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Allan Emerson's Blog


This summer, I'll be book signing as part of a consortium of 10 other crime writers at various Black Bond Bookstores in the lower mainland. We'll be gathering in groups of 4-6 at various locations. We've already appeared at the New Westminster store on July 9, and we'll be at the Maple Ridge store August 6, and the Surrey store August 13. See the posters below for details. Come hang out with your favourite local authors, chat, ask questions, and try your luck with our discount coupon jar--you could win a discount on any of our books!


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The Crime Time Trio is on the road again! I'll be appearing with Don Hauka and Cathy Ace at Chapters bookstores in Burnaby, Vancouver, and Coquitlam in April. We'll be at Metrotown April 8, Vancouver (the Broadway and Granville store) April 14, and in Coquitlam on April 16. Check the relevant poster below for details.

I'll be hauling out my faux wedding cake with the murder victims atop it (well, how else am I going to get attention for Death of a Bride and Groom?)

Here's a closer look at the unlucky pair. Don't worry, all is not exactly as it seems ;)

Cathy Ace, Don Hauka, and Allan Emerson (that's me on the right below) will be chatting about mysteries, and signing our books. If you get a chance, drop in and say hello. If you'd like a signed copy but can't make it on the day, the store will be happy to set aside a copy for us to sign for you.

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I'm doing a new reading at the New Westminster Library...

Our Prime Crime Trio is off again.

Cathy Ace, Don Hauka, and I are doing a reading at the Main branch of the New Westminster Public Library at 716 6th Avenue on February 20, 2016 at 2:00 p.m. That's just five days from today--yipes!

Our last reading went well, and I got a chance to practise reading part of my book in front of an audience. They didn't throw anything, so I figure it must have gone okay.

Oh, and on December 22, just in time for Christmas, Death of a Bride and Groom got a great review in Canadian Mystery Reviews, so that gave me a reason (not that one is ever needed) to help myself to a little extra Christmas fruit cake. (Yes, I'm the one who eats it. I know no one else likes it, but that's okay--more for me!)

Drop in to the Library on the 20th if you can and say hello. The event is free, the Library has our books in stock, and there'll be copies available for cash sales. We'll talk about books, writing, and answer questions from the audience. We'll all be dressed as our favorite Agatha Christie characters (naw--I made that up. Only the first four words of that last sentence are true :) ) Read More 
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I'm doing a reading at the Coquitlam Library...

A little update...

I've completed the bookstore signings mentioned below and am gearing up for my final event before Christmas. I'll be doing a reading, followed by a Q and A session at the Coquitlam Public Library, 575 Poirier Street, on December 3 at 7 pm with colleagues Cathy Ace and Don Hauka. It's a free event, so the library suggests pre-registering by calling (604) 937-4155. There'll be books available for cash sales.

I've only done one other reading before, and that was for our local community TV station. This one will be in front of a live audience...gulp... You'd think reading your own words would be pretty easy, but like many things, there's more to it than is apparent at first glance.

You have to remember to breathe in the right places, or risk sounding like you're being strangled when you get to the end of a longer sentence. And realize that a bit of performance is required while still seeming relaxed and natural. And to project your voice so people at the back of the room can hear you.

Since there'll be three of us reading, there won't be time to read a whole chapter, so I've had to try to find a scene that will make sense when pulled from its framework, and make the audience want to learn more about the characters. Fortunately, the book has some humorous scenes and I think I've found a section from chapter one that will amuse and--I hope--entice listeners to find out what happens next.

If you get time, drop in and say hello, and watch me try to sound like I know what I'm doing.


I'm doing signings at bookstores...Yep, it's true...I'm going to be signing copies of Death of a Bride and Groom at bookstores. Now there's a sentence I've never said until now.

This Saturday, October 24, I kick off what I'm calling my "Tour de Chapters." (Chapters, for those of you who aren't familiar with it, is a large, Canadian bookstore chain, sometimes referred to as Chapters/Indigo.)

I've inveigled a few other writers to join me, so at least I'll have someone to chat with if no one shows up. (I'm told that happens sometimes.) Have a look at the posters on the left--they'll tell you who'll be keeping me company and when and where we'll show up. The other writers--Cathy Ace, Debra Purdy Kong, and Don Hauka--are all wonderful writers with entertaining mysteries to their name, and well worth checking out if you aren't familiar with their work.

After we finish the last of the Chapters appearances, Cathy Ace, Don Hauka and I are booked to do readings, followed by discussion, at the Coquitlam Public Library on December 3 from 7-8:30 pm.

In the book, the murder victims are propped atop a giant, wedding cake parade float. I decided a bit of a display would be helpful in getting people in the bookstore to come over and chat, so I did an interpretation of the book cover theme. It's a bit hard to see in this photo, but the cake with its bride and groom echoes the book's cover shot (have a look at the book cover on the top left of this page), only on my cake, the bride and groom are still atop the cake.

Here's a closer look at the couple atop the cake. I might have overdone the bloodstains on the groom--looks like he's been the victim of an axe attack, rather than a gun shot. I bought the bride and groom figures on eBay and realized to my surprise that they are identical to the figures on the book cover. I'm guessing whoever did the cover got the figures from the same place I did. What are the odds this would happen?

If you're in the Greater Vancouver area I'd love to meet you at one of these events. Drop in and say hello, and let's talk about mysteries!  Read More 
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Author Sara Jayne Townsend visits...

Sara Jayne Townsend, author of the Shara Summers mysteries, is my guest today. She’ll be talking about her books, of course, but about other things as well. And naturally, there’s a giveaway! Leave a comment before midnight (PST) August 27 and win a digital copy (Kindle, Kobo, or Nook) of your choice of Death Scene or Dead Cool!

Sara lives and writes in London, England, but spent a large part of her formative years in Canada. In our interview, she talks about the adjustments she had to make each time she relocated, the words she hates to hear most, and her favorite saying. Oh, and don’t forget to extinguish all smoking materials before reading—you’ll see why later.  Read More 
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Children’s books reviewed (a completely unserious but emotional journey)…

Normally, doing a book review is no big problem for me. I can summarize the story, say what I liked or didn’t about it, and do it all in a couple of paragraphs.

Right now, though, I’m having a bit of a problem, even though it’s a children’s book I’m reviewing. Part of the problem is the book is written in French and the review is due (in French, naturally) for my French class tonight.  Read More 
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What’s in a name? Plenty, when we’re talking about books…

Writers are always searching for apt titles for what they write. A good title is a promise, a taste of what’s to come. As a reader, sometimes the title alone is enough to draw me to a book.

Whenever I browse the list of R.L. Stine’s books, The Cuckoo Clock of Doom makes me laugh and want to read the book, even though I’m not in the target audience’s age group. Read More 
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You read the book; did you see the movie?

I’ve seen lots of movies based on books I’ve read, and often was disappointed in the film version. Other times, I found the film version an excellent realization of the book.

A movie that falls into the latter category for me is Gone Girl. I thought the book was brilliant—an impressive show of technique with two alternating first-person points of view—and it had a story that kept me guessing right to the end. I thought the movie was equally good. Even though I knew the outcome, the script, acting, and direction were so compelling the picture held my interest from start to finish. Read More 
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Great Leaps Forward--the stuff you skip...

Clara twisted feverishly in her bed as she attempted to escape the voices that chanted her name. She was running down a long hallway with doors that appeared open, but through which she could never pass. Behind her the voices grew louder, more threatening. She tried to scream, but no sound emerged. She felt the surface beneath her giving way, and then she was falling, falling…

I made up the previous paragraph as a (bad) example of a dream description. Even if it were well done, I’d likely never read about what poor Clara was running from, since I always skip dream sequences when I’m reading. Read More 
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When fictional characters eat...

Sooner or later, even in the most fast-paced thriller, the characters have to stop and eat. Sometimes it’s a gourmet meal described in loving detail, other times it’s packaged convenience store stuff. I often think you can tell how much the writer enjoys food or cooking by the way the details are handled in these scenes.

Eating scenes don’t feature much in my mystery, Death of a Bride and Groom. My divorced sleuth is addicted to doughnuts, although he doesn’t realize that he’s substituting them for something else he misses. It isn’t until he meets his gorgeous new girlfriend that he loses interest in the deep-fried treats. She doesn’t cook, so he makes breakfast for her, although it’s pretty standard: bacon and eggs.

In Stieg Larsson’s The Girl Who Kicked the Hornets’ Nest, people don’t eat much better: mainly sandwiches and coffee. At least those sound more appetizing than Jane Eyre’s burnt porridge, or Oliver Twist’s gruel. Of course, for truly shocking fare, Shakespeare was the master. In Timon of Athens, Timon offers his false friends a dinner of stones in boiling water. It gets worse--in Titus Andronicus, Titus revenges himself on a perfidious queen by serving her sons up to her in a pie. (It's probably best to bring your own food if you're invited to a get-together in one of Shakespeare's plays.)

For more elevated dining, Ian Fleming’s James Bond was always discriminating in the food and drink line. We all know how particular he was about his martinis, and in Casino Royale he impresses a snooty headwaiter with his discerning choice of tournedos (small pieces of beef tenderloin) with sauce Béarnaise and artichoke hearts.

In Moby Dick, Herman Melville waxed ecstatic about clam chowder for most of a chapter. Here’s a small sample:

“Oh, sweet friends! hearken to me. It was made of small juicy clams, scarcely bigger than hazel nuts, mixed with pounded ship biscuit, and salted pork cut up into little flakes; the whole enriched with butter, and plentifully seasoned with pepper and salt. Our appetites being sharpened by the frosty voyage … and the chowder being surpassingly excellent, we despatched it with great expedition”

I’m a little doubtful about the “pounded ship biscuit,” but maybe it tasted better than it sounds. At any rate, there’s no doubt the characters enjoyed the chowder; later on, they order it for breakfast the next morning.

Excuse me for a minute, I’m just going to go get myself a little soup...and perhaps a doughnut or two. And didn’t I see some fresh raspberries in the fridge? Maybe a dollop of lime sherbet ….

What kind of meals do you remember from your favorite books? If you’re a writer, what meals have you treated your characters to?

I show up here every Tuesday and I hope you will too. And please hit the Comment button and let me know what you think about the topic of the day.  Read More 
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