CBC Picks Stockholm Syndrome as One of the Best Crime Novels of the Season, Free Unfeeling Doctor Audio Book, and Jewish Noir Nominated for Anthony Award


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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.
IMG_7485“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.
IMG_7497Zip 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.

CBC Next Chapter Stockholm Syndrome cropped Screenshot 2016-06-20 13.36.27 copy

Click to buy.

Click to buy.

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.

Code Blues EBOOK cover 2015 derringer kris storybundleNotorious POD SHOE front 5x8 brighter 2016-300TerminallyJUTOH ebook cover 2014
Italian Assassins cover POD front-FINAL with YI and skullyoga cover NEW octavia ganesha 6x9 with SKULLAlready 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!

Jewish noir cover

Who’s going to win an Anthony? Jewish Noir (we hope)!

E-book and print available. Audio coming soon!

Audio version new on Audible for only $6.95! Audio and eBook bundle on Gumroad for $8.99!

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.

Behind the Scenes: Kobo’s Going Going Gone Contest #9: The Leap

Part 1: The e-mailPart 2: The CallPart 3: The ReadingPart 4: The WaitingPart 5: The TextPart 6: The “GO” CallPart 7: The Writing & Invitation, Part 8: The Party.

Today is the final day of Kobo’s Going Gone Gone Contest. So, y’know, if you could use $5000 and a Kobo Aura H2O, go for it. I’ll provide one last clue and a secret code here and one gigantic one in my newsletter that goes out later today.

But first, the conclusion to my behind the scenes posts! Da-da-da DUM!

#theface photo 3-2

Aaaaaaa! #the face by Robyn, me & Nathan. I’m wearing Tangente‘s White Jersey Dress with Ombre Ribbon Straps

August 26th, 2014

Since I’d travelled from Eastern to Southern Ontario for Kobo’s End of Summer Party, I wanted to thank Kobo’s senior people personally for choosing me for their soon-to-launched-but-presently-top-secret promotion.

One of the other writers asked me why I was doing this. “What would you say to him, ‘Nice device’?” He thought I was going to rave about the Kobo Aura H2O, which would be understandable, but…

“I just wanted to say thank you for choosing me,” I said, which sounds kind of ridiculous when I couldn’t even explain that I had a classified deal. It’s like saying, “Look! I’m engaged to the invisible man! Isn’t he gorgeous?” and everyone’s like, “Where? Where?”

Robyn came by, and I mentioned that I’d like to meet some people.

“Oh, Taka?” she said, and introduced me to the CEO, Takahito Aiki. I thanked him, and he handled it very gracefully.

The President had been carted off for photos post-speech, but once the spotlight died down, I noticed Rob Sawyer, the science fiction author/networker extraordinaire, who was the life of the party at World Fantasy 2000. I said, “Rob, you know everyone. Can you introduce me to the President?”

“Sure. We’ll just have to find him.”

Michael Tamblyn cheerfully greeted Rob, who introduced me. I shook the President’s hand and told him I appreciated his speech about Kobo as a David vs. Goliath, and that it was amazing that they’d chosen to highlight a relatively unknown writer like me, a David surrounded by New York Times-bestselling Goliaths.

“I like the way you network,” said my new friend Diane, afterward. “Some people are very single-minded about it, but you have a nice, natural way of approaching people.”

“Aw, thanks,” I said. It’s only recently that I’ve realized that most people aren’t offended and may, in fact, be charmed when you approach them nicely. Mark Lefebvre recently posted on KWL that I’ve “never been shy about getting to know other industry folks…in a professional and friendly manner.” Speaking of networking, here’s your daily clue. Have you noticed my latest Facebook friend? If you don’t know her already, check her out using the code HOPEGONE. If you still have no clue, sign up for my newsletter and all will be revealed.

I looked across the pool. “Now I’d like to talk to the girl with the purple hair.”


Erika Szabo was on her phone, but I introduced myself anyway. She said, “I’m a YouTuber.” She did tech blogging before, but now she makes her living vlogging on old school video games, maybe looking at moving into dance (she does pole, yoga, and Parkour), with a backup in retail. She was a self-taught journalist for six years, but she wanted to do something different, y’know? She likes to try different things.

I can’t tell you how different that is from my family, which is more like: 1. Work on something safe until the day you drop dead. 2. Invest wisely. 3. Never spend money. So of course, I thought this was very cool. Then we took off to the CNE, which is only $6 after 5 p.m.!

Everything was enormous at the CNE.

My son Max loves the Williamstown Fair. This was a fair, too, but everything was bigger. Even the food signs looked a story tall, not just displaying but screaming EAT THIS! PLAY THIS! Come here! Do it now!

I was glad I hadn’t brought Max, because he would have tried to play every game, eat every food, and generally make himself dizzy and sick (but satisfied).

Me & Erika & butter Jabba

Me & Erika & butter Jabba

Me & Erika BEING butter Jabba. Taking the leap.

Me & Erika BEING butter Jabba.

One big thing was zip lining. I’ve done it in Costa Rica. I didn’t think it was that big a deal. It’s very safe, and you get to look at the wildlife. To be completely honest, my favourite part was when one of the zip line guys looked me up and down and said to Matt, “Is that your wife? Uh huh.” So when people were lip lining over the CNE, and Erika said, “That must cost $50,” I wasn’t too impressed.

But when we checked over the cost, and it was $20.

Twenty bucks.

What a way to cap off the night. and my whole experience, really, plunging into the unknown, fingers crossed for the best.

“We’re closing. You have nine minutes to buy your ticket,” they said.

“Okay. You in?” I asked Erika.

“I’m totally in.”

So we plunked down our money and lined up for about 45 minutes, but it went fast because we made a new friend, Laura, an ariel circus performer who was having her vacation at the CNE. Finishing off the night with zip lining. As one does.

I didn’t think too much about the actual zip lining until we started climbing the tower. Costa Rica wasn’t this high—just above the tree line—and the trees make it look less high. As it was, I was climbing and climbing flights of stairs, and my heart rate accelerated. I was trying not to think about that short story about a woman who’s climbing the stairs to a tower in the darkness, counting every step (600, 601…), but when she goes down, there are more steps than going up (602, 603…). Plus my feet hurt in my flats.


When I got to the top, a cheery Aussie/Kiwi guy checked my equipment, and I said, “How high are we?”

“About fourteen stories. Are you scared?” He thought it was a joke. He’d commented on how another girl was shaking.

“It seems like not that steep an incline,” I said, trying to look at it logically. It wasn’t like a 90 degree drop to the bottom. Maybe 30 degree drop to give you a ride, but you still ended up at another tower.

“It’s not.” It was probably baby steps for him.

The problem was, no trees, nothing to break your fall. Just lights. We were higher than the Ferris wheels. And stepping off into darkness.

I said, “I assume it’s safe. How many accidents have you had here?”


“Great. Could you just check my equipment?”

“That’s what I’m here for.” He said everything was fine. And I had realized myself, at nearly the last minute, that my shoes might fall off. For some reason, no one had thought to tape my flats on. I was not inclined to walk down 14 flights to get taped up and then climb up another 14 flights again, but thank goodness, someone had tape. They taped my flats so tight, they hurt, but I didn’t mind. I didn’t want to have to walk back to my apartment barefoot, plus bean someone on the head with my shoe.

The women ahead of us were so scared, they argued over how to count to three. They climbed down the stairs and sat on them instead of jumping off. And apparantly one of them spit or drooled as she took off. But they did it, screaming.


Excuse me, is that Jabba the Hutt again? We’ve got to do the Jabba! (Before the zip lining.)



Erika and I agreed to just go.

I have to admit, when I walked down four stairs that ended in darkness, I thought it was madness, sailing into the darkness in a ball gown. Was this how Cinderella ended up in the 21st century?

But I’d paid my twenty bucks. And if I’ve paid my money, I want my money’s worth.

“Ready?” Erika said.

I nodded.

We lifted our feet and—wheee!

For me, since the equipment felt secure, I felt serene, just flying along with the lights of the rides and the tents below me.

I felt fine, but I did hold on to the tower when I got off. The person had to ask me to take a step closer so that she could unhook me.

But I was glad I did it.

Every day is a risk.

Like Erika says, DO IT. Go for it. Take the leap.

KWL is in the house! With Jodi, Mark, me, Christina & Tara

KWL is in the house! With Jodi, Mark, me, Tara & Christina. Good luck!