Monday, June 04, 2012

Fun at Bloody Words Conference 2012

I just returned from my first Bloody Words conference in Toronto since 2000. Although I was born in Toronto, my parents left when I was a baby so my connection to it is kind of strange. I have relatives there, yet the city feels like a foreign world on the rare occasions I return. I have to say, though, that the clouds and rain, and downtown construction which messed up traffic was a lot like being home in Vancouver.

As a member of Crime Writers of Canada’s executive board, it was time for me to brave the long plane ride and finally return. I was impressed with the Hilton’s facilities and really enjoyed the conference. Things were easy to find and the coffee maker in my room was a huge bonus, since I averaged 4 to 5 hours of sleep a night.

Aside from the great pleasure of seeing old friends and meeting new ones, there were many highlights, but I can’t cover them all, so I’ll focus on Thursday night, which was the banquet to announce the Arthur Ellis Awards winners (I listed the nominees back in April). As part of our promotion efforts to raise CWC’s profile, a couple of board members arranged a special themed dessert with Sugarstars, a team of people who produce a show for The Food Network, which will be shown in August (date to be announced).

After the banquet and awards ceremony, we were hurdled to another room where the TV cameras and desserts were waiting. The team recreated an autopsy room, complete with a skeleton and x-rays on screens. There was a shrouded “corpse” with two large feet made of cake sticking out. You know, it’s pretty weird when someone’s standing there with a knife, asking if you’d like one toe, or two. Also, there were arteries, cupcakes iced with “brains” which looked far too real to eat. There were also test tubes filled with a red drink I wasn’t bold enough to try either, plus “eyeballs”. For a moment, I thought I'd walked into a horror set, but it was all great fun.

And here’s the list of Arthur Ellis winners:

Best Crime Short Story went to Cathy Astolfo for “What Kelly Did” in NorthWord Magazine. Cathy was also awarded the Derrick Murdoch Award for her many contributions over the years to Crime Writers of Canada.

Best Crime Nonfiction went to Joshua Knelman for his book Hot Art: Chasing Thieves and Detectives Through the Secret World of Stolen Art.

Best Juvenile or Young Adult Crime went to Tim Wynne-Jones for his novel Blink & Caution.

Best Crime Book in French went to Martin Michaud, for La chorale du diable

Best Unpublished First Novel went to Sam Wiebe for Last of the Independents

Best First Novel went to Ian Hamilton for The Water Rat of Wanchai

Best Crime Novel went to Peter Robinson for Before the Poison

The Derrick Murdoch Award also went to Don Graves, a terrific reviewer for the Hamilton Spectator and longtime supporter of Canadian crime fiction and crime writers.

Needless to say, there were many more highlights throughout the conference, but it would take too long to mention them all here. All I can say is that another Toronto conference will be held in 2014. Be there!

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