A debut mystery set in Aylmer has jumped into the Top 25 of the iTunes book charts in the Mysteries and Thrillers category — outselling Stephen King and going head-to-head with authors like James Patterson, Louise Penny and Michael Connelly.
Kate Burns is a writer and designer working in the National Capital Region and living in Aylmer, Quebec.
Her fledgling novel, The Ophelia Trap, was released in January as an e-book, and a paperback in August.
But in late July, Ms Burns’ novel began outselling mystery authors from major publishers.
Ms. Burns said: “I really don’t know what to say, it’s all a bit bewildering.
“I opened iTunes and saw my novel right at the front. Within a week, it had hit #6 on the Mysteries and Thrillers charts, and remains in the Top Ten in Canada for Women Sleuths.”
“I was concentrating, ironically, on getting my paperback out properly, and only periodically checked on the e-book.”
The novel tells the story of a woman who drags home more than she bargained for after investigating the death of a young neighbour.
The setting is the small town that remains within the Aylmer city limits, and many of the landmarks and the dual French-English culture will be familiar to Ottawa area residents.
“There was no shortage of inspiration around town,” Ms. Burns says, “But it is a tale of fiction. I get questions every day regarding who my characters are, and did this type of thing really happen, but the truth is, once the keyboard meets the imagination, all sorts of strange things spark.”
Her main character, Julia Henry, could be the author. “But she takes more chances.”
However, the setting is all Aylmer and the places are real.
“People will absolutely recognize the National Capital Region, based on the book.
“I’ve been a reader all my life, and an avid ghost story teller at our camp, and when this story wanted to be told, I informed my husband a novel was in the works. God bless him, he didn’t raise an eyebrow. Now that’s support!”
The novel engages the reader in suspense, but also delves into some dark territory, such as rent fraud, sexual abuse and the fragile safety of women in modern society. The title itself, Ms. Burns says, refers to history’s ultimate victim. And The Ophelia Trap sets out to turn that narrative on its head.
“It is a mystery in the basic sense but there’s a message. A call to awareness, if you will.”
Ms. Burns is the latest convert in a new religion: Indie Publishing.
“I used Smashwords to publish and distribute, Wordclay for my paperback. I can’t say enough about how empowering the process has been.”
She says if a publisher called, she would have trouble making up her mind — a far cry from a year ago, when hope was her only connection to the published world.
As for e-books vs. paperbacks?
“A story is a story. Ask the kids at my bonfire.”
A follow-up mystery, as yet untitled, set in Ottawa’s intriguing and diverse Byward Market, is set for a spring release.
“Julia Henry is coming back. You can’t keep a good heroine down.”
For more details, please visit kateburnsauthor.wordpress.com