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Plenty of witnesses to Women Killing It in Prince Edward County

New York Times best-selling author Susanna Kearsley addresses a sold-out house during the Murder at the Vicarage at Macaulay House. – Olivia Timm photo

By Olivia Timm
Mysteriously, female crime writers have been undervalued, according to Janet Kellough, host of the first – and sold-out – ‘Women Killing It’ Crime Writers Festival, in Picton, this weekend.

Kellough, popular Prince Edward County story teller and author of the Thaddeus Lewis mystery series, said the main goal of the festival was to spread more awareness while celebrating the work of some of Canada’s top women crime and mystery writers.

Authors Mary Jane Maffini, Elizabeth Duncan, Suzanna Kearsley and Melodie Campbell – Olivia Timm photo

Crime authors Elizabeth Duncan, Susanna Kearsley, Melodie Campbell and Mary Jane Maffini were highlighted at Saturday afternoon’s ‘Murder at the Vicarage Tea’ at the historic Macaulay House, but several other authors were present – including Murdoch Mysteries’ author Maureen Jennings, Nazneen Sheik, R.J. Harlick, Barbara Fradkin and Robin Timmerman.

Kellough touched on the gender gap that happens when it comes to women crime writers.

“Their work tends to not be taken as seriously as men’s, so their work gets reviewed less often, or reviewed less favourably. It is starting to change now because people realize there is a problem, but it has been a problem for a long time.”

During romance-mystery author Susanna Kearsley’s discussion, the New York Times best-selling author also spoke of the stuggles of writing crime-related novels.

“As a writer of romantic-mystery fiction, I have always had to deal with [judgement] on multiple levels – you write romantic stuff, you are a woman, you are Canadian, you are not literary, you are a mystery writer; and there are all these people that are willing to judge you on what you write.”

Kellough said she hopes the festival will be an inspiration to female writers and that they never stop fighting for the work they want to produce.

“I hope that a whole bunch of women out there take a look at things that are blocking them from doing what they want to do… and say ‘Let’s just do it ourselves.’”

Christine Renaud with Janet Kellough – Olivia Timm photo

Kellough had the organizational assistance of former Crime Writers of Canada president Vicki Delaney as co-organizer, along with Christine Renaud, Rob Kellough, Theresa Durning and sponsorship from Books & Co., Black Prince Winery and The Grange of Prince Edward Vineyards.

With much experience in event and concert production, Kellough was confident in her ability to run the festival and with the help of community members and sponsors, and said the weekend moved along brilliantly.

A full house gathered Friday night for ‘The Mysterious Affair’ in the Lipson Room at Books & Co. Participants met all nine of the celebrated authors in a riotous evening of “table hopping” where each author had five minutes to tell about their books.

‘The Body in the Library’ event Saturday morning at the Picton Branch Library saw Mary Jane Maffini lead a ‘So you want to write a mystery’ workshop for those who were just getting started, or who wanted to polish their manuscript.

Following Saturday’s sold out tea, was an evening ‘Appointment with Death (and dessert)’ where four authors who write on the darker side discussed murder, motives and MOs while participants dined on desserts.

As for the future of Canadian female crime writers, Kellough hopes to host more festivals like this one to keep discussion open. Men, she noted, were also welcomed at the event because all good stories cut across gender.


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  1. Janet, congratulations on a successful first ‘Women Killing It’ Crime Writers Festival.

  2. Christine Renaud says:

    Thanks Olivia and County Live! Nice coverage 🙂

  3. Thank you Olivia for the wonderful article! Many happy reportings with countylive!

  4. Theresa Durning says:

    It was a wonderful “first annual” event! Thank you for the great reporting and photographs, Oliva Timm!!

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