Author and performer Janet Kellough has launched a new writing festival to dually address what she perceives as a lack of attention and respect for women writers, and for authors writing in the crime and mystery genres.
Kellough says the barriers facing women writing crime and mystery are doubly evident. “Crime tends to be dismissed by a lot of people. And though some literary festivals will now have a mystery panel, they tend to try and get the people they’ve heard of,” Kellough says. “Because of the problems of women writers getting reviewed less often and not being taken as seriously, you get the same people – men – again and again.”
After considering the recent loss of genre-focused events like the Bloody Words conference and Scene of the Crime festival, as well as the popularity of crime fiction south of the border, Kellough conceived of the Women Killing It Crime Writers Festival, which will host a group of Canadian women crime writers in Prince Edward County from Sept. 1 to 2. Authors, including Maureen Jennings, Barbara Fradkin, and Susanna Kearsley, will be joined by local indie authors like Robin Timmerman for events ranging from a mystery-writing workshop to a round of author “speed-dating” to a Victorian tea at the historic Macaulay Heritage mansion and gardens.
“What we’re pitching here is, yes, it’s a literary event; yes, you’re going to hear about books; yes, you’re going to hear some of the authors read – but you’re also going to have fun,” Kellough says. “And we’re going to explain along the way what the different kinds of mystery are and help the audience zero in on finding authors that they might like to read.”
Kellough, who also has a background in concert and event production, says she’s happy with the community support Women Killing It has received thus far, with former Crime Writers of Canada president Vicki Delaney, local bookseller David Sweet of Books & Co., the Prince Edward County Public Library, and local wineries and food companies coming on board with sponsorship and organizational help. “It was a set of circumstances that just really came together nicely,” she says. “I think this is a unique conjunction of things going on here, so we’re going to give it a shot and see what happens.”