When the competition becomes cutthroat

Hello, friends. I have some particularly lovely and extremely immodest news to share with you, this week: The Traitor in the Tunnel has been shortlisted for an Arthur Ellis Award! I’m especially excited because this is Traitor‘s first possible award. As some of you know, A Spy in the House was nominated for three awards and won the Canadian Children’s Book Centre’s inaugural John Spray Mystery Award in 2011. The Body at the Tower was shortlisted for Australia’s Inky Awards. And now it’s Traitor‘s turn! Mary Quinn is three for three! I can’t tell you how exhilarated I am.

The awards will be presented in May. Can you picture it? A gala evening in Toronto for, say, two hundred. Forty or so mystery authors, all vying for prizes. A winner is announced. A blood-curdling scream tears through the audience. The lights go out. Pure mayhem ensues. And, perhaps best of all, I now have the opportunity to make appalling jokes like this for the next six weeks.

In other news, my friend Vee sent me a link to a fascinating article about Victorian walking sticks. Yeah, yeah, walking sticks, I hear you mutter. You will have to read it for yourself and Be Amazed. I would link it here, but it contains some graphic descriptions that I don’t want to impose on those under 18. I will simply offer you my favourite paragraph:

Last Saturday, the Kimball H. Sterling Auction Gallery in Tennessee held a sale of more than two hundred vintage canes, including a great number of what collectors call “system canes.” One was designed for midwives and had a baby scale hidden within it; others concealed a picnic utensil set, opera glasses, an ear trumpet, a perfume bottle, a detachable baby rattle, a blow gun, a winemaker’s thermometer, a folding fan, a telescope, a flask with cork top, a pocket watch, a sewing kit, a compact and mirror, a full-length saw blade, a microscope, a pennywhistle, a set of watercolors and paintbrush, a whistle for hailing a cab, and gauges for measuring the height of a horse. (Wayne Curtis, “Pimp My Walk”, The Smart Set.)

My first thought on reading this was of Amelia Peabody, Elizabeth Peters’s Victorian/Edwardian Egyptologist and sleuth, who carries a specially made cane that conceals a sword, custom-made to her dainty proportions. Did Peters know, or is this a splendid coincidence? My second thought: how can I work one of those into a book? MU-hahahaha!

And that was my week. How was yours? What are you up to?

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6 Responses to “When the competition becomes cutthroat”

  1. MelodyJ says:

    Congrats! I hope you win. It would be fun if you could work at least some of that in a story.
    I heard that King Edward VII had walking sticks with a flask and cork hidden in it. I can’t even image all that other stuff being hidden in a cane. Now that I think of it a mini version of the those objects would work.

    For all these special canes to be developed it seemed they were not only for people with problems getting around. Since they walked so much I suppose a lot of people did need them for support no matter how fit they were. Did everybody walk around with canes on a daily basis?

  2. Congrats! That’s very exciting news! I hope that you win :)

  3. That’s amazing! I LOVED Traitor in the Tunnel so much! (I also loved the other two books) They are all totally deserving of the recognition and reward they are recieving! Congratulations and good luck with all of your future projects!

  4. Ying says:

    Thank you so much, Jennifer! Melody, thank you for being such a faithful blog reader! I look forward to your comments. I think walking canes were a fashion item, like hats are now. I’m sure they had their uses, but I don’t think most people needed them for physical support. And Fly to the Sky, thank you so very much for your kind words. You really made my day.

  5. Ying says:

    For Melody again: Wayne Curtis (who wrote the article on canes) likens them to Swiss Army knives: “something useful, easily carried, able to provoke small wonderment when shown off, and useful as weaponry in certain circumstances.” He also notes, “The most famous incident of violence involving a cane was no doubt the 1856 attack on Senator Charles Sumner on the floor of the United States Senate by Preston Brooks, a 37-year-old representative who pummeled the senator unconscious while simultaneously setting the gold standard for congressional incivility.” So yes, an able-bodied man carrying a cane either for fashion or villainy, or perhaps both.

  6. MelodyJ says:

    Thanks for the information. I do remember hearing about that incident in Congress.

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