May 18, 2009

And then there were none. The 2009 Saints and Sinners Festival, one of the best little book festivals in the world, is now officially over. I participated in a panel discussion on mystery writing on Saturday, read from Death In Key West on Sunday, then attended the knighting of Michael Thomas Ford as he was inducted into the S&S Hall of Fame. (After publishing 55 books, Mike received a "mid-career" award. There's optimism for you.)

The closing ceremonies were wet inside and out. The alcohol was freely flowing and I've never seen New Orleans so cool and rainy. It felt as if I'd never left Toronto. It was great to catch up with old friends like Jeff Mann, Jill Braden (aka Kathleen Bradeen), Lynn Krauss and Mike Ford, as well as new friends like fellow panelist Gary Zebrun.

As usual, I picked up some great story ideas. Two days ago I woke in the early morning hours to a noxious smell of burning chemicals and later learned a pier was on fire under suspicious circumstances in Bywater (a nearby neighbourhood to the Faubourg Marigny, where I always stay at the wonderful and welcoming Lions Inn on Chartres, if you want a solid gold recommendation for a New Orleans guesthouse.) The burning of the pier will probably become the opening scene of Bradford's fourth adventure, which takes place in NOLA. I don't have a title for it yet, but I'm toying with calling it Bon Ton Roulay, Cajun for "Let the good times roll."

Two days left before I head home.

May 15, 2009

Saints and Sinners is now offically in full swing. Today I took in four (4!) masterclasses with some experts in the field: Writers' Guild lawyer Michael Gross on writers' contracts, Michael Thomas Ford on the impossibility of being a full-time writer (and how he has being doing the impossible for 20 years), New York Times writer Benoit Denizet-Lewis with some highly personal insights on writing creative non-fiction, and Greg Herren on exploring sexuality in a fictional context. All entertaining, all rewarding sessions. And that's just day one.

May 14, 2009

Saints and Sinners Literary Festival, New Orleans

Although the event hasn't started yet, I'm dipping into New Orleans culture and hospitality. A bike ride (16 miles!) around the city reveals how much of the devastation from Hurricane Katrina still remains, but how different the city looks from two years ago when I was last here. Then, it was a disaster area, and the expressions on people's faces said they were running out of hope their city might ever recover. Today, nearly four years after Katrina, it's looking like a vibrant community again.

This morning, Shane and I went out for a celebratory beignet (if you don't know what that is, think the best deep fried doughnuts in the world, covered in icing sugar and served smokin'), courtesy of BC writer Geneva St James, aka Lynn Krauss, whose wonderful "Made For You" was recently nominated as one of the top five comic lesbian novels of 2008.

On the way to meet Lynn I saw Montreal writer Peter Dube sitting in a cafe and, later, at the Bourbon Orleans Hotel where the festival takes place, I spotted multi-award winning author Ellen Hart stepping out of a cab.

I've got a panel coming up Saturday and on Sunday I'll be reading from the new Bradford Fairfax adventure, "Death In Key West", (which I haven't seen in print yet!) In between, I'm going to try to hear as many writers and attend as many Master Classes as I can.

Say hello if you're here!


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