I enjoyed Julia's post on Monday about crime writer Margery Allingham. Although I've heard of her, I admit that I haven't read any of her books – but I'll be rectifying that before too long, hopefully.
I do enjoy crime novels, and was happy to be commissioned by Scholastic Children's Books way back to write four Sealed Mysteries, which all had to be murder mysteries – plus a murder story in an anthology called 13 Murder Mysteries.
The Sealed Mysteries in particular took a lot of plotting and planning – probably as much as a villain might do if he was hoping to get away with the perfect murder. The stories were most definitely whodunnits and everything had to tie up, alibis and motives at the ready!
Last year I brought the books out as ebooks, giving them a new series name Little Tyke Murder Mysteries. My granddaughter, Megan (well a cartoon version of her) became my Little Tyke logo.
|My Little Tyke logo|
Over the last few months I've been re-writing my first adult crime novel for an American publisher called All Classic Books. It's entailed lots of editing and re-writing, not least in changing some of the vocabulary so the Americans can understand us Brits.
It's entitled Death Lay Waiting, and tells of a burglary that goes disastrously wrong, resulting in the kidnapping of two witnesses – a mother and her eight year old daughter,
The idea for the story was sparked by the sight of a derelict house that I drove past every time I attended a particular club meeting. I'm always fascinated by buildings and the more wrecked they are the more they seem to appeal.
Each time I drove past this particular tumbled-down old house with its boarded up windows and gaping roof, I felt as if I desperately needed to weave a story around it. Eventually I did, and it's the house my poor old protagonist and her daughter are held captive in.
Quite a few of my stories have incorporated ramshackle houses. In Disaster Bay, I featured a house teetering on the edge of a crumbling cliff.
Two different old houses inspired this story. The exterior and precarious location of the house were based on a house in the Isle of Wight; and the interior – the staircase in particular, was inspired by a very old and crumbly house that had something to do with Nelson's grandmother if I remember correctly which I camped near in Devon years ago. It had the most amazing staircase with a huge stained glass window halfway up that was six inches deep in cobwebs. Fantastic!
Oddly enough, I tend to destroy the old houses completely by the end of my stories – by a disasters of some sort. My Disaster Bay house does eventually slip away over the cliff; my Death Lay Waiting house goes up in flames; and it's just dawned on me that in A Tropical Affair – my heroine's humble tropical beach home gets smashed to smithereens too. I'm beginning to wonder if I have a destructive streak!
Do you have recurring themes that have a habit of sneaking into your stories?
If so, I wonder what it says about us? Maybe Margery Allingham's super sleuth Albert Campian could get to the bottom of this mystery....
If you would like to visit my website it's at: www.annevansbooks.co.uk
Out now: Become A Writer - A step by step guide
and Champagne Harvest