I’m happy to welcome the Mesdames of Mayhem. Today, Madeleine Callway shares ten interesting facts about this intriguing group and their new anthology,
In the Spirit of 13.
1. We are 10 years old!
In 2013, Donna Carrick and I were enjoying our regular lunch together. We starting talking about social media and how to tackle this new beast. How could we best use – and understand – websites, FaceBook and Twitter?
From our business backgrounds, we knew that teaming up is the best way to handle a thorny problem. We decided to pool our resources and asked our two writing critique groups if they’d like to help. The answer was a resounding yes! And that’s how the Mesdames of Mayhem were born.
2. Thirteen is our lucky number!
The Mesdames write crime fiction in many different sub-genres and styles, ranging from comedy to cozies to thrillers to noir. How could we best showcase our work? We decided to create an anthology that did just that with a story from each of us.
Reading through the final version, we were once again struck by the variety of the stories. What would be the connecting theme? Was there indeed a connecting theme? Well, there were thirteen of us in the group and the number, thirteen, has a dark aura. Why not call our book simply, Thirteen?
Thirteen received warm reviews and award nominations. Ever since, we’ve used thirteen in the titles of our subsequent anthologies: 13 O’clock, 13 Claws, In the Key of 13 and most recently, In the Spirit of 13.
3. We are a national organization
Since 2013, we’ve almost doubled in size from 13 to 25 crime fiction authors who live and write across Canada, from Vancouver Island to eastern Ontario.
4. We have no age bias
It’s true that most of us are of a “certain age”, in other words over 50. Indeed crime fiction readers and writers tend to be an older demographic, but it’s wonderful that many younger people are interested in our genre.
The Mesdames firmly believe that age is just a number. In fact, our members range in age from their 30s to their late 80s!
5. We now include Messieurs of Mayhem
The first 13 Mesdames were all women and one of our goals was to promote and support the work for women crime writers. Most of us also belong to Sisters in Crime.
But did you know that Sisters in Crime also welcomes Brothers in Crime, men who support women writers? We now include three wonderful Messieurs of Mayhem for the same reason.
6. There’s a CBC documentary about us
Dig into our lives and you’ll unearth some strange and interesting facts about us. One author had dinner with dictator, Idi Amin; another grew up in a family linked to the Mafia. Yet another author grew up in South Africa during apartheid. And still another worked on the mysterious deaths at Sick Children’s Hospital and met Queen Elizabeth II – though not at the same time.
Readers can learn all this and more by watching the CBC documentary, The Mesdames of Mayhem, on GEM.
7. We love to help emerging writers
Several Mesdames have taught creative writing for many years at both the University of Toronto and/or at community colleges, like Sheridan, Loyalist and George Brown. We’ve also taught seniors in the community and given numerous talks and seminars through the public library.
We also sponsored contests for emerging writers for two of our anthologies: 13 O’clock and 13 Claws. It’s been wonderful to see the winners and runners-up go on to publish several more works.
8. We adore our cover artist
Sara Carrick, a gifted graphic designer, created the cover for our first anthology, Thirteen. She used a mysterious purple background and we loved it. Ever since then purple has become our signature colour.
Sara has continued to design the cover for every one of our anthologies. We especially love the spectacular image for our latest book, In the Spirit of 13.
9. We write more than crime fiction
Though all of the Mesdames and Messieurs are crime fiction writers, several of us also write literary, historical, fantasy and speculative fiction. Many of us are secret Trekkies. We also enjoy writing more cross genre works, crime fiction set in historical times or stories that bring in elements of fantasy or futuristic settings.
We let our imaginations go wild in our latest anthology, In the Spirit of 13, where each of us interpreted “spirit” differently. It could be ghost or demon or even just evil itself. Others of us took it to mean alcohol – or the prohibition thereof. Readers will discover that most of the stories are cross-genre with supernatural elements – or not.
10. We welcome the future and its challenges
Ten years ago when we first got together, most of us barely knew how to use FaceBook. In short order, we had the Mesdames of Mayhem up and running with our own website, FaceBook page and Twitter account.
Many of us now run our own author websites and social media accounts. We’ve ventured into podcasting, thanks to Dead to Writes, hosted by Donna Carrick. And because of COVID, we’ve become experts at launching books on Zoom.
We have no idea what the future will throw at us – and at our crime fiction genre, but together as the Mesdames and Messieurs of Mayhem, we’ll handle it!
Readers are very welcome to join us for our Zoom launch of In the Spirit of 13, Sunday, November 13th, 2 pm EST. Entry is free but please pre-register at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Ghosts and demons and booze, oh my!
To celebrate their 10th anniversary, the Mesdames and Messieurs of Mayhem have let their imaginations run wild to bring you their fifth anthology, In the Spirit of 13. Does “spirit’ mean ghost or demon – or debunking of same? Or simply the evil in twisted human hearts? Or could it be alcohol? You must read these 23 tales to find out!
The Mesdames and Messieurs of Mayhem are established award-winning authors as well as talented new writers. They aimed to keep their stories light-hearted to counter the world’s troubled times, but some of them have strayed into the dark. They are crime writers after all!
Laugh, shed a tear and prepare to be deliciously frightened.
Mesdames of Mayhem Links
Henry VanderSpek is the photographer of this signature photo. He was also the official photographer of the documentary, The Mesdames of Mayhem, by director Cat Mills and producer, Felicity Justrabo.