UPDATE: The winner of the goody bag is…David!
* * * * *
Do you – as either readers or writers – have a theme or era or setting that will not let you go? I was recently re-reading Susan Hill’s excellent “Strange Meeting”, which is set in WWI; in the introduction she said how she felt compelled to write WWI out of her system and did so with that book. On the one hand I was frustrated by that, as I’d have loved to read more of her work set in that era, but on the other, I was envious of her because she’d been able to produce that one book and walk away. You see, WWI keeps whispering in my ear saying, “Write about me, write about me…”
I guess it’s partly my own fault because I have always read a lot of books from the late 19th and early 20th century (Conan Doyle has a lot to answer for) and enjoy ploughing through biographies of WWI poets, or true accounts from soldiers, sailors and airman of the time. Time and again I come across something that makes me think, “Ooh, that would be a great idea for a story”. Then I have to tell the writer side of my brain to behave itself as I’ve “done” WWI four times and really, do I have to go there again?
I’m sure this is as much a reading obsession as a writing one. There was a period when I almost had to sneak WWI themed books out of the bookshop and into my house in a plain brown wrapper, so my family wouldn’t know I’d bought yet another tome about sportsmen who’d lost their lives in the Great War or some such theme. But once you get bitten by the bug, it has you in its grip as strongly as Lyme Disease does, and I’ve had that too so I know what I’m talking about!
It’s the same when you come across a new author. Maybe I should rephrase that – it’s the same when I come across a new author, because I just want to work through anything of theirs I can get my mitts on. And it’s not just “new” authors. I’ve read and re-read The Lord of the Rings many times, and then I’ve pored over all those books about the writing of the trilogy. Similarly I’ve read the Sherlock Holmes stories, then felt compelled to get books about Sherlock’s’ London, the world he lived in, the men who inspired the character, and all things Holmes and Watson.
So, tell me. What’s your reading or writing obsession? Best answer wins a goodie bag.
A more than professional interest . . . a more than personal intrigue.
Orlando Coppersmith should be happy. WWI is almost a year in the past, he’s back at St. Bride’s College in Cambridge, his lover and best friend Jonty Stewart is at his side again, and—to top it all—he’s about to be made Forsterian Professor of Applied Mathematics. And although he and Jonty have precious little time for an investigative commission, they can’t resist a suspected murder case which must be solved in a month so a clergyman can claim his rightful inheritance.
But the courses of scholarship, true love, and amateur detecting never did run smooth. Orlando’s inaugural lecture proves almost impossible to write. A plagiarism case he’s adjudicating on turns nasty with a threat of blackmail against him and Jonty. And the murder investigation turns up too many leads and too little hard evidence.
Orlando and Jonty may be facing their first failure as amateur detectives, and the ruin of their professional and private reputations. Brains, brawn, the pleasures of the double bed—they’ll need them all to lay their problems to rest.
Charlie’s a member of the Romantic Novelists’ Association, Mystery People, and International Thriller Writers Inc., with titles published by Carina, Samhain, Bold Strokes Books, MLR, and Riptide.
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