Just went on my first police ride along last night. It was so exciting! The officer had a million stories - what more could I want? Almost caught some shoplifters, ate pizza, shooed away dumpster divers, responded to a false 911 call, and counseled (or tried to) a dysfunctional family with a troubled teen. Anyone else done a ridealong? Loved it? Hated it? Came home at 2am and promptly signed up for Crimespace - something I've been meaning to do for quite a while.

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I work at The Mystery Bookstore in Westwood. I'm pretty sure you signed there (although not on a day I worked). As to your warning on Canadian settings; please tell me more: What are the obstacles? Is it something publishers balk at? Or agents? Since you obviously know firsthand what the hurdles are, I'd really appreciate any insight you have about this. It's not something I was aware of.
We are going way off topic here, so might need to continue off line. You can write to me at vicki@vickidelany.com. It's readers who supposedly balk at reading non-US settings, thus the agents and publishers go along with it. In terms of non-US setting, it's been found that US readers like 'exotic' settings, but Canada doesn't fall under the realm of exotic. Things are changing, which is good. For example, Louise Penny and Giles Blunt have been hugely successful with thier novels set in Quebec and Northern Ontario, respectively. But off hand, I bet you can't think of anyone else. I find that the mystery fan is very open to reading anything regardless of setting if they like it. Look at the number of works now being published in translation from Swedish or something, unbelievable even five years ago. But it is the non-mystery fan who seems to be less accomodating.
I know several Canadian writers who have been told to change their setting to the U.S. in order to be published. An example is Mary Jane Maffini, who is very successful in Canada with her first two series, set in Canada, but when she was offered a contract for her cozy series by Berkley, she had to set it in the U.S.
I am published by Poisoned Pen Press who are very vocal about their disapproval of the state of the publishing industry, saying that it is a 'threat to cultural diversity" so perhaps they are more accomodating than some to my Canadian settings.
I don't know anything about U.S. writers who have set books in Canada, that might be a different kettle of fish. So please don't take my advice as gospel. Just something to think about. And yes, I was at the Mystery Bookstore. Sorry to have missed you.
Trevanian set his book, The Main in Montreal back in the '70's. It is off topic, but it might still be worth talking about. My novel Everybody Knows this is Nowhere, set in Toronto, is coming out in 2008 from Harcourt in the US and they didn't have a problem with the setting, but we'll have to see if it sells any copies. If it doesn't, I'd like to be able to blame the Canadian setting, but I doubt that'll have anything to do with it. I find this is something agents talk about a lot more than publishers, so the tough part may be getting it past agents (I don't have an agent).

Like you said, Louise Penny and Giles Blunt have done it, too, and Sandra Ruttan has two books coming out in 2008 set in BC,so maybe that's something that's changing.

Maybe more important than where the book is set is why are you setting it there?
As we've both said, things are changing. But I'm considering changing the setting in a new book I'm working on (not for Poisoned Pen Press) from Muskoka to the Finger Lakes. Which would be tricky as I know Muskoka extrememly well and the Finger Lakes hardly at all. But, in my opinion only, anyone with a Canadian setting who is trying for a big publisher contract is starting out with one strike against them. I would very much love to be proved wrong. Good luck with the book.
Thanks so much for the info Vicki. I thought an exotic setting would be a plus but alas - maybe Canada doesn't qualify as exotic? I know Ken Bruen does well with his Ireland setting and Xialong with his Shanghai mysteries. Then there's Mankell with Sweden as you mentioned but perhaps this is only the diehard mystery fan. The general public may not be so receptive. Perhaps I can break the mold as the U.S. writer who writes about Canada and turn this discouraging trend around! And I'll definitely take note of your email address for follow-up advice. I appreciate it.
Hi Sarah. I know you had a great time on the ride-a-long. Was it what you expected?

By the way, it was great seeing you again at Crime Bake.
Hi Lee! It was great seeing you too at Crime Bake. I hope to go again next year. The ride-along wasn't what I expected at all. The officer was much more talkative and frank than I thought he'd be which was great. For some reason, the MBPD wasn't too thrilled initially with my ride-along inquiry which surprised me. I thought it would be good PR and a way to strengthen community-police relations, etc. but it was like pulling teeth! So I wasn't exactly expecting an enthusiastic welcome. But once I showed up, I felt comfortable and relaxed. So kudos to MBPD.
I went on a ride-along once. Unfortunately, I was in handcuffs. It sorta dampened the fun of it.
Ha ha! Love it...was anticipating someone would go this route.
Hooray! Always glad to be the first smartass! ;)


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