspaper excerpts, and interviews, and that made it real.

Do you believe in ghosts? Yes, I’m talking to you. Well, do you? Do you believe in ghosts?

I’ve always been fascinated by things that go bump in the night. I remember as a child devouring the old Usborne volume on ‘Ghosts’ and being ecstatic when I stumbled upon copies of Fate magazine. My imagination was filled with stories of the restless dead that left my heart fluttering with panic. I didn’t want to imagine what would happen if I actually encountered a spirit that refused to rest in its grave despite being bound with wards and blessing. It was terrifyingly thrilling.

Picture yourself fifty kilometers west of Calgary, at the point where natural prairie gives way to densely forested foothills. The hamlet of Bragg Creek sprawls along the picturesque Elbow River; its homes and businesses spread through the heavily-treed valley. Upstream are the Elbow Falls, Bragg Creek’s best-known tourist attraction. The Falls display their glacier-fed beauty in a pristine wilderness guarded by pathways and railings intended to keep the annual flood of visitors safe. Every few years someone chasing the perfect photograph passes a railing and slips off a rock.

Watching the birds at my bird feeder the other day, it was quite clear from the way they puffed out their chests and strutted around that they were auditioning for a title role in some future Birder Murder Mystery. For the benefit of these avian aspirants, I’d thought I would run through the characteristics I look for in a leading bird.

My friends often look at me as if trying to understand what goes on in the recesses of my brain. “Where do you get your ideas?” they ask. “You know, for murder and stuff.”

“I’m not really sure,” I usually respond, but the truth is that an idea for a storyline can come from a number of unexpected sources. A writer only needs to be open to grasping onto one when it flashes by.

Fabulism

Posted on May 8 by R.M. Greenaway in Fiction, Mystery

In day-to-day life I’m fairly unflappable, but when it comes to writing, I’m a worrier, always finding new things to flap about. Last year it was a concern that there’s an element of the unreal in my BC Blues crime series. I felt that to fit on the shelf labelled “Police Procedural,” a novel has to reflect life to a T, with grit, dirt, cruelty, violence, and all the rest, and should never touch on magic.

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