On Top of the World (at Writers at Woody Point)

View of Bonne Bay from The Lookout, high up above the Discovery Centre in Gros Morne National Park.

Just back and resettled after the fabulous whirlwind that is always the Writers at Woody Point literary festival.

Before sunset in neighbouring Trout River.

Before sunset in neighbouring Trout River.

Nestled on the shores of Bonne Bay, within Gros Morne National Park — a UNESCO World Heritage Site, no less — Woody Point is a charming village 360 days of the year. But for five days, every August, it turns into an absolute fulcrum for writers, readers, and musicians from across the country.

Photo credit: Angela Antle

Photo credit: Angela Antle

I’ve been twice-blessed with an invitation to read at WaWP, and this year I shared the bill with a roster that included Miriam Toews, Steven Galloway, Lawrence Hill, Elizabeth Hay, Bruce Cockburn, and John K. Samson — plus my own husband, the poet George Murray (!!) Most nerve-inducing for fan-girl me: I got to share the stage with Margaret Atwood. (Pictured here: the opening act.)

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Photo taken by the poet himself.

Events are hosted by Canada’s First Lady of Books, Shelagh Rogers, CBC’s Angela Antle, and this year, special guest Ron MacLean stepped up to the podium  to give an all-star intro to Toews and Murray. The Hockey Night in Canada host was so sold on poetry that he bought the merch — here he is later that night, wearing one of Murray’s DIVERSION t-shirts.

Photo credit: Tom Cochrane

Photo credit: Tom Cochrane

Taking a break from the Saturday night party with Montrealer Shane Murphy and his band, official event photographer Tom Cochrane strolled down the road from the Legion to snag this photo of the northern lights (so dazzling that you might not notice the Perseids were also putting on a show.)

Which seems like a pretty solid capper to a great week. Unless you’re me, and you get to wake up to this Tweet from Margaret Atwood the next day: IMG_0709

In that case, the northern lights just kinda can’t compete.

Home again, home again.

I got back Friday night from a whirlwind eleven days of media, bookstores, readings, and speaking engagements. Ontario, you sure know how to show a girl a good time! Highlights include this chat with Marci Ien on Canada AM; reading and conversation at Words Worth Books and The Bookshelf, two of my favourite Ontario indie booksellers; Toronto reading series Pivot at the Press Club and Rowers Pub Reading Series; a house reading in Hamilton at LitLive; a conversation with the fabulous Gill Deacon at CBC Here and Now; and my first book club visit with The Devil You Know — with Port Dover’s Red Hot Bookies!

As any parent knows, you can go away any time you like…. but you can never leave. I got home and hit the ground running here, driving my teenaged daughter to social engagements and my son to babysitting gigs. I’m lucky to have a family that is so supportive — and who kept the house so clean!

I spent my last night away speaking to a packed house at a fundraiser for Project Bookmark Canada — one of my favourite literary organizations, Bookmark is run by my friend, the writer Miranda Hill. We had a long conversation about The Devil You Know and then the audience Q&A moved to wider issues about women’s safety, fear, and sexual violence. Toward the end of the evening, I was asked how I think we can best move forward — especially after last fall’s high profile revelations about celebrity sexual violence (I’m talking about Jian Ghomeshi and Bill Cosby here) and campus sexual assault and harassment (at University of Virginia and Dalhousie University in Halifax, among others), as well as assault and coercion in the arts community (a great conversation was sparked by Emma Healey’s essay here in The Hairpin.) I’m not including all the links on purpose, because part of the issue is burnout. How do we take this information in, and move forward?

I don’t have all the answers. I’m a policy feminist, though — I think the answer lies in good legislation and specific policy changes. We need good laws that make it easier to help victims and easier to stop assault before it happens. Three days later, it’s International Women’s Day, and Kathleen Wynne’s Ontario Provincial Government has launched a fabulous new 3-year plan to curb sexual violence. The 35-page action plan is funded to the tune of 41-million dollars and places the focus on helping victims, raising awareness, and encouraging bystanders to intervene. It also comes with an advertising blitz — starting with this video, tagged #WhoWillYouHelp. Take a minute to give it a watch — because if you’re not helping her, you’re helping him.

Thanks, Kathleen Wynne! And Happy International Women’s Day, everyone.

Interested in booking me as a speaker for your group? Send me a note here. 

In which we begin again

ImageThis is a picture of my office door. It’s also largely how I managed to write The Devil You Know in a house I share with four children and a dog, while I was working a full-time job. Any other parents out there know what I’m talking about? It’s the pre-emptive answer to all possible questions and needs: Can you make me a sandwich? (No.) Can you drive me to mall? (No.) Can you help me find my other shoe? (No.)

Any two year-old has already learned  that NO is the most powerful word, but it somehow took me 37 years to re-learn that lesson — and use it to my advantage. (I share the house with my husband, too, of course, but he’s a brilliant and supportive guy, so the sign is not really aimed at him. Or, at least a whole lot less.)

The power of NO comes in using it to define your boundaries, give yourself guilt-free permission, and defend your own positive time (to the death! Okay, maybe that’s too much.To the pain?)

I’ve been thinking  a lot about this in the last week, partially because I noticed articles like this LinkedIn piece making the rounds. Learning to say No is a valuable skill. More salient was Jonathan Ball’s great post about scheduling writing time rather than just trying to “find it”.

IMG_0006All this came across my screen at the right time, when I’d been gearing up to start work on a new project. So the NO sign is back up on the office door today. (Full disclosure: I’ve been working solidly, on schedule, for a week or two now. So it’s time to let the rest of the household know.)

The only difference this time around? I’ve made a second sign, for the inside of the office door. It’s the sign that tells the writer YES.

Now it’s The Devil New York Knows

Thrilled to post a great review from this Sunday’s New York Times! Appearing alongside a small handful of new thrillers in Marilyn Stasio’s crime column. Stasio says this: “De Mariaffi delivers the requisite heart-in-mouth moments of pure paranoia, but she balances these thrills with shrewd character studies and the odd nugget of wisdom.”

I’m dying now. RIP Me.

Happy Friday everyone!

The Fabulous Reader’s Guide to Supporting a Book You Love (with props to Carrie Snyder)

Seems amazing, but today is already The Devil You Know‘s two-week anniversary. It’s been an overwhelming couple of weeks, but the loveliest kind of overwhelming. And by lovely, I mean actually full of love. Readers of all kinds have reached out with Twitter Love & Facebook Love, and reviewers have weighed in as well — with Book Blog love, and Weekend Book Section love, here in the National Post & here in the Globe.

That said, I remembered today that once upon a time, my good friend & author Carrie Anne Snyder posted the definitive Practical Guide to Supporting a Book. (Twice upon a time, in fact — once for her GG-nominated short story collection, The Juliet Stories, and once again for her Writer’s Trust nominated novel, Girl Runner.)

So, let’s say you also read The Devil You Know, and you liked it… hell, maybe you even have some love to share, too. Here — with props to Carrie Snyder — are the very best ways to share that love:

1. Review The Devil You Know online. Amazon, Indigo, Goodreads, Barnes & Noble, Kobo… these usual suspects are super heavyweight players. Positive reviews and ratings give a book WAY better visibility and allow it to move faster up the ranks.

2. Spread the word. Seems obvious, but the best thing you can do is tell your friends. Ask for The Devil You Know at your local bookstore. Throw the book up on your Pinterest, Instagram, or Tumblr. If you have a blog, write about it. A personal recommendation or request for a book is like gold.

3. Suggest The Devil You Know to your book club. I’m starting book club visits next month — so excited.

4. Follow me around. Like here on Twitter, or here on Facebook.

5. Buy the book… if you haven’t already. I hear it makes a great gift, too.

All this is true for any book you love, and any author will be thrilled to have your support. Want to see Carrie’s original post? <—- it’s right there. Without readers, what good is a book?

Thanks, Fabulous Reader. You’re a girl’s best friend ❤

The Devil and Shelagh Rogers

This interview on CBC’s amazing flagship book show, The Next Chapter, is actually the first long interview I did on The Devil You Know. We taped it back in December — on my birthday! — and it was old school radio, where I went into the studio and put on the headphones and everything. Shelagh Rogers is the most fun lady in CanLit, and she’s always a pleasure to talk to. Listen to the whole interview here.

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Under the Influence

I’m busy today, trying to drum up a column for the good folks at National Post Books — something about the wealth of influences that go into something as big and long-term as a novel, and how all those things filter down and through the story. While I have to pick and choose for the column, I thought I’d put a simple list in here. Things that were important to the building of The Devil You Know, all the bits and pieces of culture I can think of that I was reading, watching, remembering, or listening to on repeat while I was writing. I’ll try and add things on as I remember them. (Surprise! Gone Girl isn’t on the list… it’s still in my bedside pile.)

Bonus add: Because of the vagaries of search engine algorithms, some things just didn’t come to my attention until I was in the final editing and fact-checking stages. You can imagine how surprised I was to stumble across this retrospective article by Jim Rankin in the Toronto Star. Written for the fifteenth anniversary of the case, in the opening lines he describes  his experience as a new reporter, sitting in a car and watching the search of Bernardo’s house in St. Catherine’s — the exact scene I’d just written for Evie.

Helter Skelter, Vincent Bugliosi

Brain on Fire, Susannah Cahallan

The White Album, Joan Didion

Caught, Lisa Moore

“Fits”, from The Progress of Love, Alice Munro

The Killing Circle, Andrew Pyper

90s mood music by Nirvana, RHCP, & Sinead O’Connor, among others.

Audrey Hepburn in “Wait Until Dark”  (In this Hitchcock thriller, Hepburn plays a blind girl targeted by some bad guys. Her solution? Turn out the lights to even the playing field. You’ll have to watch it to see if it pays off… )

Jodie Foster in “Silence of the Lambs” (For the record, I didn’t re-watch this one; it’s the last really scary movie I’ve ever seen in a theatre, I think — but I did read over the detailed synopsis when I was trying to figure out how scary plot lines need to go.)

Emma Stone in “Easy A” (my daughter was keen on this movie at the time, and I loved Stone’s raspy voice and quirky-cool character)

And if you’re really up for some heavy reading, look for this judicial system Report on the Bernardo investigation, written by Mr. Justice Archie Campbell and available freely online. (This report was also something I came to late in the game, when I was trying to check my facts, but I ended up including a few extra things that jumped out at me and were too interesting to leave out. I haven’t read the whole report, as I was worried it would distract me… plus, I just don’t have the stomach for those details.)

“A brilliant debut novel”: Globe and Mail review of The Devil You Know

Front Panel_FA_Devil You KnowLast post for a Friday evening — what a whirlwind this day has been. Two great reviews and a short interview for you —  Stacey May Fowles starts off her new column in the Globe and Mail with this fantastic review of The Devil You Know. ICYMI earlier, here’s Sarah Weinman’s awesome National Post review. And a quickie interview I did with Mike Heffernan for Atlantic Books Today. Tomorrow, let’s all sleep in, okay?

Elisabeth de Mariaffi reveals The Devil You Know

A quick video we shot here in St. John’s for The Devil You Know‘s American publisher, Simon & Schuster. A walk-through on what it was like to grow up in Toronto in the 1980s and 90s, a time that was deeply coloured by crimes later attributed to Paul Bernardo; why women read true crime; and why talking about it is more relevant than ever. (Special thanks to my dream team in production: Latonia Hartery, Ian Vatcher, and Christopher Darlington.)