This week on Mystery Mondays, I’m pleased to host author, Dave Butler. Dave lives a couple of hours from my home in British Columbia, Canada.
I’ve hosted authors from all over the world, and this is the closest one has been in distance. Kinda cool, I think.
And congratulations are in order. Full Curl was short listed for the 2015 Crime Writers of Canada Unhanged Arthur Ellis award for best unpublished crime fiction. Now Full Curl is published by Dundurn Press!
So over to Dave…
MYSTERY WRITERS PAYING IT FORWARD
By Dave Butler
Paying it forward: “beneficiary of a good deed repaying it to others instead of to the original benefactor.”
Coming to mystery writing from the world of business, I was ready for the worst. In the list of literary genres, mystery/thriller is second only to romance/erotica in sales (there’s a cross-over opportunity there, but I digress…), so I knew that the potential for fame and fortune was very high (😉). I expected that writers would jostle with each other in dog-consumes-dog, winner-take-all battles, that trade secrets would be held close to protective chests, that there’d be fisticuffs for the right to be noticed by a tiny pool of hungry agents and publishers, and that despairing writers would pounce on every opportunity to trip up competitors and then step over (or on) their cold corpses to get ahead.
And with many of us living lonely solitary lives, with long hours and little in the way of validation or gratification, I assumed that the potential was also high that I’d be interacting with people who were one rejection slip away from being basement-dwelling serial killers.
However, I was wrong. It has been a pleasant surprise to discover that it’s not like that at all (with the possible exception of the serial killer potential … that I’m still not sure about…). Instead, I’ve found writers, particularly in the mystery/thriller world, to be incredibly gracious, open and friendly, and welcoming to newcomers.
In my own situation, I was lucky to have Full Curl, my first novel, shortlisted for the Unhanged Arthur Award in 2015. I had no idea what to expect when I attended the Crime Writers of Canada’s Arthur Ellis awards banquet in Toronto. While I didn’t win (way to go, Elle Wild!), I was immediately overwhelmed by how welcome I felt.
As an example, I shared dinner that evening with Ian Hamilton (author of the successful Ava Lee series). He was patient with my rookie questions, and kind in sharing experience and advice. In a Toronto bar later that evening, over a glass or two of Forty Creek whisky, he asked me the pivotal question that then played a role in a multi-book deal for me. “Why don’t you write a series?” he asked.
That same pattern has been repeated many times. I see it when I share a coffee with other mystery writers, when I read communications from the Crime Writers of Canada, and when I attend workshops and conferences. It’s almost as though “paying it forward” has become what we do in our genre.
One could argue that holding everything close to our chests might mean that we can grab more of the pie for ourselves. But I’ve realized that growing the genre, both in readers and writers, is good for all.
It’s clear that deciding to “pay it forward,” or not, is very much an individual decision. Perhaps it’s a moral and ethical responsibility, but it depends on your own perspective and your own experience. And it doesn’t mean spending so much time helping others that you miss deadlines, or lose the muse. But by sharing information on the writing life, on the business of writing, we all move ahead.
For me, there’s no doubt that I’ll “pay it forward” to recognize the kindness and generosity of those who have helped me. But at the same time, if I meet a writer who invites me in to see his/her pile of rejection letters, I refuse to go in their basement!
Who is Dave Butler?
Dave Butler is a mystery/thriller writer from Cranbrook, BC who is the author of the Jenny Willson mystery series (Dundurn Press). Full Curl, the first in the series, in on store shelves now.
He’s a forester and biologist living in Cranbrook, British Columbia, in the shadow of the Rocky Mountains. His writing and photography have appeared in numerous Canadian publications. He’s a Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal winner, and a Fellow of the Royal Canadian Geographical Society. When he’s not writing, Dave is professionally involved in sustainable tourism at local, national and international levels and he travels extensively. www.davebutlerwriting.com