About Me

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Melfort, Saskatchewan, Canada
I am a lawyer in Melfort, Saskatchewan, Canada who enjoys reading, especially mysteries. Since 2000 I have been writing personal book reviews. This blog includes my reviews, information on and interviews with authors and descriptions of mystery bookstores I have visited. I strive to review all Saskatchewan mysteries. Other Canadian mysteries are listed under the Rest of Canada. As a lawyer I am always interested in legal mysteries. I have a separate page for legal mysteries. Occasionally my reviews of legal mysteries comment on the legal reality of the mystery. You can follow the progression of my favourite authors with up to 15 reviews. Each year I select my favourites in "Bill's Best of ----". As well as current reviews I am posting reviews from 2000 to 2011. Below my most recent couple of posts are the posts of Saskatchewan mysteries I have reviewed alphabetically by author. If you only want a sentence or two description of the book and my recommendation when deciding whether to read the book look at the bold portion of the review. If you would like to email me the link to my email is on the profile page.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Who is a Canadian Author?

In a comment on my last post concerning the pressure put on Canadian authors to set books in the United States TracyK said:

But if a Canadian author writes a good series not set in Canada, I can't ignore that (such as Alan Bradley). Does Peter Robinson count as a Canadian author?

To answer the question I started by looking up the submission criteria for the 2013 Arthur Ellis Awards sponsored by the Crime Writers of Canada. They state:

First publication (includes print, electronic/e-book, or self-published), whether in English or French, in the preceding year (2012) by a Canadian citizen regardless of place of residence, or by a writer, regardless of nationality, who has been granted Permanent Resident status in Canada.

Robinson was born in England and, after getting his B.A. in English Literature at Leeds University, he came to Canada in 1974 to study creative writing with Joyce Carol Oates at the University of Windsor. After earning an M.A. at Windsor and a Ph.D. at York University in Toronto he returned briefly to England. Not finding work he came back to Canada. He currently splits the year between Canada and England. I am not sure whether he is a Canadian citizen or has Permanent Resident status.

As Saskatchewan mysteries are at the core of my blog I looked up the Saskatchewan Book Awards for their criteria:

To be eligible for a Saskatchewan Book Award, authors must have resided in Saskatchewan for the twelve months immediately prior to the date of publication, or for four of the last five full calendar years.

Of the three most prominent Saskatchewan set mystery series two of the three authors, Gail Bowen and Anthony Bidulka, reside in Saskatchewan while the third, Nelson Brunanski lives in Victoria, British Columbia. (Nelson did grow up in Saskatchewan.) Of the trio only Gail and Anthony are eligible for the Saskatchewan Book Awards.

Personally, I have chosen to consider a Saskatchewan mystery any book set in Saskatchewan without regard to the residence or nationality of the author. That personal criteria means Prairie Hardball written by Toronto author, Alison Gordon, is a Saskatchewan mystery.

Perversely, I have set the standard for my page, Rest of Canada, to use the Arthur Ellis criteria for authors so that it does not matter whether their mysteries are set in Canada. While I prefer mysteries by Canadian authors to be set in Canada I decided I would include books set outside Canada on the principle authors retain their nationality no matter where they set their books.

I set up the sub-category of Rest of the World for those authors. Currently, Peter Robinson with a book in England and Linwood Barclay with books set in the United States fit within this group.

I consider setting your own arbitrary rules defining parts of your blog the right of a blogger.


  1. Bill, I read your post "Who is a Canadian Author?" and "Publisher Pressure to Put Mysteries in America" as well as the comments with keen interest. Indian authors settled abroad revolve their stories around both their country of adoption and their country of birth which is why they are known as "Canadian or American writer/author of Indian origin." They do a fine job on both counts. The other point is how can publishers put pressure on authors to set their mysteries in America (maybe, because it sells more) when not all authors, I'd assume, might be familiar with, or lived in, America in a way as to write about it with an original perspective? Do you then use your imagination and conjure up a plot and characters and plant them in America? How does it work then?

  2. Is it the fault of publishers or does an author such as Linwood Barclay simply make the decision to set his books in the U.S. so as to sell more copies?

  3. Bill - That is an interesting question: Who counts as Canadian? Thanks for clarifying which authors count as Canadian to you. You're absolutely right that each blogger can set her or his own rules for what counts as something; it's interesting to know what your parameters are.

  4. Prashant: Thanks for your thoughtful comment. I will ask Anthony Bidulka the next time I see him about the reasons given for pressure for an American setting.

    I agree with your comment that it is harder to write about a place in which you are not resident. With regard to Canadians it is probably less difficult to write about an American setting. We are inundated with American T.V., movies, music, magazines and books. Most Canadians have an extensive knowledge of America. Still I think your voice will not be as authentic as setting in a plcace you have lived.

  5. Margot: Thanks for the comment. I would be interested in knowing who you consider an American author.