Tour de Mort murder mystery authors Kay Stewart, left, and Chris Bullock will be in Parksville on Friday, Sept. 22 to discuss their book ahead of the Tour de Rock arrival in the area the following week. — Courtesy Kay Stewart

Tour de Rock murder mystery authors coming to Parksville

Victoria writing duo to discuss their Tour de Mort book, which gives some proceeds to cancer society

The Tour de Rock fundraising bike ride doesn’t just inspire people to ride, donate and cheer on its cyclists. It’s also inspired a work of fiction.

Authors Kay Stewart and Chris Bullock were inspired after they moved to Victoria and witnessed the impact the tour has as it arrives. The book that resulted ended up being one of four in the couple’s murder-mystery series.

Tour de Mort follows RCMP Cpl. Danutia Dranchuk as sinister accidents threaten the Tour de Rock.

The authors will be doing a talk called 1998 Tour de Rock: Fact into fiction in Parksville on Friday, Sept. 22 at the Forum at City Hall (100 Jensen Ave. East).

In an interview with The NEWS, Stewart and Bullock discussed the research they put into the book, how they were touched by the efforts of riders, and how they carefully wrote a murder mystery full of, well, murder, around a major cancer fundraiser.

“When we were working on the first two books, we were living outside Nanaimo in the Yellow Point area and the Tour de Rock hadn’t really made a huge impression on us, but then we moved to Victoria in 2008 and became aware of what an impact it has,” said Stewart.

“It just seemed like this was quite a significant event that I would like my character to be part of, and as it happens the timeline for the series and the time for the first Tour de Rock coincided quite nicely.”

In researching for the book, Stewart and Bullock spoke with various riders, as well as one of the tour’s founders, Martin Pepper, to get a better sense of what it’s like participating in the ride.

“It became clear that, even though the newspapers’ reports and so-on mention that riders always say that the physical challenges are one thing, but the emotional challenges are the other, it’s hard to really get a sense of that,” said Stewart. “That’s part of what we wanted to convey as well, just what the emotional experience of the tour is on a number of dimensions for the riders.”

“They often have a relative who’s died of cancer or they know somebody,” said Bullock of the riders. “So being on the tour is quite emotional for them, in that sort of way, and we hadn’t really fully realized that until we started talking to them.”

Despite the research, writing a murder mystery alongside a major fundraiser presented some challenges to the writers.

While their book would of course feature murder and investigation, they wanted to keep the ride itself running throughout the story.

They also strove to avoid embroiling the ride in too much of the negative aspects of the fictional goings-on, while creating enough suspense.

As such, the murder mystery itself happens parallel to the ride, while keeping both parallel plots linked, and having cancer as a focus.

Having published the book last year, Bullock and Stewart said they are happy to hold an event alongside the tour with the help of the Vancouver Island Regional Library, and to give 10 per cent of their proceeds to the Canadian Cancer Society to fight childhood cancer.

“We’re happy to do that,” said Stewart.

“You get quite moved when you’re involved with it, even the way we were involved with the tour,” said Bullock. “Because the tour is all about pediatric cancer, and junior riders. It’s quite moving to see the kids struggling with cancer and the kids inspired by the tour, you know. It’s very touching, actually. So we really wanted to play our part in some way in supporting that project.”

Bullock and Stewart’s book will be held Friday, Sept. 22 from 1:30 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. at the Forum at City Hall in Parksville.

Donations and partial book sale proceeds will go to the Tour de Rock.

For more on the pair’s work, go to www.kaystewart.ca.

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