A Nose for Death

The Tri-City News, July 2013
For Port Moody author Glynis Whiting, the art of storytelling came easily for her first book.
As a writer, director and producer of documentary films for two decades, Whiting used her skills for structuring a narrative — with a strong start, middle and end, plus causal action and character arcs — to build her murder-mystery plot for A Nose for Death.

“It was actually quite a natural process for me to go in and write a novel,” said Whiting, who has a master’s degree in playwriting. Research is a key component to Whiting’s method. In 2005, she started digging around for A Nose for Death and exploring the characters.

“In making a documentary film, one of the things I love about that is you get to go and meet fascinating people all the time so it was just a shift in meeting fascinating people to making up interesting ones,” she said.
Her protagonist in A Nose for Death is Dr. Joan Parker, a chemist who has a keen sense of smell and has won awards for food flavour and aroma design. Parker is asked by her employer to take a break and, during the leave, she reluctantly heads up to her hometown of Madden, B.C. for a school reunion. There, she not only reunites with friends she hasn’t seen in years but also becomes a prime murder suspect in the sudden death of the graduation class’ rock star.

Whiting said she embarked on the genre of murder-mystery because “CanLit is my steak and potatoes and murder-mysteries are my dark chocolate. There are no calories in them.”

Murder-mystery readers, she contends, are people who like puzzles: the scripts require organizational techniques, are full of intrigue and are always followed with a resolution. It gives the reader a sense of accomplishment by coming full-circle.

Since it was published in April by Thistledown Press, Whiting has been busy promoting her book around Metro Vancouver and in her native Alberta (Athabasca, AB, is the town that is the physical map for Madden).
Locally, she has talked about her writing and done readings and book signings at PechaKucha Night, Volume 10, in Coquitlam and at ArtWalk in Port Moody as well as at book clubs. Next month, she returns to Alberta and will be in the Okanagan in October.

Whiting said she’s happy with the response. “I’m pleased that people are enjoying the humour. A lot of people seem to relate to Joan, at her age. And people are able to relate to the reunion theme,” she said.
As for her next novel, Whiting will stick with her Nosey Parker Mystery series, with the plot set on Pender Island and later at a distillery conference in Edinburgh, Scotland. Whiting anticipates to finish the final draft in the next year or so. — Janis Warren