Going Out

WHODUNIT – AND HOW? Crime writer Peggy Blair hits the big time with first novel

Competitive edge: After her novel was rejected by numerous agents, first-time novelist Peggy Blair got noticed (and found a publisher) after she changed tacks and submitted her thriller to several international literary competitions. Photography by Colin Rowe.

A stroke of good luck led Peggy Blair to a solid agent with great connections. In the wake of her successful first foray into the world of fiction, the mystery writer offers an insider’s look at the trials and tribulations of getting a first book published  By Mark Bourrie

Peggy Blair thought she had pretty thick skin. After three decades working high-stress jobs as a prosecutor, Aboriginal rights lawyer, and trainer for mediators in the post-war Balkans, she believed she could take her knocks. But she says nothing could have prepared her for the harsh — and sometimes downright nasty — world of book publishing.

In mid-life, Blair decided it might be fun to write a cop thriller. It should be a breeze, she thought. After all, she had read thousands of them over the years and knew how they were structured and crafted. She had even written a previous book, albeit non-fiction, that had been published by a prestigious press (Lament for a First Nation explored an Aboriginal fishing rights dispute in southern Ontario). And so she looked forward only with anticipation as she sat down at her computer in the spring of 2009 to craft her first novel. It turned out that writing the book was the easy part.

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