The Nomination of Mary Mabel McTavish

The Nomination of Mary Mabel McTavish

Posted on April 24 by Kyle in Awards, Fiction
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We are thrilled to announce that Allan Stratton’s 2014 novel, The Resurrection of Mary Mabel McTavish, has been shortlisted for the prestigious 2015 Bony Blithe Award for Best Canadian Light Mystery. This is not the first major award nomination for Stratton, whose first adult novel, The Phoenix Lottery, was shortlisted for the Stephen Leacock Medal for Humour.

Since its release in April 2014, Stratton’s Depression-era satire has proved to be a hit with readers and critics alike, earning stellar reviews in NOW MagazineBooklist, the Winnipeg Free Press, the London Free Press, in addition to numerous other outlets.

Each year the Bony Blithe honours the best in Canadian “light” mystery, an often overlooked genre. This year’s winner will be announced at a ceremony in Toronto on Friday, May 29th and receive a cash prize of $1,000.For more information, or to purchase tickets to the gala, please visit:


We asks Allan Stratton a few questions about his book.


Tell us about your book.

The Resurrection of Mary Mabel McTavish is a satire about greed, celebrity and media manipulation set in the Dirty Thirties. A young boy is electrocuted at a revival meeting when the cross on top of the revival tent is struck by lightning. Believing she’s guided by her late mother, Mary Mabel lays on hands and the boy apparently resurrects. The Hearst Press gets wind of the tale and soon Mary Mabel is a star, rocketing from small town Ontario to Los Angeles. Jack Warner, J. Edgar  Hoover and the Rockettes round out a cast of Bolshevik hoboes, Ponzi promoters, and Hollywood hustlers.


What was your first publication?

My play The Rusting Heart. James Reaney published it in his literary magazine Alphabet in 1968, when I was seventeen; it was broadcast on CBC radio within the year.


What's the best advice you've ever received as a writer?

Write, write, write: Read, read, read.


Describe the most memorable response you've received from a reader.

Chandra's Secret is my 2004 novel set against the African HIV/AIDS pandemic about a young woman whose mother is dying. I received an email from a teacher in subSahara. (The book is widely taught internationally.) The students told me her students were too ashamed to talk about their own parents’ deaths, but were about to talk to each other about how Chanda had dealt with hers, and to read the book aloud to younger siblings. That meant a lot to them. I’ve held that response close to me heart ever since.


Who did you read as a young adult?

In 1964, I was fourteen. I loved theatre and mainly read plays: Beckett, Ionesco and – my favourite – Edward Albee. (Also Reaney, Miller and Tennessee Williams.)