Sunday, June 19, 2011

A Horse, a Wolfe and a Runaway Wagon...

Today I am pleased to welcome guest blogger Therese Greenwood, author and editor of mysterious short stories, crime fest organizer extrordinaire, and I think she stole my grandpappy's old Palamino, Clive. 

Whenever I can, I like to work a runaway horse and wagon into a story. The first piece I published, in the anthology Over the Edge, edited by Peter Sellers and Robert J. Sawyer, was about a runaway horse and wagon. I’ve published a few more runaway wagons, maybe half a dozen — although once the horse was not running, more plodding, being an old mare. I slipped my favourite horse and wagon story into an anthology Mystery Ink, I edited with my pal Jake Doherty. Some day, I’ll have enough stories for a runaway horse and wagon anthology. I plan to call it "Tales of Whoa."


It’s easier to work in a horse and wagon when you write historical mysteries, which luckily I do. A horse and wagon does some things for your story, like give the readers a clue to the time period without sentences like, "It was the windiest day yet in this year of our Lord 1867, the match seller thought, as she pondered how the winds of change would blow now the Dominion of Canada had been confederated."


It lets you do fun things with character, too, creating relationships without having to add another suspect to the mystery, like a Christmas story I wrote about a movie cowboy who hates his Wonder Horse.


I like these stories because when I was kid on Wolfe Island, my grandfather had a doozy of a story about a runaway horse and wagon. It was THE last word in stories, let me tell you. The stakes were high (bystanders in danger), the action swift (fast horse, expensive wagon), the hero brave (Grandpa), the setting colourful (Wolfe Island).


Wolfe Island is a great setting for a story. It has all the basics: An insulated place where the limited suspects know each other, where a crime tears through the tight-knit community like a runaway wagon through the middle of town.


It’s a great setting for a crime writing festival, too, because it’s the birthplace of Canada’s first crime writer, Grant Allen. Allen churned out more than 40 books and was a great pal of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. In his book, Canadian Crime Fiction 1817-1996, my great pal David Skene-Melvin wrote a fine profile of Allen — "one of the cornerstones of the crime writing genre," David says. That’s why some friends and I founded a crime writing festival, Scene of the Crime, on the Island and we named an award in Allen’s honour, for pioneering Canadian crime fiction. This year’s Grant Allen Award winner is Maureen Jennings, who writes Canadian historical fiction, which pleases me immensely.


It’s a great festival. Mystery fans love it and they love the Island, too, so I am delighted to write about it in a guest blog for Jill Edmondson. But I couldn’t resist working in a runaway horse and wagon.


Therese Greenwood grew up on Wolfe Island, Ont., the largest of the Thousands Islands, where her family has lived since 1812. The region forms the backdrop for her historical crime fiction, twice short-listed for the Arthur Ellis Award. Therese is co-editor of two mystery anthologies, as well as the Sun Media Summer Mystery in newspapers across Canada.


Therese tweets about authors, writing and mystery happenings on Twitter at http://twitter.com/wolfeislander Follow @wolfeislander . Her story "Wrecked" — which, sadly, does not feature a horse and wagon — will appear in Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine in the spring of 2012.

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