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Thriller Awards announced

The 2017 Thriller Awards were announced July 15 during the International Thriller WritersThrillerFest XII at the Grand Hyatt in New York City.

Congratulations to all the winners!

Before the Fall, by Noah Hawley (Grand Central Publishing)
The Body Reader, by Anne Frasier (Thomas & Mercer)
The Drifter, by Nicholas Petrie (G.P. Putnam’s Sons)     <– coming to #Bcon2017
Romeo’s Way, by James Scott Bell (Compendium Press)
Steeplejack, by A.J. Hartley (TOR Teen)
“Big Momma,” by Joyce Carol Oates in Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine

Twist Phelan answers: “What Bouchercon has meant to me…”

I travel. A lot. According to my travel planning software, over the past five years I’ve flown over half a million miles to 278 cities in 53 countries, with several repeated (very) often. (Spain! Italy!) I spend almost as much time abroad as I do in the States.

Among those many journeys were trips to New Orleans, Raleigh, Long Beach, and Cleveland to attend Bouchercons. They were the trips I felt as though I were vacationing and not traveling.

This may seem counterintuitive. After all, I’m a full-time writer. Most of my traveling is work-related; I research, plot, promote, and write while on the road. So attending a convention of my peers and fans shouldn’t be considered vacation, right?

Yet the whole time in New Orleans, Raleigh, etc., I was relaxed. I enjoyed attending the panels, catching up with old friends, making new ones. Sure, every day was physically exhausting (I basically get no sleep during these conventions), but at the end of each trip I felt refreshed.

Twist Phelan and Laura Lippman

For almost a decade (and through two hair colors—me), I’ve been doing high-heel yoga with Laura Lippman at Bouchercon.

I love to travel and see the world. It’s a key component of my intellectual and social growth, a chance to learn about other cultures and other histories. I never want to stop exploring the globe. That said, never do I think before leaving on an international trip, “Ah, I’m going on vacation!” That’s because at the heart of it, I’m working, which to me equates to traveling. Navigating my way around Tokyo or Marrakesh may be a memory I’ll have forever, but I don’t find it relaxing or refreshing. (Does anyone?) That doesn’t make it less valuable, of course.



My trips to Bouchercon serve more or less the same purpose for me as a beach or mountain trip might for other folks. It was a good reminder how wonderful it is to do while not exactly nothing, something close. Perhaps a better way to put it is it reminded me how nice it was to experience the familiar in terms of food, transportation, language, and people.Twist Phelan and Laura Lippman

So maybe there are two types of experiences you can have when you pack your bag and take off: travel and vacation. Travel means seeing the world, revving up your sense of adventure and putting your brain to work processing new experiences. Vacation is for re-energizing yourself, enjoying your surroundings at a slower pace and taking a break from stress.

So whether you’ll be traveling or vacationing, come to Toronto! Either way, you’ll return home with memories of a unique and wonderful experience.

Hope to see you there!


Twist Phelan is a member of Crime Writers of Canada (CWC) known for her Finn Teller Corporate Spy mystery series, Pinnacle Peak mystery series, and her short stories, which have won numerous awards. She is one of the Toastmasters at Bouchercon 2017.

This piece first appeared in the June 2017 edition of the CWC members’ newsletter Crime Time, and appears here with the permission of CWC and the author. 

Issues re crossing the border…?

Do you have a criminal conviction in your past?

Canada, like most countries, has laws excluding visitors with criminal convictions  in their past.
This would include things like:  theft, assault, manslaughter, dangerous driving, driving while under the influence of drugs or alcohol, or possession of or trafficking in drugs or other controlled substances — and more. Some are major and some minor.  Here are some links that can help you understand how you can still be admissible to Canada:

Macavity Awards shortlist announced

We are so honoured that TWO of our Guests of Honour are on the list for this prestigious award!  And over half of the shortlist will be attending @Bouchercon2017!!

Best Novel:

  • Megan Abbott: You Will Know Me (Little, Brown)  – coming to #Bcon2017 (Guest of Honour!)
  • Matt Coyle: Dark Fissures (Oceanview)   – coming to #Bcon2017
  • Noah Hawley: Before the Fall (UK, Hodder & Stoughton; US, Grand Central Publishing)
  • Mick Herron: Real Tigers (UK, John Murray; US, Soho)
  • Laura Lippman: Wilde Lake (Wm. Morrow)
  • Louise Penny: A Great Reckoning (Minotaur)  – coming to #Bcon2017 (Guest of Honour!)

Best First Novel:

  • Fiona Barton: The Widow (UK, Bantam; US, NAL)
  • Flynn Berry: Under the Harrow (Penguin)
  • Bill Beverly: Dodgers (No Exit Press)  – coming to #Bcon2017
  • Joe Ide: IQ (Mulholland Books)   – coming to #Bcon2017
  • Renee Patrick: Design for Dying (Forge)

Best Short Story:

  • Lawrence Block: “Autumn at the Automat” (In Sunlight or in Shadow, Pegasus Books)   – coming to #Bcon2017
  • Craig Faustus Buck: “Blank Shot” (Black Coffee, Darkhouse Books)  – coming to #Bcon2017
  • Greg Herren: “Survivor’s Guilt” (Blood on the Bayou: Bouchercon Anthology 2016, Down & Out Books)  – coming to #Bcon2017
  • Paul D. Marks: “Ghosts of Bunker Hill” (Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine, Dec. 2016)
  • Joyce Carol Oates: “The Crawl Space” (Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine, Sept.-Oct. 2016)
  • Art Taylor: “Parallel Play” (Chesapeake Crimes: Storm Warning, Wildside Press)  – coming to #Bcon2017

Sue Feder Memorial Award for Best Historical Novel:

  • Susanna Calkins: A Death Along the River Fleet  (Minotaur)  – coming to #Bcon2017
  • Lyndsay Faye: Jane Steele  (UK: Headline Review; US, G.P. Putnam’s Sons)
  • Edith Maxwell: Delivering The Truth  (Midnight Ink)  – coming to #Bcon2017
  • Catriona McPherson: The Reek of Red Herrings (US: Minotaur; UK: Houghton Stodder)  – coming to #Bcon2017
  • Ann Parker: What Gold Buys (Poisoned Pen Press)  – coming to #Bcon2017
  • James W. Ziskin: Heart of Stone (Seventh Street Books)  – coming to #Bcon2017

Best Nonfiction:

  • Jane K. Cleland: Mastering Suspense, Structure, and Plot: How to Write Gripping Stories that Keep Readers on the Edge of Their Seats  (Writer’s Digest Books)  – coming to #Bcon2017
  • Ruth Franklin: Shirley Jackson: A Rather Haunted Life (Liveright Publishing)
  • Margaret Kinsman: Sara Paretsky: A Companion to the Mystery Fiction (McFarland)
  • David J. Skal: Something in the Blood: The Untold Story of Bram Stoker, the Man Who Wrote Dracula (Liveright Publishing)
  • Kate Summerscale: The Wicked Boy: The Mystery of a Victorian Child Murderer (Penguin)

Maureen Jennings answers: “What Bouchercon has meant to me…”

The very first Bouchercon I attended was in 1990 in London, England. I wasn’t writing at the time, although lurking in the background was probably the desire to do so. But I had heroes! And there they were: P.D.James; Colin Dexter; Michael Innes, among others. What a thri

Maureen Jennings and Cathy Ace

Maureen Jennings and Cathy Ace

ll to hear and see them chatting about the genre that I loved so much.

After that, I attended regularly. Not only was it an opportunity to visit different cities I might not necessarily visit, such as the glorious Pasadena, it was also the chance to mingle with other people –  both fans and writers – who loved to read the kind of books I loved to read.

Along the way, perhaps without quite realizing it, I was picking up tips about the writing process itself. All most helpful when I began my first novel.

I made friends that I have kept over the years. I met my first editor Ruth Cavin at the Nottingham Bouchercon and got launched as it were. We sat next to each at the banquet, fell into a great conversation (topic forgotten now). I mentioned I had sent along a manuscript to St. Martin’s Press. It was no doubt sitting in her slush pile. After this evening, I was a face attached to a name. She read the manuscript and made an offer. Except the Dying saw the light of day two years later.

Long may the lovers of this genre gather together.


Maureen Jennings is the author of the Murdoch Mysteries series, the Christine Morris books and the Tom Tyler books. She was shortlisted for the 2017 Arthur Ellis Award for Best Novel for her Tom Tyler book, Dead Ground In Between, just one of the awards for which her work has been shortlisted, and which it has won. Maureen was President of Crime Writers of Canada 2003-2004.

Sarah Byrne answers: “What Bouchercon has meant to me…”

I’ve been a fan of mysteries since the age of 10 when I stumbled upon a copy of Colin Watson‘s “Snobbery with Violence” misfiled in the children’s section of the Toowong Library, in Brisbane Australia, where I grew up. 

For a long time, I knew no one who really shared my enthusiasm.  In fact the first time I did find another person who really loved crime fiction I overreacted and got engaged to him. Luckily, before I made a really huge mistake, I found the wonderful – now sadly defunct – magazine Armchair Detective, realised that there was a whole international community of like-minded readers out there, and learned that I could actually get to meet them at this magical, miraculous event named Bouchercon.

I aspired to visit Bouchercon for years and years.  It seemed an unattainable Holy Grail.  How would I get there, and what would I do even if I made it?  I knew nobody; felt like I hadn’t read nearly enough to earn my stripes, and many of the authors listed had no distribution in Australia, so what could I say to them?  It seemed quite terrifying, but also potentially the best time I could ever have.  And so I yearned.

By 1998, I was finally earning enough to make my first ever overseas trip. 

Philadelphia is possibly not where most Australians dream of going for their first international holiday – but Bouchercon was there, so for me it was a no-brainer.  And it was glorious.  Everyone was friendly.  People would read my name tag, realise I was from Australia, and go out of their way to welcome me. Authors weren’t offended when I hadn’t read them, just pleased to meet a potential new fan.  When the bestselling authors’ panels were packed out, I could wander into another panel (generally wherever I heard the most laughter) and discover new and brilliant writers I wouldn’t otherwise have heard of. In the Dealers’ Room I bought a doormat with the imprint “Do You Have A Warrant?” –  which was hilarious up until the point the police knocked on my door about the burglary in the flat downstairs.

And then there was my favourite thing ever, the charity auction, and to this day I kick myself for not scraping up the US$110 it would have taken to win signed first editions of the first four novels from someone now very famous.

It was a few years before I could find the time and cash to make the pilgrimage again, but in 2005 I got myself to Chicago. And I’ve managed to attend again almost every year since, including Madison, Wisconsin, where I made no sense on a panel after 44 hours of travelling on five flights to get there. (Worse, on that last flight I was seated next to the Guest of Honour, hadn’t read a thing he’d written, and smelled and looked exactly as you would expect of a person who had spent 44 hours travelling in economy). And Alaska, where distance kept numbers low, but meant that I also got to meet several of my idols and have real conversations. (And where this year’s Co-Chairs and I serendipitously found a restaurant that was selling the 1998 vintage Grange Hermitage for less that I could have got it for at home.) 

So for the last 12 years, Bouchercon has been my respite and my oasis, and the thing I most look forward to every year. I’ve made wonderful friends, discovered brilliant writers, seen places I would not otherwise have thought to visit, and connected with the community that is closest to my heart.

To anyone wondering whether to take the plunge for the first time, stop wondering and DO IT.  Whether you’re a hermit or a hedonist, if you love mysteries, then you will find your bliss at Bouchercon.

Helen Nelson answers: “What Bouchercon has meant to me…”

When friends convinced me to come to the first organizing meeting for Bouchercon 2004 (in early 2004), I had never been to Bouchercon. In fact, although I wanted to help out, I wasn’t sure I would actually attend because it was going to be held on the Canadian Thanksgiving Weekend. And my husband and I had a long tradition spending that last long weekend of the year getting in one more camping trip before it gets seriously cold.

By the end of that first meeting, I had agreed to chair the Registration committee. A few weeks later we added other tasks to the Registration committee and I was joined in chairing the committee by Patricia Pedersen. One of the people we convinced to join our committee was Janet Costello. She, too, had never been to Bouchercon before.

Of course, by the time Bouchercon 2004 began I was there. I had taken on a wide range of tasks that really couldn’t be accomplished from a comfortable campsite in a Provincial Park. So, too, had Janet Costello, who had worked on the Registration committee and co-ordinated the charity auctions. Of course we didn’t really attend all that much of Bouchercon – we were so busy with the background tasks of making sure that everything happened. Even though we had independently bought T-Shirts that featured a picture of “The Silent Scream” with the words “Stop me before I volunteer again”, we were hooked.

What is the hook? 

It is hard to fully describe. But I’ll try. 

It’s the fact that Bouchercon is run entirely by volunteers who pour their hearts into making it happen every year. It is the fact that it has happened every year without fail for 47 years – soon to be 48. It is visiting new-to-us cities – and revisiting cities we think of as old friends. It is the same every year and different every year. It is the sense of community, of family. It is meeting new friends and visiting with old friends. It is the hugs of greeting and the tears of parting. It is mourning those who have died in the last year. It is celebrating the successes of new authors, and the veterans. It is reminiscent of a high school reunion except you like everyone! It is a joyous party for up to 2000 kindred spirits.

And so it was probably inevitable that we would want to do it again in Toronto!  In the almost 13 years since Bouchercon 2004, Janet and I have poured a lot of our energy into the Toronto Chapter of Sisters in Crime. Janet was newsletter editor for 7 years; I worked as co-editor for the first two of those, then spent 5 years as chapter president. And we’re still active there. And it didn’t hurt that people would constantly ask me “So when will we do Bouchercon here again?”

Co-Chairs Janet Costello and Helen Nelson

Co-Chairs Janet Costello and Helen Nelson

That feeling of wanting to give back has never left us. So in 2012 we made a successful bid to host Bouchercon 2017 in Toronto. Janet and I are the Co-Chairs.

We’ll be busy during Bouchercon this year.  No matter how well planned, there are always a host of last minute details and fixes and oversights and questions to be answered!  But the highlight is all of you!

See you all in October!