"Are you always thinking of how to kill someone?" one of my readers asked. Well - yes, I guess I am. I recall dining on a patio in Sydney, Australia. It was lovely afternoon that was turning into a lovely evening. As the sun set and the air started to chill, the restaurant staff began to light these lamp-post like gas lanterns. In that instance, I had a scene for a future novel. The lamp would of course explode and the hapless employee would be killed. Who did it? Why? But wait....maybe that wasn't the person meant to die! And another story has started.
Overheard phrases, random scenes, and always a group of people will inspire the most deadly of thoughts. A scene is born or maybe a line of dialogue. Something to jot down and file away until its time is right - hoping that when that time comes, I can remember what my note meant!
Agatha Christie mentioned this very habit in her autobiography. Coming across phrases and notations for plots she couldn't rembmer. Oh how many more stories could have been told! Then again, in reading her last Miss Marple novel, Sleeping Murder, I see how one idea grew over time.
In Sleeping Murder, an older woman in a sanatorium asks, "Is it your poor child?" and then continues with, "Behind the fireplace." That woman and those two short phrases became another novel, By the Pricking of My Thumbs. Interesting to note: while the character and phrases started in a Miss Marple story they ended up in a Tommy and Tuppence book.
So yes, murder seems to be on my mind but then I think I'm in good company!
W.G. Eggleton, Author of Murder Makes Mischief
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