The Crime Writers of Canada went loco, and asked me to emcee the Arthur Ellis Awards this year. Somehow they learned I might have done standup in the past. Or maybe not, because they even paid me. It may be more than my royalties this quarter.
I dug back into my Sleuthsayer files to decide what might appeal to a hardened (read soused) group of crime writers en mass, with an open bar. This is what resulted, and I’m happy to say the applause was generous. You may remember some of this.
Arts and Letters Club, Toronto, May 23, 2019, 9PM
Hello! Mike said I could do a few minutes of comedy this evening as long as I apologized in advance.
My name is Melodie Campbell, and it’s my pleasure to welcome here tonight crime writers, friends and family of crime writers, sponsors, agents, and any publishers still left out there.
Tonight is that special night when the crime writing community in Canada meets to do that one thing we look forward to all year: which is get together and bitch about the industry.
Many of you knew my late husband Dave. He was a great supporter of my writing, and of our crime community in general. But many times, he could be seen wandering through the house, shaking his head and muttering “Never Marry a crime writer.”
I’ve decided, here tonight, to list the reasons why.
Everybody knows they shouldn’t marry a crime writer. Mothers the world over have made that obvious: “For Gawd Sake, never marry a marauding barbarian, a sex pervert, or a crime writer.” (Or a politician, but that is my own personal bias. Ignore me.)
But for some reason, lots of innocent, unsuspecting people marry authors every year. Obviously, they don’t know about the “Zone.” (More obviously, they didn’t have the right mothers.)
Never mind: I’m here to help.
I think it pays to understand that crime writers aren’t normal humans: they write about people who don’t exist and things that never happened. Their brains work differently. They have different needs. And in some cases, they live on different planets (at least, my characters do, which is kind of the same thing.)
Thing is, authors are sensitive creatures. This can be attractive to some humans who think that they can ‘help’ poor writer-beings (in the way that one might rescue a stray dog.) True, we are easy to feed and grateful for attention. We respond well to praise. And we can be adorable. So there are many reasons you might wish to marry a crime writer, but here are 10 reasons why you shouldn’t:
1 Crime Writers are hoarders. Your house will be filled with books. And more books. It will be a shrine to books. The lost library of Alexandria will pale in comparison.
2 Crime Writers are addicts. We mainline coffee. We’ve also been known to drink other beverages in copious quantities, especially when together with other writers in places called ‘bars.’
3 Authors are weird. Crime Writers are particularly weird (as weird as horror writers.) You will hear all sorts of gruesome research details at the dinner table. When your parents are there. Maybe even with your parents in mind.
4 Crime Writers are deaf. We can’t hear you when we are in our offices, pounding away at keyboards. Even if you come in the room. Even if you yell in our ears.
5 Crime Writers are single-minded. We think that spending perfectly good vacation money to go to conferences like Bouchercon is a really good idea. Especially if there are other writers there with whom to drink beverages.
And here are some worse reasons why you shouldn’t marry a crime writer:
6 It may occasionally seem that we’d rather spend time with our characters than our family or friends.
7 We rarely sleep through the night. (It’s hard to sleep when you’re typing. Also, all that coffee...)
8 Our Google Search history is a thing of nightmares. (Don’t look. No really – don’t. And I’m not just talking about ways to avoid taxes… although if anyone knows a really fool-proof scheme, please email me.)
And the really bad reasons:
9 If we could have affairs with our beloved protagonists, we probably would. (No! Did I say that out loud?)
10 And lastly, We know at least twenty ways to kill you and not get caught.
RE that last one: If you are married to a crime writer, don’t worry over-much. Usually crime writers do not kill the hand that feeds them. Most likely, we are way too focused on figuring out ways to kill our agents, editors, and particularly, reviewers.
Finally, it seems appropriate to finish with the first joke I ever sold, way back in the 1990s:
Recent studies show that approximately 40% of writers are manic depressive. The rest of us just drink.
Melodie Campbell can be found with a bottle of Southern Comfort in the True North. You can follow her inane humour at www.melodiecampbell.com