Janice MacDonald

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Janice Elva MacDonald (born 1959 in Banff, Alberta) is a Canadian writer of literary and mystery novels, textbooks, non-fiction, and stories for both adults and children. She is best known as the creator of a series of comic academic mystery novels featuring reluctant amateur sleuth Miranda "Randy" Craig, all of which are set in Edmonton, Alberta.[1] The latest of these, The Eye of the Beholder: A Randy Craig Mystery, released in October 2018 and a local #1 Bestseller,[2] sees Randy and her long-time boyfriend Steve Browning finally tying the knot, only to become entangled in a mystery tied to the Edmonton visual arts scene while on their honeymoon in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico.[3][4] Another Margaret: A Randy Craig Mystery, released in September 2015, followed Miranda to a reunion of her fellow graduate school students and resurrects a mystery involving a Canadian literary figure who has been long-believed dead; the novel incorporates all events from the long out-of-print 1994 book The Next Margaret as part of a much-expanded story.[5][6] The Roar of the Crowd: A Randy Craig Mystery was released on July 10, 2014, with a plot involving the Edmonton theatre scene, including the Freewill Shakespeare Festival and the Edmonton International Fringe Theatre Festival,[5][7] and it went on to be nominated for the David Award for Best Mystery Novel at the 2015 Deadly Ink Conference and featured as a recommended read in both the 2015 Edmonton Travel Guide and the 2015 Avenue Magazine Summer Reading Guide.[8][9][10] Condemned to Repeat: A Randy Craig Mystery, was published on June 15, 2013, and involves a series of deadly events connected to Alberta historic sites, including Rutherford House, Fort Edmonton Park, and the Ukrainian Cultural Heritage Village; it debuted in the top spot on the Edmonton Journal's bestseller list on June 21, 2013 and went on to be shortlisted for the Mary Scorer Award for Best Book by a Manitoba Publisher at the 2013 Manitoba Book Awards as well as the David Award for Best Mystery Novel at the 2014 Deadly Ink Conference.[11][12][13] Hang Down Your Head: A Randy Craig Mystery, was published in November 2011 and features "cameo" appearances by several real-life folk musicians, as well as a corpse discovered at the Edmonton Folk Music Festival.[14] The book was a hit in MacDonald's home city and spent more than six months on the Edmonton Journal's Top 10 list.[15][16] The book and its author were profiled on CBC Radio,[17] CityTV's Breakfast Television show,[18] in the Edmonton Journal,[19] and in the Edmonton Examiner.[20] A January 2012 cover story in Edmonton Woman Magazine[1] and a half-hour interview on the CKUA Radio Network's ArtBeat program,[21] looked more extensively at the entire mystery series.

MacDonald continued to expand her oeuvre beyond crime fiction in 2015-2017, contributing a literary short story to Avenue Magazine, another short story to AB Negative: An Anthology of Alberta Crime, and a piece of creative non-fiction to 40 Below Volume 2: Alberta's Winter Anthology. In April 2017, MacDonald released her first full-length book of non-fiction in 18 years, Confederation Drive. The book follows the author on a road trip across Canada to mark the 50-year anniversary of a similar trip she took with her late mother to attend Expo '67 in Montreal, as well as to mark Canada's 2017 sesquicentennial year.[22] The book became the #1 non-fiction title in Edmonton in its first week of release, making it MacDonald's fifth consecutive chart-topping book.[23]

While pursuing her own writing career, MacDonald has also served in a variety of leadership and mentorship roles for other writers from Alberta and across Canada.[24] She was a member of the executive board for the Writers’ Guild of Alberta (WGA) from 1989-1990 and President of the WordWorks Society of Alberta from 1996-1997. MacDonald’s longtime service with the Canadian Authors Association (CAA) at the provincial and national levels included a stint as President of the Alberta Branch from 1993-1996, during which time she co-chaired two national conferences and created/developed the Exporting Alberta Award, which is still awarded annually. At the national level, MacDonald served as the CAA’s National Vice President for Awards from 1995-1997 and as the CAA Fiction Award Manager from 1995-2005. She continues to mentor writers by teaching at workshops, conferences, Blue Pencil events with the WGA, and writing camps such as YouthWrite and its spin-off for adults, JustWrite.[24]


The Randy Craig Mysteries put a spin on the "ivory tower" academic mysteries by presenting a lead character who cannot seem to land a tenure-track position.[25] Instead, she changes jobs on the periphery of academe in each new adventure, managing to find trouble (and a body or two) wherever she goes.[17] The novels have been celebrated for their use of the city of Edmonton as a "star character."[26] Because each of the novels delves into a different aspect of university and cultural life, the series is frequently discussed in academic journals such as The Chronicle of Higher Education[27] and The Journal of the Canadian Society for Traditional Music.[25] MacDonald herself wrote her Master's thesis on detective fiction,[17] appeared as an on-air mystery expert for the Canadian television series "Booked"[28] and was, for many years, the regular crime fiction reviewer for the Edmonton Journal.[24]

Ms. MacDonald's earlier, non-mystery works include award-winning non-fiction and children's titles.[29] The best-known of these is a well-received chapter book for young readers, The Ghouls' Night Out.[30][31]

Personal life[edit]

Janice MacDonald was born in Canada's Banff National Park in 1959 but has spent most of her life in Edmonton, Alberta, where she lives and works with her husband and two grown daughters. MacDonald is a former lecturer in English literature and Communications at both the University of Alberta and Grant MacEwan College, and she has taught courses on writing and detective fiction at national and international conferences.[24] She is sometimes mistaken for another writer, Janice Macdonald (lower-case d), an American author of romance novels.[32]



  • The Eye of the Beholder: A Randy Craig Mystery (2018) Ravenstone Books/Turnstone Press
  • Another Margaret: A Randy Craig Mystery (2015) Ravenstone Books/Turnstone Press
  • The Roar of the Crowd: A Randy Craig Mystery (2014) Ravenstone Books/Turnstone Press
  • Condemned to Repeat: A Randy Craig Mystery (2013) Ravenstone Books/Turnstone Press
  • Hang Down Your Head: A Randy Craig Mystery (2011) Ravenstone Books/Turnstone Press
  • The Monitor: A Randy Craig Mystery (2003) Ravenstone Books/Turnstone Press
  • Sticks and Stones: A Randy Craig Mystery (2001) Ravenstone Books/Turnstone Press
  • The Next Margaret (1994) Mosaic Press

Children's Book[edit]

  • The Ghouls' Night Out (1998) Ronsdale Press


  • Confederation Drive (2017) Monto Books/Wufniks Press
  • True North: Canadian Essays for Composition (1999) Addison-Wesley
  • Canoeing Alberta (1985) Lone Pine Publishing
  • The Northwest Fort (1983) Lone Pine Publishing

Featured work in magazines[edit]

Featured work in anthologies[edit]

  • "The Cold War" in 40 Below Volume 2: Alberta's Winter Anthology (2015), ed. Jason Lee Norman, Wufniks Press
  • "The Workman's Friend" in AB Negative: An Anthology of Alberta Crime (2015), ed. Axel Howerton, Coffin Hop Press
  • "Getting Away with Murder" in Forms of Writing (2009), eds. Kay L. Stewart, Marian Allen & Shelley Galliah, Pearson-Prentice Hall
  • "Call Him Ishmael" in When Boomers Go Bad (2005), The Ladies Killing Circle, Ottawa
  • "Edmonton" in Formac Guide Alberta and the Rockies, Ken McGoogan, Brian Brennan & Terry Inigo-Jones, Lorimar, Toronto, four editions: 2001, 2006, 2008, 2010
  • "When? Why? What? Where? Answers to Questions Inevitably Asked" in The Spirit of Writing: Classic and Contemporary Essays Celebrating the Writing Life (2001), ed. Mark Waldman, Tarcher/Putnam
  • "Starting Over" in Wrestling with the Angel (2000), eds. Caterina Edwards & Kay Stewart, Red Deer Press
  • "Parody and Detective Fiction" in Theory and Practice of Classic Detective Fiction (1997), eds. Jerome H. Delamater & Ruth Prigozy, Greenwood Publishing


  1. ^ a b Chua, "Killer FICTIONista", "Edmonton Woman Magazine"
  2. ^ Climenhaga, "Eye of the Beholder, a mystery by Edmonton author Janice MacDonald, tops Audreys Edmonton fiction bestseller list", "Alberta Politics"
  3. ^ Clare, "Most Anticipated: Our 2018 Fall Fiction Preview", "The 49th Shelf"
  4. ^ Clare, "Eye of the Beholder", "The 49th Shelf"
  5. ^ a b CBC Radio Edmonton Sound Files, "Nola Keeler interviews Janice MacDonald", "Daybreak Alberta"
  6. ^ Armstrong, "Writers descending on city this month", "Winnipeg Free Press"
  7. ^ Edmonton Journal, "Literary Events", "Calendar"
  8. ^ Mystery Fanfare, "Deadly Ink David Award Nominees", "2015 David Award Nominees"
  9. ^ InfoEdmonton, "4 Great Books from Edmonton Authors", "2015 Edmonton Travel Guide"
  10. ^ Avenue Magazine, "Avenue's Summer Reading Guide", "2015 Summer Reading Guide"
  11. ^ Edmonton Journal, "Bestsellers", "Top 10 List"
  12. ^ Manitoba Writers' Guild, "2013 Manitoba Book Awards Shortlist Announced", "News Release Archived December 13, 2014, at the Wayback Machine."
  13. ^ Mystery Fanfare, "Deadly Ink David Award Nominations", "2014 David Award Nominees"
  14. ^ Graves, "Folk music, junior hockey … mysteries don’t get more Canadian than this", "Hamilton Spectator",
  15. ^ Edmonton Journal, "Bestsellers", "Top 10 List"
  16. ^ MacLachlan, "Booksellers optimistic heading in to holidays", "Quill and Quire"
  17. ^ a b c CBC Radio Edmonton Audio Files, "Christmas Book Show 2011", "Daybreak Alberta"
  18. ^ CityTV Video Files, "Janice MacDonald Interview", "Breakfast Television Edmonton",
  19. ^ Withey, "Murder at the Folk Fest? Only in fiction", "Edmonton Journal",
  20. ^ Robb, "Mystery, she wrote: Local author unveils her latest in a series of murder-mysteries set here in Edmonton", "Edmonton Examiner",
  21. ^ CKUA Radio Network Audio File, "February 19: ArtBeat Interviews Author Janice MacDonald"
  22. ^ St. Albert Gazette, "Across the country twice in 200 pages", "Confederation Drive story"
  23. ^ St. Alberta Politics, "Alberta authors Linda Phillips and Janice MacDonald top Audreys Books fiction and non-fiction bestsellers lists", "Local bestsellers for April 30 2017"
  24. ^ a b c d Skene-Melvin, David (1995). Investigating Women: Female Detectives by Canadian Writers. Toronto: Simon & Pierre. p. 35. ISBN 978-0-88924-269-2.
  25. ^ a b Journal of the Canadian Society for Traditional Music, "Book Review: Hang Down Your Head"
  26. ^ Hingston, " Those juicy flashes of home", "Edmonton Journal feature story"
  27. ^ The Chronicle of Higher Education, "Academic Novels for Real People", "Advice"
  28. ^ Booked TV, "Booked Experts", "Janice MacDonald"
  29. ^ Writer's Guild of Alberta, "Bibliography", "MacDonald, Janice"
  30. ^ McNaughton, "Review: The Ghouls' Night Out", "Quill and Quire"
  31. ^ Ito, "Books at Bedtime: The Ghouls' Night Out", "Paper Tigers"
  32. ^ Macdonald, "The Traveling Romance Writer", "janicemacdonald.com"

External links[edit]