All About the Mesdames of Mayhem

I’m happy to welcome the Mesdames of Mayhem. Today, Madeleine Callway shares the history of this group and their new anthology, In the Key of 13.

Here’s Madeleine!

In 2012, my writer friends and I faced a new and challenging publishing world. What to do about social media? Some of us were comfortable with computers and software, others were pretty expert at digital marketing. Many of us though knew nothing at all.

My friend, publisher and author, Donna Carrick and I came up with an idea. Why not pool our strengths and share our skills with our friends? That’s how our two writing groups came together to form The Mesdames of Mayhem, because at the time, we were all women.

The way we came up with our name is lost in the mists of time, but what I do know is that we voted on it. We operate as an autonomous collective (thanks, Monty Python!) and vote on all important decisions, like the themes, book titles and covers of our anthology.

As a retired management consultant, I knew that to keep the Mesdames motivated and going as a group, we needed a goal. What better way than to give our readers a sampling of all our work? Readers could discover new favorites, especially since we all write mysteries ranging from comedy to cozy to noir.

Our first anthology featured 13 writers. Since our launch coincided with Halloween, it seemed logical to have a scary title. We called our book simply Thirteen. And indeed thirteen has become our lucky number!

Our anthology received two Arthur Ellis nominations for best short story. Thus encouraged, we published a second collection, 13 O’clock, with the theme of time and our third, 13 Claws, featuring animals: cats and dogs, of course, but also snakes, animal crackers and even a dragon!

Our stories have since been honoured with several Arthur Ellis nominations and in 2018, Catherine Astolfo’s story, “The Outlier”, won the Arthur Ellis Best Short Story award. Cathy’s story is truly one of the scariest I have ever read!

Donna and I often ask each other: what would we have thought seven years ago if we could have seen what the Mesdames have accomplished together? We’ve given numerous talks on Canadian crime fiction and the art of writing and met hundreds of new fans. More importantly, we’ve all been there for each other, through triumph and tragedies, illness and good health.

We now number 19 crime fiction authors, with members as far away as Fort McMurray. And we even have two Monsieurs.

Last year, at one of our library events, a young filmmaker approached us about doing a documentary. Her passion is supportive communities especially ones that are a little unusual. The filming proved to be an amazingly rewarding experience for us. Cat Mills’ film is due to be released on October 25th by the CBC and should be available for viewing on GEM.

In addition to GEM, the film may be available here:

CBC Short Docs Website | CBC Short Docs Facebook Page | YouTube


Our fourth anthology, In the Key of 13, has a theme of music, mischief and murder.

Music from Mozart to Beethoven to Elvis is a sweet accompaniment to sin in 19 wicked tales, ranging from cozy to noir, by 18 acclaimed Canadian crime writers and one talented newcomer.

Can you hear the violins? They may be plotting your demise. Are you an opera lover? Take care, your passion means a revenge served cold. And that tune that refuses to leave your mind? That brainworm will truly drive you mad.



Madeleine Callway (M. H. Callway) is one of the founders of The Mesdames of Mayhem. Her thriller, Windigo Fire, was short-listed for the Debut Dagger, the Unhanged Arthur and the Arthur Ellis for Best First Novel. Her short crime fiction has appeared in several anthologies and zines.

To learn more about the authors who belong to the Mesdames of Mayhem, please visit our website.

Mesdames of Mayhem Links

Website | Facebook | Twitter

M.H. Callway Links

Website | Facebook | Twitter


2 responses to “All About the Mesdames of Mayhem

  1. Pingback: MESDAMES ON THE MOVE, NOVEMBER 2019 | Mesdames of Mayhem

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