Canadian Guest of Honour: Louise Penny
Louise Penny didn’t begin her writing career until her mid-forties, when she set to work on her first crime novel, Still Life. Set in the Eastern Townships of Quebec, the series features Chief Inspector Armand Gamache, the head of Homicide for the Sûreté du Québec. Most of the books take place in the fictional village of Three Pines.
Since Still Life was published in 2005, the books have been translated into 27 languages and have hit the major bestseller lists, including the New York Times, the London Times and the Globe and Mail.
Her novels have won most of the major international awards, including the British Dagger, the Canadian Arthur Ellis, and the American Anthony, Barry, Dilys, Nero, and Macavity Awards. She’s won the coveted Agatha Award in the US five times. Her ninth Gamache book, How The Light Gets In, debuted at #1 on the New York Times Bestsellers list. Louise lives with her husband Michael and their golden retriever in the Eastern Townships, just south of Montreal.
American Guest of Honour: Megan Abbott
Megan Abbott is the Edgar Award-winning author of seven novels, including Dare Me, The End of Everything and The Fever (June 2014). Her writing has appeared in the New York Times, Salon, Best Mysteries of the Year, USA Noir and Los Angeles Times Magazine. She is also the author of The Street Was Mine, a study of hard-boiled fiction and film noir, and A Hell of a Woman, a female crime fiction anthology. She has been nominated for many awards, including the CWA Steel Dagger, the Macavity, Anthony, and Barry Awards, the Hammett Prize, and the LA Times Book Award. She lives in Queens, NY.
International Guest of Honour: Christopher Brookmyre
Christopher Brookmyre was born in Glasgow in 1968 and educated at the University of Glasgow, where he earned an MA (Hons) in English and Theatre. He worked as a sub-editor in London and Edinburgh prior to the publication of his first novel, Quite Ugly One Morning, which won the First Blood Award in 1996 for the best first crime novel of the year.
His Jack Parlabane series saw him become the first writer to win two Sherlock awards, and his 2006 novel All Fun And Games Until Somebody Loses An Eye won him the Bollinger Everyman Wodehouse Prize for Comic Writing.
In 2005 he was named the University of Glasgow’s Young Alumnus of the Year and in 2007 he won the Glenfiddich Spirit of Scotland Award for writing. As well as his Jack Parlabane series, he has enjoyed considerable acclaim for his Angelique de Xavia novels and, more recently, his Jasmine Sharp trilogy.
B’Con4Kids Guest of Honour: Chris Grabenstein
Chris Grabenstein is the author of the New York Times Bestseller Escape From Mr. Lemoncello’s Library and the co-author (with James Patterson) of the #1 Bestsellers I Funny and Treasure Hunters. He is an award-winning author of over twenty other books for children and adults, a playwright, screenwriter, and former advertising executive and improvisational comedian. Winner of two Anthony and three Agatha Awards, Chris wrote for Jim Henson’s Muppets and co-wrote the CBS-TV movie The Christmas Gift starring John Denver. Chris lives in New York City with his wife, three cats, and a rescue dog named Fred who starred on Broadway in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang.
Distinguished Contribution to the Genre: Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine
In the fall of 2016, Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine will reach a milestone anniversary: 75 years in continuous publication! The digest-sized monthly crime and mystery fiction magazine was launched under editor Frederic Dannay (of the Ellery Queen writing team) in Fall 1941 with this message to readers:
“This first issue is frankly experimental. Our belief that a large public exists which impatiently awaits such publication can only be confirmed by that public.”
Response to the magazine was enthusiastic and EQMM quickly established a place as the leading periodical in the genre—a place it has retained for three-quarters of a century. Recognizing the importance of EQMM and Dannay’s critical work, in 1983 the Mystery Writers of America christened its award for “writing teams and outstanding people in the mystery-publishing industry” as the Ellery Queen Award.
Under Dannay’s editorship, EQMM’s list of contributors became a veritable honour roll of crime and literary fiction’s great names, from Christie to Hammett to Faulkner. Under the magazine’s subsequent editors, many more luminaries—from Joyce Carol Oates and Stephen King to Ian Rankin, Val McDermid, Ruth Rendell, Charlaine Harris, and Peter Robinson—were added to the list.
But the story of EQMM does not turn simply on its star writers. As Dannay said at the outset: “We propose to give you stories by big-name writers, by lesser known writers, and by unknown writers. But no matter what their source, they will be superior stories.” To foster new talent, EQMM established its Department of First Stories in 1949; to date, more than 800 new writers have broken into print there. Following an earlier tradition of publishing translations (the first English translation of the great Argentine writer Jorge Luis Borges appeared in EQMM) the Passport to Crime department was created in 2003, with stories from around the world.
EQMM’s first issue, which featured a cover by famed book-designer George Salter, began with an editorial note extolling the variety to be found inside: “two realistic stories of the hardboiled school,” a “story of the modern English school,” stories of the “straightforward modern American school,” and a story fusing “humor . . . and murder.” Variety remains EQMM’s hallmark: something for every type of mystery fan, all intended for the general reader as well.
Twist Phelan is a Stanford graduate and former plaintiff’s trial lawyer and commodities trader. She wrote the critically-acclaimed legal-themed Pinnacle Peak mystery series (Poisoned Pen Press). Her short stories appear in MWA and “best of” anthologies and mystery magazines and have won or been nominated for the Thriller, Anthony, Ellis, and Derringer awards. Her latest novel is set in Santa Fe and features a corporate spy.
Gary Phillips was raised deep amid the concrete and weathered palms of South Central L.A., weaned on the images of Kirby and Steranko in comic books, and Hammett and Serling in prose.
Gary Phillips also draws on his experiences ranging from community organizer, running a non-profit started after the riots, state director of a shadowy political action committee to delivering dog cages for writing his tales of chicanery and malfeasance. He is Vice President of Content and Editorial for the Stark Raving Group – an e-book outfit specializing in pulp and crime novellas using its own app, Bookxy.
Fan Guest of Honour: Margaret Cannon
Margaret Cannon is a mystery book reviewer for the Globe and Mail.
John Buchan, First Baron Tweedsmuir, was born in Perth, Scotland in 1875. He had careers as a lawyer, a diplomat, a member of the British Parliament, a journalist, and a writer. We know him best as the author of a series of spy thrillers featuring Richard Hannay. His most notable novel was The Thirty-Nine Steps first published in 1915 and, in 1935 it was filmed as The 39 Steps by Alfred Hitchcock. In 1935 John Buchan was named Lord Tweedsmuir and appointed Governor General of Canada. In 1937 he founded Canada’s prestigious Governor General’s Literary Awards—awards that continue today. John Buchan died in office in 1940 and, after a state funeral in Ottawa, his ashes were returned to the United Kingdom.
Photo Credit: Yousuf Karsh / Library and Archives Canada / PA-165803