Showing posts from August, 2023

My Brainwave for a Great Mystery Novel... or Perhaps Not. By Griselda Heppel

Murder on the Orient Express by Agatha Christie I’ve had a brainwave. Why hasn't anyone thought of this before?  (Ah, turns out they have. See below. Never mind, I'm not stopping now.) So many stories – detective and mystery ones in particular – are set in a closed community that your characters can’t get away from. A train perhaps. Or a boat. (Agatha Christie’s Murder on the Orient Express and Death on the Nile .) An office block ( Die Hard , one of my favourite films) or a hotel on fire ( The Towering Inferno ).  The reasons for this are obvious: throw a bunch of different characters together in a tight cauldron, add some kind of disaster or threat, and BOOM, you have all the ingredients for a gripping, heart-in-mouth tale. Death on the Nile by Agatha Christie For children’s authors (including, cough, me) the enclosed setting is more likely to be a holiday camp, or a school – boarding, if possible, meaning that your beleaguered hero really is stuck with all the problems you’

Playing Hamlet (and Other Sayings) -- by Susan Price

Wikimedia, by Bhagerathe  I was peering into the backyard, trying to work out whether it was worth pegging washing on the line. It probably wasn't because, as I said to my friend, "It's getting very dark over Bill's mother's." The situation over Bill's mother's has been a concern all my life: usually, but not always, when there's a load of washing to be hung out. My mother mentioned the darkness over Bill's mother's at least once a week. She'd heard the phrase used by her mother and, for a while, it had puzzled her a great deal, because one of her older brothers was named Bill. So, surely, her mother was talking about herself? But she'd be nodding towards the dark clouds gathering over the hills, miles away. Who was this other Bill's mother and why was her mother keeping an eye on her? I don't suppose there's anyone in Britain who doesn't know that the phrase means, 'I think it's going to rain soon (because r

Who'd Be a 'Writer'? -- by Clare Weiner (AKA Mari Howard)

Are you a plotter or a pantser? This question is not infrequently found in online writers groups. Spike, the dictionary cat... It’s one I had never thought about until I joined the rather diverse community of a couple of online writing groups. One was pretty useful, the other maybe less so... There I soon learned how many of us humans decide at a really young age that, contrary to what used to be the memes about racing drivers, explorers, even sports stars or nurses, what captivates the imagination of the young child, sometimes even under the age of learning to read, is to be a writer! This particular career had never occurred to me: surely writers were elevated people such as Beatrix Potter, Arthur Ransome, the Brontë sisters, the slightly risqué Lynne Reid Banks, the more conventional Anne Tyler, and of course whoever it was who wrote Winnie the Pooh? Of course having a mind stuffed full of this and that diverse content and ideas, and having attended university rather than art school