Tag Archives: Crime

3 Things Agatha Christie Can Teach You About Writing

Agatha Christie

I will openly admit that I have been reading a horrendous amount of Agatha Christie of late (my own favorites being Evil under the Sun and Death on the Nile), and felt inspired to write a brief post about her career and what can be learned from it.

Agatha Christie was a master at her craft.  No one can deny it.  After all, she basically invented her style of close-house mysteries.  Her stories have generated several world renowned and much loved literary figures such as the immaculate Hercule Poirot and the indomitable Miss Marple.

Her output was predominately Mystery/Crime fiction, but she did release six romance books under a pen name – even she grew a little tired of her genre- as her name became more synonymous with crime.  I had better add successful playwright as well, I cannot forget The Mousetrap – the longest running play in the modern era.  It has not closed since it initially opened in 1952.

She had a writing career spanning more than fifty five years and never during that time did she ‘fall out of fashion’ with her readers.

What Agatha Christie can teach authors

Fellow writers can learn a lot from people like Agatha Christie, and I am going to give three of my ‘take aways’ from her for a successful writing career below.

  • Hating your Creation – It was no secret that Agatha Christie did not like her most famous character – Hercule Poirot – I think her words to describe him were “Insufferable” and “Egocentric creep”.  But she kept writing him because her fans loved him, and she did not let her writing or storylines suffer because of it.  She saw herself as an entertainer first, whose job was to produce what her reading public wanted – and they wanted more Poirot.  Write to Entertain.
  • Recycling plotlines – Agatha Christie did create the close house, all suspects (still alive) together at the reveal Crime/Mystery Genre.  Basically, a murder is committed, there are multiple suspects who are all concealing secrets, and the detective gradually uncovers these secrets over the course of the story, discovering the most shocking twists towards the end. At the end, in a Christie hallmark, the detective usually gathers the surviving suspects into one room, explains the course of their deductive reasoning, and reveals the guilty party.  Whether you are reading Poirot, Marple or Tommy and Tuppence, the general plotline above is used.  But this plotline is a very stable, well functioning framework, which, when dressed with a well woven, tightly scripted storyline makes for a good and entertaining read.  Write on a well founded Framework.
  • Characters – What made Agatha Christie’s stories stand out were her characters.  Agatha would take the characteristics and mannerisms from the people she saw around her (mainly from what she observed from strangers), and give them to characters in her books.  It made her characters more ‘real’ and would give the reader something that they can relate to.  Write your characters as real people.

Agatha Christie was a very successful and well loved writer.  She has over 70 books in print and even though she died in 1976, they are still selling well which is a testament to her skill as a writer and her storytelling.

NB: This article was originally published on Bookmarketingtools.com

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April Book Reads for Spring Weekends

Hello Everyone – I hope you are all doing well?

First, a short announcement – I have started a brand new season of the Hainathan cycle, with books one and two now available on Amazon.  Book one is free to those on my email list in the Explorer’s area.  It is set over a thousand years before the events in The Way to Freedom.

Here is my list of books to take a look at for April.  I tried to aim for a bit of a mixed bag and at least for this month, I’ve succeeded.  Finally, books that don’t have a shared ‘theme’ 🙂

Enjoy this month’s selection

-Hayley

NB:Genre’s will vary each month depending on what spine catches my eye in my library when I go to chose books….Also depends on my mood, the phase of the moon, and how much sugar and caffeine is in my blood stream 🙂

Just click on the book image to check them out on Amazon.

CRIME

The Cold Dish by Craig Johnson

Cold Dish

Introducing Wyoming’s Sheriff Walt Longmire in this riveting novel from the New York Times bestselling author of Hell Is Empty and As the Crow Flies, the first in the Longmire Mystery Series, the basis for LONGMIRE, the A&E original-and now NETFLIX drama series (Which I love! Funny how they get an Australian to play Longmire.  Hearing Robert Taylor with an American Accent was a little weird…)

 Fans of Ace Atkins, Nevada Barr and Robert B. Parker will love this outstanding first novel, in which New York Times bestselling author Craig Johnson introduces Sheriff Walt Longmire of Wyoming’s Absaroka County. Johnson draws on his deep attachment to the American West to produce a literary mystery of stunning authenticity, and full of memorable characters. After twenty-five years as sheriff of Absaroka County, Walt Longmire’s hopes of finishing out his tenure in peace are dashed when Cody Pritchard is found dead near the Northern Cheyenne Reservation. Two years earlier, Cody has been one of four high school boys given suspended sentences for raping a local Cheyenne girl. Somebody, it would seem, is seeking vengeance, and Longmire might be the only thing standing between the three remaining boys and a Sharps .45-70 rifle.

With lifelong friend Henry Standing Bear, Deputy Victoria Moretti, and a cast of characters both tragic and humorous enough to fill in the vast emptiness of the high plains, Walt Longmire attempts to see that revenge, a dish best served cold, is never served at all.

FANTASY

Battleaxe by Sara Douglass

Battleaxe

“Douglass has the breadth of vision necessary to create sweeping epics and the storyteller’s gift that makes readers love her.” – Locus the Axis trilogy Book 1.

A stunning epic fantasy in the tradition of David Eddings, Janny Wurts and Robert Jordan.

A thousand years ago the Acharites drove the Forbidden from their land. Now strange sightings along Achar’s northern border foreshadow their return. the barbaric tribes of the Ravensbund are pouring south with tales of fearsome beings who feed on the terror of their prey. Winter has come early, and with it the promise of war. Axis, bastard son of the dead Princess Rivkah, is sent to the battlefront of Gorkenfort with his elite Axe-Wielders. Once there, he must hand over command to his hated half-brother, Borneheld. But travelling north, Axis falls in love with Faraday – Borneheld’s bethrothed – and meets two priests who challenge the very essence of his beliefs. the Sentinels walk the land, the treeFriend has been found, and the people of the Plough, the Wing and the Horn must set aside their differences and unite under one leader against the evil rising in the North…

 

SCIENCE FICTION

Incandescence by Greg Egan

Incandescene

The long-awaited new novel from Greg Egan! Hugo Award-winning author Egan returns to the field with Incandescence, a new novel of hard SF.

The Amalgam spans nearly the entire galaxy, and is composed of innumerable beings from a wild variety of races, some human or near it, some entirely other. The one place that they cannot go is the bulge, the bright, hot center of the galaxy. There dwell the Aloof, who for millions of years have deflected any and all attempts to communicate with or visit them. So when Rakesh is offered an opportunity to travel within their sphere, in search of a lost race, he cannot turn it down.

Roi is a member of that lost race, which is not only lost to the Amalgam, but lost to itself. In their world, there is but toil, and history and science are luxuries that they can ill afford.

Rakesh’s journey will take him across millennia and light years. Roi’s will take her across vistas of learning and discovery just as vast.

Enjoy!

-HMC

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Bored? Cast your eye over these Gems!

Hello Everyone – I hope you are all doing well?

I know I’ve been a little tardy with my book selections and I really have no excuse…..so…..

Here is my list of books to take a look at for March.  I tried to aim for a bit of a mixed bag, but it did not turn out that way.  Two books have a historical bent to them….I’ve been on a bit of an Agatha Christie binge for the last two months, so you will see one make and appearance here.

Enjoy this month’s selection

-Hayley

NB:Genre’s will vary each month depending on what spine catches my eye in my library when I go to chose books….Also depends on my mood, the phase of the moon, and how much sugar and caffeine is in my blood stream 🙂

Just click on the book image to check them out on Amazon.

CRIME

The Mysterious Affair at Styles – Agatha Christie

Styles

“The Mysterious Affair at Styles” is a detective novel by Agatha Christie. It was written in the middle of World War I, in 1916, and first published by John Lane in the United States in October 1920 and in the United Kingdom by The Bodley Head (John Lane’s UK company) on 21 January 1921.

Styles was Christie’s first published novel, introducing Hercule Poirot, Inspector (later, Chief Inspector) Japp, and Arthur Hastings. Poirot, a Belgian refugee of the Great War, is settling in England near the home of Emily Cavendish, who helped him to his new life. His friend Hastings arrives as a guest at her home. When the woman is killed, Poirot uses his detective skills to solve the mystery. This is also the setting of Curtain, Poirot’s last case.

FANTASY

The Magician’s Guild – Trudi Canavan

Magician's guild

“We should expect this young woman to be more powerful than our average novice, possibly even more powerful than the average magician.”

This year, like every other, the magicians of Imardin gather to purge the city of undesirables. Cloaked in the protection of their sorcery, they move with no fear of the vagrants and miscreants who despise them and their work—until one enraged girl, barely more than a child, hurls a stone at the hated invaders . . . and effortlessly penetrates their magical shield.

What the Magicians’ Guild has long dreaded has finally come to pass. There is someone outside their ranks who possesses a raw power beyond imagining, an untrained mage who must be found and schooled before she destroys herself and her city with a force she cannot yet control.

 

HISTORICAL

Master and Commander – Patrick O’Brian

Master and Commander

This, the first in the splendid series of Jack Aubrey novels, establishes the friendship between Captain Aubrey, R.N., and Stephen Maturin, ship’s surgeon and intelligence agent, against a thrilling backdrop of the Napoleonic wars.

Details of a life aboard a man-of-war are faultlessly rendered: the conversational idiom of the officers in the ward room and the men on the lower deck, the food, the floggings, the mysteries of the wind and the rigging, and the roar of broadsides as the great ships close in battle.

Enjoy!

-HMC

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Things to Read….My Book Recommendations – Ta – Da!

Hello Everyone – I hope you are all doing well?

Here is my list of books to take a look at for October.  I tried to aim for a bit of a mixed bag, but it did not turn out that way.  Two books have dragons in them, one is fantasy with a touch of dragons and the last…well, Jack Irish could be considered a dragon in his own right. (If anyone has a chance to hear a talk by Peter Temple, grab it.  He is a brilliant public speaker.  I heard him talk at the Adelaide Writer’s Festival.)

Enjoy this month’s selection

-Hayley

NB:Genre’s will vary each month depending on what spine catches my eye in my library when I go to chose books….Also depends on my mood, the phase of the moon, and how much sugar and caffeine is in my blood stream 🙂

October’s Books – Just click on the book image to check them out on Amazon.

FANTASY

Magician by Raymond Feist – I have a signed copy of this book.  It is one of my favourites.

The world had changed even before I discovered the foreign ship wrecked on the shore below Crydee Castle, but it was the harbinger of the chaos and death that was coming to our door.

War had come to the Kingdom of the Isles, and in the years that followed it would scatter my friends across the world. I longed to train as a warrior and fight alongside our duke like my foster-brother, but when the time came, I was not offered that choice. My fate would be shaped by other forces.

My name is Pug. I was once an orphaned kitchen boy, with no family and no prospects, but I am destined to become a master magician…

Magician is the first book in Raymond E. Feist’s acclaimed Riftwar Saga. The trilogy continues with book two, Silverthorn.
CHILDREN


Green Smoke by Rosemary Manning – I have the 1957 first edition of this book.  I’ve loved it since I was a kid.

It was just under the cliff walk from Constantine Bay to Treyarnon, in a little secret cove, that Susan discovered something quite different from anything that she had ever seen before. Perhaps “something” is not quite the correct word, “someone” would be more polite. His name was R. Dragon, he was 1,500 years old, and he had a great partiality for almond buns.

He was a dragon with impeccable manners, who was far too polite to eat people, and avoided meeting them because he did not like to frighten them. He could also tell stories and Sue heard about the Cornish giants and faries, and of King Arthur whom he had known very well. He taught Sue songs and took her on trips to Tintagel Castle and the Pool of Excalibur, and once to have tea with a mermaid, who told her about the country under the sea.

SCIENCE FICTION

Dragonflight by Anne McCaffrey – I absolutely love these books and I love Anne McCaffrey

The men who rode the dragons were a breed apart. Chosen when the dragons were first hatched, they became soulmates for life with the huge, magnificent beasts they controlled – the green, blue, brown and bronzes – beautiful – terrible – the only creatures who could defend the planet Pern from the blood-red star. But without the Queen, the dragons would become extinct. Only the gigantic, golden Queen could breed the new flights. And the Queen was fading . . . dying . . . leaving behind one last, huge, golden egg.

CRIME

Bad Debts by Peter Temple – This has now been made into a telemovie

A phone message from ex-client Danny McKillop doesn’t ring any bells for Jack Irish. Life is hard enough without having to dredge up old problems: His beloved football team continues to lose, the odds on his latest plunge at the track seem far too long, and he’s still cooking for one. When Danny turns up dead, Jack is forced to take a walk back into the dark and dangerous past.

With suspenseful prose and black humor, Peter Temple builds an unforgettable character in Jack Irish and brings the reader on a journey that is as intelligent as it is exciting.

Enjoy!

H. M. Clarke

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