In Canadian book-publishing circles, Alma Lee’s name is synonymous with successful book-related events. This is because way back in 1988, she was one of the first out of the box with what has become a worldwide phenomenon: the literary festival.
Lee stepped down as creative director of British Columbia’s renowned Vancouver International Writers Festival in 2005, in part for health reasons. Since then, she’s had a liver transplant followed by a successful recovery. Where other people might take the opportunity to grab a deep breath, Lee has launched herself into yet another project that shows every sign of being world-class and widely recognized: CUFFED, the Vancouver International Crime Fiction Festival. The first CUFFED is scheduled to take place March 11-13, 2016, on Lee’s old stomping grounds, Vancouver’s Granville Island. “I know it seems far away,” Lee says about the dates, “but believe me, from starting something like this from scratch, I know how long it takes.”
And Lee and company aren’t messing around. Right out of the box they can claim a stellar venue, strong support from the publishing community, and a stable of participating writers that includes Linwood Barclay, Ian Rankin,
and Quintin Jardine.
Although some people will think the shift from running a literary festival to planning one focused on crime fiction is an intense about-face, Lee takes a different view. “The more I talk to people and friends about reading,” she explains, “the more I found out that people are really keen on crime fiction, so I don’t think we will have difficulty in finding an audience.”
Lee herself loves the genre and says she’s always been a strong supporter. “Many people think [crime fiction is] a ‘guilty pleasure.’ Not me,” she pronounces. “I am an eclectic reader, but crime fiction is a pleasure, not one I feel guilty about. I think some of the best writers are writing in the genre.”
Read more about CUFFED on its Web site. If you would like to support the festival’s birth, check out its crowd-funding campaign here.