All my life I've been an avid reader of all types of fiction, but ever since a well-meaning adult thrust an Enid Blyton into my hands when I was about six, crime and mystery has held a special allure.
I cut my teeth on Agatha Christie – the mistress of deception – and still read her to this day.
Eventually it was time for me to progress from reading whodunnits to trying my hand at writing some of my own.
Jane Hetherington's Adventures in Detection
For my first series, I decided upon a cosy crime series starring a female protagonist. I came up with the idea of a private investigator of the old-fashioned school, who probably wasn't young anymore, and who relied upon conversation, observation and ultimately her little grey cells to solve the tasks set her (no hacking into e-mails or bugging phones for her).
Jane Hetherington was that detective. She is sixty-three years of age, recently widowed, a grandmother, and a woman with such keen insight that people have turned to her throughout her life to help them solve the various conundrums and mysteries which besiege them.
Please don't be misled; she's not that old-fashioned, nor that timid. When many would be considering retirement, Jane sets up her own detective agency. I found it more interesting to script a detective who lives very much in the modern age with all the advantages and complications that affords a woman committed to working strictly within the law and her own moral code. This lady detective has Wi-Fi connection and she's not afraid to use it – but only for good, not for evil!
As the police in modern day Britain rarely ask retired librarians to help them with their investigations into serious crime (unless said retired librarian is a suspect), this set me an additional challenge: those who instruct her must do so because they have problems which are either of no concern to the police (or so they think), or which they don't want the police to know about.
Within these parameters, I had great fun honing and re-honing Jane Hetherington's Adventures in Detection, as they came to be called, creating all kinds of malfeasance for her to unmask and all manner of puzzles to solve.
As I had far too many ideas to fit into one novel, I decided to create a series of twelve, covering Jane's first year in business. The first novel opens on January 1, the second on February 1 – you've got the idea.
I called the first novel, The Night of Harrison Monk's Death and used it to introduce Jane along with a host of characters both from her present and her past. This was followed Pandora's Box, A Game of Cat and Mouse, and April. The fifth in the series, Fool's Gold, is close to publication.
After all this, I needed a change. It was time to try my hand at another series.
I knew it had to be a cosy, it's a genre I love to read and feel comfortable writing, but unlike Jane Hetherington's Adventures in Detection, there had to be a body in every story.
The Magpie Murders
My mind was made up, I was to write a murder mystery – but who would be my detective?
I spent some time working it all out, but finally settled on a courteous Scotland Yard detective called Detective Inspector Magpie – the Magpie. There has to be an assistant and the Magpie's assistant is a young female chemistry graduate from outside the force called Sepia Brown.
Where the idea of adding Cluedo to the mix came from exactly, I can't say. It might have been this comment from a fellow crime lover about his favourite things in a murder mystery:
‘Colourful characters, interesting puzzles and sometimes a little comedy.’
Whatever the reason, once the idea was in my head, I couldn't get it out again. The die was cast and the Magpie Murders born.
But despite the Cluedo twist, the Magpie Murders are detective stories, not children's stories, nor comic strips.
I hope I've risen to the challenge and you enjoy reading my novels as much as I enjoyed writing them.
Both are available from all Amazon sites (e-book & paperback).
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