First the most jaw-dropping news, to me. CBC Radio picked STOCKHOLM SYNDROME as one of their best crime books of the season.
Yup, for summer 2016, Dr. P.K. Rangachari, mystery novel enthusiast and professor in the faculty of medicine at McMaster University, told Shelagh Rogers, the mystery panel, The Next Chapter audience, and basically the planet that they should read my thriller about a hostage-taking on the obstetrics ward, where Dr. Hope Sze has to deliver a baby and get everyone out alive.
So why do I pair this news with a picture of me and Max in a helmet? Well, zip lining is not a bad metaphor for writing.
“What happened to you?” said a nurse last week, pointing at a purple and yellow bruise on my arm, just beneath my scrub sleeve.
I glanced at it and smiled fondly. “Oh. I went zip lining with my son’s grade four class.”
I’d gone zip lining before, in Costa Rica. Truthfully, my favourite part was climbing up the ladder and the guide saying to my husband, “Is this your wife?” and giving me an approving look. I also loved the toucan in the trees that had another guide yelling, “Toucan! Toucan!” and pointing, so that an oblivious tourist forgot to brake and crashed into the trees.
My least favourite part was that this was part of a possible horse riding/mountain hiking combination package, and another tourist complained, loudly, “I can’t believe they have horse manure! They should put up signs to warn us!”
That’s writing at first. Fun. Lots of adrenaline. Highs and lows. Can be expensive if you throw money into it. Surrounded by people who don’t want to do the work, crave easy success, and are utterly outraged they’re surrounded by feces.
Zip lining at Arbraska was harder. First of all, because safety regulations are so much stricter in Canada, we had to clip on carabiners all the time, even climbing up a ladder. There were fewer guides, since labour costs more and at least two schools had taken over the camp. And I was trying to keep an eye on a bunch of ten-year-olds, while not just pleasantly zipping from station to station, but also swinging on logs on chains, crossing rope bridges, crawling through tunnels, and so forth.
That’s what writing is like now. I’m conscious of how I’ve had to climb up one foot at a time. How, if I decided to take a leap, I have a whole family I’d potentially have to catch. But I’m also taking some risks and reaping some rewards.
I told you the big one: I’ve yearned for an interview with Shelagh Rogers ever since I was living in a windowless, TV, and Internet-free basement in my first year of Arts & Science at McMaster University. CBC Radio saved my brain. So, okay, I haven’t gotten an official interview yet. But my name has now appeared on her show, Melissa Yi (Canada) alongside Michael Robotham (Australia), Andrew Taylor (Britain), Sally Andrew (South Africa), L.S. Hilton (Britain), Steve Burrows (Canada), Naomi Hirahara (USA), Esmahan Aykol (Germany & Turkey), Belinda Bauer (England & South Africa), Sally Andrew (South Africa), Barbara Nadel (England), Dan Fesperman (USA), Craig Johnson (USA), Val MacDermid (Scotland), Adrian McKinty (Ireland).
I mention everyone’s countries because Shelagh asked if any of us were Canadian, and I was curious enough to look up the answer: only two of us. We are truly competing internationally, folks, when the CBC selects a few books as the best of 2016, and only 14 percent are homegrown. I’m not complaining, but nowadays, when you want to get noticed, you have to be the best in the world.
If you listen to the interview, STOCKHOLM SYNDROME is at 11:42.
So that’s me climbing to the eagle’s nest and zipping my way down, screaming in victory.
In celebration, all Hope e-books are now on sale. CODE BLUES is only $2.99 (50% off) and the other books are $3.99 (33% off) for a limited time only.
Already read the Hope books? Meet Octavia Ling, Ottawa public servant by day, who celebrates her birthday by trying out THE ITALIAN SCHOOL FOR ASSASSINS. When her roommate gets murdered, assassin school turns all too real. On sale for 99 cents (a whopping 84% off) for a super-short time!
Octavia’s adventures continue in THE GOA YOGA SCHOOL OF SLAYERS, which Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine reviewer Steve Steinbeck called “a lot of fun,” at the cut-throat price of $2.99 (50% off)! (My yoga killer short story, “Om,” was published in Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine, and I had to keep playing with the idea of yoga murderers. I love Octavia and her squeeze, Dario, and India is a fascinating country. As Shashi Tharoor points out, “Everything is recycled in India, even dreams.”)
Today only, use the code 50JUN at Kobo. You’ll get 50 percent off any or all of my books, on top of these prices, so you could pick up THE ITALIAN SCHOOL FOR ASSASSINS for less than 50 cents plus tax. Cheaper and healthier than a lead-filled dollar store necklace!
Other happy news: JEWISH NOIR was nominated for an Anthony Award, considered one of the most prestigious awards in mystery fiction!
And…THE MOST UNFEELING DOCTOR IN THE WORLD AND OTHER TRUE TALES FROM THE EMERGENCY ROOM is now available as an audio book on Audible, narrated by The Review editor Louise Sproule and edited by Jean Sarrazin of Vankleek.fm. I’m giving away a free copy to one of you lovelies, so hit me up online or offline!
I never pretend everything is fake-perfect, so I must assure you that I still see feces all the time, most recently in a toddler’s bathing suit, and of course in the ER or or the hospital wards. But I keep climbing, baby. I keep climbing.