The Mesdames of Mayhem were delighted when the new national crime writers conference was announced. And we’re also delighted to speak to Mike Martin about the Maple Leaf Mystery Conference.

Mike is the author of the award-winning Sgt. Windflower mystery series. He is the Past Chair of the Board of the Crime Writers of Canada and a member of the Newfoundland Writers’ Guild, Ottawa Independent Writers and Capital Crime Writers.

The Mesdames: Congratulations! Tell us how MLMC came about.

Mike Martin: The Maple Leaf Mystery Conference has been a long time in the works. Ever since the untimely demise of Bloody Words, Canadian mystery authors, fans and readers have been longing for a Canadian mystery conference.

There was some momentum before the pandemic, but like all in-person events, that took a backstage to staying safe and healthy. Now, we’re back on track with this year’s Virtual conference and next year we are dreaming of an in-person conference. Fingers crossed.

The Mesdames: How did you decide on the name for the conference?

Mike: That was easy. We wanted it to be distinctly Canadian and what’s more Canadian than a maple leaf? MLMC is open to all readers and authors whether they love hard-boiled or cozy crime fiction. Our Author Panels reflect that as well.

The Mesdames: What would you love to see happen with MLMC?

Mike: Connect readers and writers. That’s the primary goal of any literary conference. Next, give readers a chance to ask their favourite author a question they’d always wondered about. And lastly, to build the audience for mystery and crime writing and whet the appetite for an in-person event.

The Mesdames: What are the big challenges with a virtual conference?

Mike: Finding ways to make a virtual event feel real for both authors and readers can be a challenge. Making it easy to register and participate on a Zoom conference platform is crucial. It may look the same on your screen, but behind the scenes, there’s lots of activity to make it all look simple. And we may lose some people who are Zoomed out or just don’t like the technology, who may have otherwise joined an in-person event. That’s always too bad.

The Mesdames: Writers First, the host of the conference, is breaking new ground for services to authors. Do tell us more.

Mike: For far too long, independent authors have been at the mercy of unscrupulous companies that promise them everything and deliver little but an expensive bill at the end of the process. We wanted to change that by offering services that are first-rate and affordable for emerging and existing authors who want to make their writing dreams become a reality.

Writers First offers a full range of services from industry professionals to help support independent writers. They include everything from manuscript evaluation to editing, publishing, distribution and marketing. All in one place. Our goal is to help writers create better books and to allow them to keep most of the profit from their labours.

The Mesdames: And please tell us about yourself and your award-winning Sgt. Windflower mystery series!

Mike: I was born in St. John’s, NL, but I live and work in Ottawa, Ontario. I set the Sgt. Windflower Mystery series in beautiful Grand Bank. There are now 12 books in this light mystery series with the publication of Dangerous Waters.

A Tangled Web was shortlisted in 2017 for the best light mystery of the year, and Darkest Before the Dawn won the 2019 Bony Blithe Light Mystery Award. I’ve also published Christmas in Newfoundland: Memories and Mysteries, a Sgt. Windflower Book of Christmas past and present.

Follow the Sgt Windflower Mysteries on Facebook.

The Mesdames: How can Canadian authors and fans help make the Maple Leaf Mystery Conference a terrific success?

Mike: Tell everybody about MLMC and encourage them to attend. Social media is a great place to do that. Please like the Writers First Facebook Page and our Instagram account. Then share all the great news that some of the members of Mesdames of Mayhem will be featured authors on Author Panels.

The Mesdames: Register for the Maple Leaf Mystery Conference here. And be sure to visit the Writers First website for full conference details here.

Instagram @writersfirst


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