Mystery genre brings together writer's two loves
Canadian mystery novelist Barbara Fradkin was singing the praises of the library at the Friends of the Haliburton County Public Library Gala on Sunday, Oct. 27 at Pinestone Resort and Conference Centre in Haliburton.
The Montreal-born writer who is based in Ottawa became passionate about reading and writing at a young age. She remembers moving through towers of books in her childhood home in the 1950s. Her father, who was a philosophy professor at McGill would regularly come home with all kinds of books he bought. So many, he was often constructing new bookshelves to hold them all.
Her busy working mother would leave her at the library after school and on weekends, which is where Fradkin developed her love for libraries and the opportunities for discovery they present.
The retired physiologist and multiple award-winning author’s first work was published in 1995, but her writing started at age six.
“I was a very imaginative kid, who daydreamed at the back of the class and had imaginary friends and soon as I could spell I wrote those stories down,” she said.
Mystery writing is an ideal genre for her, considering her background and passion.
“I discovered it was a perfect marriage for me – crime fiction – between my love of psychology and my love of writing. Mysteries get a bit of a bad rap. Everybody reads them, but then they think this is a guilty pleasure of mine, but actually they are one of the oldest forms in one fashion or another of a moral tale. They are the fight between good and evil and the quest for justice. I think that’s why they endure,” she said. She is best known for her novels featuring Inspector Green.
Libraries provide information that is important to the research of her novels. Although she appreciates what can be found online, including the first-person accounts on YouTube videos, she said online searches can be misleading.
“The reality is libraries have the richness and depth and breadth of material that we just don’t get on the internet easily without hunting and hunting, following link after link. And if you’re lucky you find what you need,” she said.
Fradkin’s most recent novel is Prisoners of Hope, which features 30-something international aid worker Amanda Doucette. She said the Doucette mystery series is set in iconic Canadian places and serves as “an homage to Canada.” It helps bring her readers to places in Canada they may have never heard of or where they have never visited.
Before Fradkin spoke, Friends of the HCPL president Elly Malcomson thanked her for attending the gala, which raises money for the local library system. She said “the Haliburton County Public Library contributes to our community and touches people’s lives in many ways. It is a bridge to technological innovation; a gateway to learning; a one-stop shop for entertainment; a centre of research; an economic stimulator; a key source for community information; a welcoming place for people of all ages to gather.”
The Friends’ financial support is essential to the purchase of e-books, book club sets, award listed books and large type books, including funding technology such as laptops and iPads to enable the library to conduct group sessions to learn how to download.
The major aim of the Friends this year is to fund the purchases of e-books for the HCPL, she said.
The Friends are a support group, which advocates for all library branches in Haliburton County. It helps to raise funds to assist with developing library facilities and services.
Fradkin said she appreciated the invite to the gala and also thanked Master’s Book Store owner Kathy Stouffer for connecting her with the Friends of the HCPL.
“Book sellers and libraries are an author’s bread and butter. Without readers and bookstores and libraries, we’d be whistling in the dark or we’d be in our attic bemoaning our fate,” she said.