Join Leanne Dyck's exciting author journey. Leanne is writing picture books, a novel for young adults and short stories for you. Every Sunday evening, she shares book reviews or articles about writing or glimpses into the life of an author with dyslexia or one of those short stories. For a list of Leanne Dyck's published work please visit the publishing history page. Please help nurture this blog by visiting, commenting, subscribing and sharing.
Kay Stewart is the author of police
procedurals featuring RCMP Constable Danutia Dranchuk. Unholy Rites, written with husband Chris Bullock, is the third in
the series. Kay has also published short stories, personal essays, and writing
textbooks. She taught at the University of Alberta before moving to Vancouver
Island to devote her time to writing. She is active in the crime-writing
community, having served as National Vice President and President of Crime
Writers of Canada and co-chair of Bloody Words 2011.
Mysteries centred around specific crafts have a large and
devoted following. I’m not a craft-y person myself (being left-handed is my
excuse), but in researching Unholy Rites (TouchWood,
March 2013), my husband and co-author Chris Bullock and I found ourselves deep
in the mysteries of a craft called well dressing.
English, and after two books set on the West Coast, we wanted to give our main
characters, RCMP Constable Danutia Dranchuk and drama critic Arthur Fairweather,
an English adventure. We were fascinated by the Peak District area of
Derbyshire, with its rich mixture of pagan stone circles, “dark satanic mills”
from the Industrial Revolution, and the well dressing festivals held from May
to September in villages large and small.
So what is
well dressing, you ask. Originally, it was likely a pagan custom of bringing
flowers and garlands to the quixotic springs that bubble up and disappear in
this limestone landscape, in gratitude for the blessing of water. In late
Victorian times, these simple garlands became elaborated into the forms we see
today: large clay-covered panels depicting religious or secular scenes made
entirely from natural ingredients such as flower petals, cones, seeds, and
small stones. Hydrangea petals, with their wide range of hues, make spectacular
skies; sprigs of parsley make luxuriant borders. When finished, these panels
are erected adjacent to wells or other sources of water, blessed in a special
ceremony, and after a week or so of slow disintegration, removed.
these panels takes an immense amount of effort from a small group of people
over a short time. Under these conditions, it would be natural for tensions to
arise, conflicts to develop, tempers to flare. What could be a better setting for
a murder mystery?
Chris and I
observed well dressers at work in several different villages, talked to them
about their craft, and even tried our hands at decorating small slabs of clay
at a morning workshop offered by the petallers of Wormhill. This is often the
way children learn the craft, by creating their own small scenes under the
supervision of experienced adults. We came away with a heightened appreciation
of the painstaking work involved.
does this ancient custom play out in Unholy
Rites? Not simply, because as the title suggests, there’s more than one
rite involved, and characters are in conflict over whether these rites are holy
or unholy. Guess you’ll have to read the book to find out.
For more information about Kay and Chris' books, please clickhere and here *** Mark your calendar's...
MAKING CRIME PAY
Saturday, May 25
BC members of Crime Writers of Canada de-mystify the art and
craft of writing and selling crime fiction. Topics will include Getting from
Idea to Draft; Handling Common Problems in Plot, Character, and Style; and
Marketing Your Work. To
request a brief critique, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Register online at www.gvpl.ca or call your
local branch for more information. Registration begins April 2. ANational Crime Writing Month event.
9: 15 Doors open
9:30 Opening Remarks
9:45 Panel 1: Moving
from Idea to Draft (e.g., doing research, finding a voice, outlining vs.
blurting, developing a plot, creating characters) (50 minutes)
10:45 Panel 2: Handling Common Problems in Plot, Character,
and Style (e.g., too little tension, plot or characters too predictable or too
melodramatic, info-dumps, irrelevant details, wordiness) (50 minutes)
12:45-2:15 Lunch/Blue Pencil Café (Phyllis Smallman, Joan
Mystery Mini Chats
Saturday, May 25
Meet Canadian crime-writers and learn about their latest
books in this fast-paced, fun-filled event. Books available for purchase and
signing. Register online at www.gvpl.ca
or call your local branch for more information. Registration begins
April 2. Sponsored by the BC/Yukon chapter of Crime Writers of Canada,
TouchWood Editions, and GVPL (Greater Victoria Public Library).
2:30-3:30: Round 1
3:30-4:00: Coffee and tea, courtesy of TouchWood Editions