When I was a young mother, the days seemed so long! My patience was often thin, my financial resources were slim, and I was suffering from as-yet-undiagnosed bi-polar disorder. In other words, I was a wreck!
But relief was in sight. As I slid between the sheets at night, I would open my latest library book and enter the glamorous world of my favorite authors. Ngaio Marsh, Margery Allingham, Dorothy L. Sayers, and Agatha Christie—all the Queens of the Golden Age (1920s,30s, and 40s).
The world they created for me was orderly. Good vs. Evil. Good always won. The characters were comforting—Lord Peter Wimsey, Detective Chief Inspector Alleyn, Albert Campion & Magersfontain Lugg, Miss Marple, and Hercule Poirot. They were all eccentric, beautifully drawn characters, especially the first four. Christie concentrated more on plot than character.
Late last spring
, I had my first episode of writers’ block. I was physically run down and would soon succumb to pneumonia. I was mentally exhausted from writing a book that was too close to home. My prime beta reader had read the first 100 pp., and the book just wasn’t working. For the first time in my life, I gave up on a book. I didn’t have what it took to write It.
After two weeks of doing home projects I had been putting off, sleeping a lot, and reading better authors than I am, I was tearing my hair out. I needed to write! But the well was dry.
My husband asked me, “What would you write if you could write anything you wanted?” I thought about it. Finally, I said,”A mystery set in Oxford in the 1930s.” He said, “Do it.”
I hadn’t a scrap of motivation. Sitting down, I wrote a character description for a heroine. I took her out to lunch with my husband and me. We created the bare bones of a plot. It fit on half a page, typed.
Surrounding myself with Art Deco book covers, I began to write. At first
, it wasn’t easy or fun. More lunches with said husband. I got out notecards and wrote descriptions and motivations for fourteen characters. I stamped the red herrings with red circles.
Gradually, I picked up steam. The project grew. I began to envision subplots. I began to tangle it up. Then my grown children visited. Then I got pneumonia. Then I got five secondary infections. The children visited again. I visited them. Before I knew it, the summer was gone. But somehow, I had gained my writing mojo back and, pedal to the metal, I finished the book. Now the endorphins are flowing, and I am contemplating a series.
I am realizing that writing these mysteries is a huge challenge, but even more fun than reading them. I hope you will enjoy An Oxford Murder, too. It is up on Amazon for pre-order now. You can get it HERE. The book release for the ebook and paperback is November 6.