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Donna Fletcher Crow

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Donna Fletcher Crow (US) is the author of forty-some books, mostly novels dealing with the history of British Christianity. She is the author of The Monastery Murders series; The Lord Danvers Victorian True-Crime series; The Elizabeth & Richard literary mysteries, GLASTONBURY,A Novel of the Holy Grail and more.

Fay Sampson

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Fay Sampson (UK) is a writer of adult and children's fiction and non-fiction, including A MALIGNANT HOUSE, #2 in the Susie Fewings series, a British Crime Club Pick.

Louise Penny and Peter Robinson at Wordfest

By Donna Fletcher Crow ~ October 21, 2010

The glorious conclusion to my month-long stay in Calgary was getting to attend Wordfest with my mystery writer friend Linda Kupacek, author of Deadly Dues.

Wordfest is an International Writers Festival aimed at bringing readers and writers together.  It has taken place annually for 15 years in its dual venues of Calgary and Banff during a week packed with interactive events, including readings, poetry, spoken word performances, musical cabarets, youth events and more.  I was truly impressed with the uniqueness of the event and believe it should be a big factor in helping Calgary win Canada's City of Culture award for which it is vying.

On Wednesday evening Linda and I attended an author's showcase in the Vertigo Theatre located at the foot of the Calgary Tower— of which I have still not been to the top.

Five authors spoke briefly and read from their works including French author Marc Levy, literary novelists Camilla Gibb and Jane Urquhart and two of my very favorite mystery writers:  Louise Penny and Peter Robinson.

I have been a great fan of Louise Penny's kind and insightful Inspector Gamache ever since a friend gave me The Cruelest Month for Christmas and, like all of Penny's fans, would love to visit her idyllic Montreal village of Three Pines where the villagers gather almost nightly to eat wonderful food in the bistro in front of a roaring fire.  Before reading from Bury Your Dead, her latest book, however, she explained that very little of this book is set in Three Pines.  "I wasn't very far into the series," she said, "before I realized that the village simply wouldn't sustain the death rate.

"I keep telling them to lock their doors," she continued.  "But they simply won't listen to me."

In introducing Peter Robinson the host said Robinson found himself a bit embarrassed promoting his latest book the cover of which reads:  Peter Robinson Bad Boy.  The host advised him to come out and drop-kick a few front row members of the audience before his reading as a way to boost his image.  But since Peter Robinson is widely known among mystery writers as being a really nice guy I'm not sure even that would have done it, even before we heard his lovely soft Yorkshire accent.

Since this year Anne Green, Wordfest founder, was retiring from her position as Festival Director a gala party with masses of scrumptious hors d oeuvres from the posh River Cafe accompanied the usual book signing afterwards.   My hostess Linda is a friend of Louise Penny so I was given a personal introduction to this most gracious lady who herself is as warm and inviting as her books.  Afterwards I mused on the idea that in creating her dried-up, sour, waspish poet Ruth Zardo, Louise Penny has created a character who is the exact opposite of herself.






And Peter Robinson proved equally delightful.  I had an extra bit of time to visit with him while Linda dashed back to the book store tables to buy his book.  He told me he lives part time in Eastern Canada and part time in Richmond in North Yorkshire, far north of the Leeds area where he grew up.  (Which made a perfect opening for me to mention that my book is set very near to Leeds.)     


Friday night we returned for "Dead On" the mystery event.  Again the international aspect of the festival was evident by Mexican-writer Martin Solares presence.  He told us how influenced he had been by Truman Capote, then read the first page of his novel in Spanish and his interpreter continued in English.

Gail Bowen, Calgary's Writer in Residence this year, and Chevy Stevens with her debut novel followed, before Peter Robinson returned to read a different selection from his Bad Boy.  Afterwards I told him I love his books, but can't keep up.  I'm about three books back on his list.

I assume Louise penny had gone on to San Francisco for the major mystery conference Bouchercon where The Brutal Telling won The Antony Award for best novel of the year.  I'm only about a third of the way through it, but I can tell the award is much deserved.

And just before leaving I caught a picture of Anne Green admiring the coat of one of Wordfest's artist guests.  It seemed a perfect conclusion to symbolize the vibrancy and creativity of this event.   

 And so I bid farewell to Canada— for this time.

Donna Fletcher Crow (US) is the author of forty-some books, mostly novels dealing with the history of British Christianity. She is the author of The Monastery Murders series; The Lord Danvers Victorian True-Crime series; The Elizabeth & Richard literary mysteries, GLASTONBURY,A Novel of the Holy Grail and more.

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Reader Comments:

Again, thank you, Linda for hosting me at the wonderful event which I would have missed without your invitation and organization.
The best of everything to my new friend!
-Donna, October 21, 2010

Sounds like a wonderful evening of words and writers!
-Evangeline, October 22, 2010

Sounds like a fantastic time! Any place that Louise Penny goes is bound to be good for book lovers. And the same is true for any place that Donna goes!
-jennymilch, October 23, 2010

Evangeline and Jenny, thank you so much for coming by and for your comments. Ah,Jenny,I'm smiling. Penny Louise is a great role model.
-donna, October 25, 2010

Time travel will be a stretch for me. The only time travel I’ve tried is in an unpublished short story on my web page And, yes, I love Crombie’s work.

-Judy Alter, March 29, 2014

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