The Women Who Drove Me to Crime
Like many others who live a life devoted to crime, I have a secret.
Here it is: I never started out to be a crime writer. And no, I’m not referring to when I was a teacher, shoe salesman, bull cook, or a Chartered Accountant. I’m talking about when I first started out as a full time writer. You see, my very first manuscript was not a mystery. It was not based in Saskatoon. It did not feature a gay hero. It contained no travel. There was little in the way of humour. My first manuscript was none of the things that would later become hallmarks of my career—at least to date—as a writer.
On that first day—post-accountant—when I sat down at my computer and pondered what to write, I made a decision. I would write a great thriller. That decision resulted in my very first manuscript, with the title “On the Eighth Day”. It was also to become my first bottom shelf liner.
“On the Eighth Day” was complete and making the rounds of agents and publishers. What to do? Keep writing. But this time, I thought to myself, write for the love of it, write with joy and exuberance, write without care for attracting a publishing contract. And so, I turned to mystery.
For that I thank six women. Jill. Sabrina. Kelly. Kris. Tiffany. And Julie. Recognize them? No? They were Charlie’s Angels. The original TV version. I’m not exactly sure why I selected that particular show for this great experiment, but I did. When the show was on the air—at the time I was, oh, probably fifteen or so—I’d just been gifted with my very own hand-me-down tape recorder (recognize that?). I decided to tape each week’s episode. Then, in the privacy of my room, I would type out (yes, on a typewriter) the entire episode from opening to closing credits. Not only the dialogue, mind you, but the background scenery, the wardrobe, the look on the bad guys’ faces, the hairstyles as well. I’d take dramatic license with things like how things might smell, internal dialogue, and character motivation. And of course, I’d pay special attention to the crime. I loved the crime, and the solving of it. I have to give credit for this to one more woman: Agatha. Christie of course. By that point I’d read her for years. Who can forget The Man in the Brown Suit? And Then There Were None? Marvelous stuff.
From there I continued to love crime in all its formats, TV, Movie, and especially books. The clash of protagonist with antagonist. The satisfying resolutions. There was, and still is, something quite gratifying about it. And universal. As I grew older, and perhaps a bit more sophisticated in my analysis of such things, I also came to appreciate the genre for its ability and versatility as a vehicle to tell good stories in so many different ways, with so many different slants and angles and bents.
A crime story can be funny, it can be character-driven, it can be educational, it can make you cry, it can even be a thriller. I came to realize, thankfully very early in my career, that with crime, I could have it all. And so was born Russell Quant, the world’s first and only, world-travelling, wine-swilling, wise-cracking, gay, Canadian prairie private eye being written about today, anywhere by anyone. I dare you to dispute it. And in April 2012, with the release of Dos Equis: A Russell Quant Mystery, I am now the proud author of eight crime novels.
Anthony Bidulka’s mystery series tells the story of a world-travelling, wine-swilling, wise-cracking, gay, Canadian PI living a big life in a small city. Only parts are autobiographical. The Russell Quant series is a multi-award nominee including for the CWC Arthur Ellis Award, and was awarded the Lambda Literary Award for Best Men’s Mystery.
Twitter @abidulka: https://twitter.com/#!/abidulka