Mon, Dec 20, 2021
What does it mean to be “in good company”?
JK Rowling. Brenda Chapman. Ian Rankin. Michelle Obama. Kazuo Ishiguro. Stuart MacBride. Stephen Fry. Brenda Chapman. Marian Keyes. Val McDermid.
That’s Ottawa’s own Brenda Chapman and there aren’t any typos, either. Her name appears twice in this distinguished list of ten authors, this list being the top 10 audiobooks borrowed from UK public libraries in 2021.
In an interview with CBC Ottawa Morning’s Robyn Bresnahan, Chapman shares how it was a simple Google alert to her email that broke the news to her, followed a few days later by an email from a reporter at the UK-based newspaper, The Guardian, looking to interview her about her recent accomplishments. Once she received this request, and it started to settle in the type of company she was amongst, she said to her husband “I think this is something, to be on this list.” Well Brenda, you’re not wrong.
Chapman’s audiobook Cold Mourning was borrowed nearly as much as Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. The only Canadian to be featured on this list, Chapman shares that she isn’t quite sure why her books are so popular in the UK, and two of them at that. If I had to guess, with all the reservations and uncertainties around typical travel this time of year, folks are choosing to snuggle up early this holiday season and hunker down with some good books. Cold Mourning takes place a week before Christmas – a very timely and seasonal borrow. Add to the mix a female First Nations detective as the protagonist and Chapman has created a mystery genre first of its kind, relevant to the current social justice topics encircling Indigenous peoples.
Chapman was previously employed by the Federal Government’s Department of Justice in the communications field, working steadfastly on the Indigenous dossier, learning about residential schools, about murdered and missing Indigenous women, and all the associated traumas. Her idea for Kala Stonechild, the protagonist in her first instalment of the adult mystery series, was inspired by a combination of files on which she worked. In her interview with The Guardian, she shared that she wanted to “’create a damaged but heroic and intuitive Indigenous protagonist’” and used her knowledge to create the beginnings of the Stonechild and Rouleau series in Cold Mourning. Chapman then followed it up with Butterfly Kills, the second of seven novels in this series, which dives deeper into Stonechild’s backstory. With books one and two in the top 10 list, I wonder if we might see books three or four in the top 10 list for next year? Only time will tell.
In addition to her first adult mystery series, Chapman has also published two other series – the Anna Sweet mystery novellas and the Jennifer Bannon mystery series for middle grade readers. She has also published short stories and standalone novels. Her work has been shortlisted for numerous awards. Look for her newest novel, Blind Date, launching March 1, 2022. Chapman also belongs to the Crime Writers of Canada, for which she is concurrently the Ottawa/Eastern Ontario Director. OPL carries a variety of formats of a wide array of her work; check out the list of recommendations.
If you enjoy reading mysteries, check out the other list for recommendations of more local mystery authors you may have yet to discover.
Congratulations, Brenda, on your latest achievement! Rowling and Obama, MacBride and Keyes, Rankin and Ishiguro, Fry and McDermid, should all feel so fortunate to be in YOUR good company.