And what a fab morning it is here in sunny Cyprus today!
We have near perfect temperatures with a slight cooling breeze, great for outdoor life or snoozing in a deckchair with a fave read.
Most of us have favourite authors, and seeing as I write mainly crime I read dozens of books written by famous and not so famous writers. Some I’ve enjoyed include, Arthur Conan Doyle, Charles Dickens, Ruth Rendell, Reginald Hill, Henning Mankell, Steig Larsson, Karin slaughter, Patricia Cornwell and Agatha Christie.
Now Agatha Christie may be an anomaly…she is purported to have sold the most books of any author and yet some readers do not like her writing style as it crosses many genre and, does not always stick to a strong formula – which I happen to like as I often break the rules. What rules? I hear you ask and I have to agree…writing is and should be entirely fluid.
A little background on AG...According to Wikipedia and to the Guinness Book of World Records, Christie is the best-selling novelist of all time. Her novels have sold roughly 4 billion copies, and her estate claims that her works rank third, after those of William Shakespeare and the Bible, as the world's most-widely published books. According to Index Translationum, Christie is the most-translated individual author, and her books have been translated into at least 103 languages. And Then There Were None is Christie's best-selling novel with 100 million sales to date, making it the world's best-selling mystery ever, and one of the best-selling books of all time. In 1971, she was made a Dame by Queen Elizabeth II at Buckingham Palace.
A pretty fine testament I think! This led me to think what processes did Agatha Christie go through when writing her books?
When reading her autobiography I wasn’t surprised to learn that she never had a dedicated place in which to write. Many of us don’t, and a table and a laptop is all we need. Agatha liked a steady table and a typewriter for instance. When she became irritable and broody and in real agony over a book, she took herself off until she emerged weeks later, shaky and pale but triumphant with her latest creation. Her initial chapters she wrote in long-hand, and for three weeks or so she always found it terribly difficult to get on with it at all. She says it was like a feeling of paralyzed hopelessness. Once that episode was over and she was well into the flow with ‘it’ she then she wrote straight onto her type writer (around 1930).
It was during WW2, that she started writing two books at once. Agatha had the notion that when she was writing one book, she found she was running into danger of becoming stale. If this happened she would put it aside and come back to it later. During the war, there were few social distractions in the evenings, and Agatha could spend far longer writing and becoming at one with her characters. Some books took years of thought – she often felt she had a book growing inside her, until it all fell in place -the cast list, the plot, the full story. On one occasion when this happened, she sat down and wrote the book in three days! She wrote the first chapter and the last, because she didn’t want her train of thought interrupted along the way. After her three day marathon she slept for 24 hours, completely drained and exhausted.
Agatha Christie believed in using simple, everyday language and in the economy of words. She thought this was particularly important in detective stories. She relied heavily on dialogue, and we find that often the solution to the plot depended on the reader’s interpretation of something a character has said. This leaves a reader to focus on the story and not worry with a challenging vocabulary, making this one of the key points of Agatha’s work.
A research team analysed her books for structure and word length. They found that all of her books are very similar in style, using the same number of letters in a word on average, and nearly the same number of words in a sentence. And what’s more this is true throughout her career. Had she found a successful formula which captivated her readers…I think so. She repeats key words and in a small space. Research has shown that language affects the mind by having an effect on how we think and feel. Agatha often repeats words often three times in a paragraph, and this enables a reader to become convinced about something.
I found this fact fascinating since I always look for alternatives! In addition, research claims that a person’s conscious mind has a very limited focus, and can only focus on between five and nine things at one time. Once there are more than nine things, the conscious mind can’t continue to track them all, and so the person becomes ‘overloaded’. The 'Agatha Christie Code' claims that Agatha often uses more than nine characters, and has more than nine plot lines taking place at any one time. So when the reader’s mind gets overloaded, they begin to really experience the book, and become lost in it. Because feelings are infinitely more memorable than thoughts, people associate these feelings with Agatha Christie's name and subsequently with her novels.
Finally, if you look through an Agatha Christie novel, you'll discover she has very precise control over the speed at which we read her books, simply by changing the level of descriptive passages. There are more descriptive passages at the beginning of her book than at the end. This has the effect that we read more quickly towards the end of her books... we are literally rushing towards the end to see who did it!
In 1450 there were 100 new books published. Now there is a book published every 30 seconds. Amazing isn’t it? I wonder how many Agatha would contribute every year?
And now for a little fun...
MY VERY OWN 'AGATHA CHRISTIE' TYPE REVIEWS FROM MY BOOKS! Thanks guys!
5.0 out of 5 stars The Assassins' Village, By R. Murry "Roy" (Florida) - Amazon Verified Purchase
Ms. Mortimer's novel starts you off with a zinger that holds your attention until the last `t' is crossed and the last `i' is dotted in the final chapter. And even then, you're not certain as to if the mystery is solved. Agatha Christie novels kept me on the edge, as this well written "Who done it?" tale. Who could ask for anything more?
5.0 out of 5 stars A brilliant read, as always!, By Beeshon This review is from: Camera...Action...Murder! You're always in good hands when you have a date with Faith and her Diana Rivers mysteries. Not quite the same age as our very revered Miss Marple, but equally shrewd in the sleuthing department, Diana is considerably younger and--no offence to dear Jane--very attractive.
5.0 out of 5 stars A Perfect Winning Formula,By Alice Turner This review is from: The Surgeon's Blade ) After reading Faith Mortimer's previous other 2 books in her Diana Rivers mystery thriller series I was keen to read more. From the opening first few pages I was not disappointed. Like another reviewer before me has already said, Faith surely has got to be the Agatha Christie of this century.
5.0 out of 5 stars What a "novel" idea!, Jackie Purple - This review is from: Children of the Plantation
Faith Mortimer picked an interesting and effective method to weave her story and unravel a compelling mystery. Miss Chalcot, the intriguing hostess and owner of an old Malaysian rubber plantation turned hotel, hires a guest, Diana Rivers, on vacation and likened to a "modern day Agatha Christie", to write a novel that would tell the Chalcot family's story.
5.0 out of 5 stars Another great Diana Rivers Mystery, By AnnE This review is from: CHILDHUNT
I was waiting for this book in the Diana Rivers Series and downloaded it immediately when it was available. And, Faith has done it again. I am feeling like old friends with the characters and loved reading about their next case. As with the prior books, the story reels you in from the first pages and keeps you on the edge of your seat to the very end. Thanks Faith for another great read and I will be waiting on your next one. For readers that love a good mystery, you won't be disappointed in this book or any of the other books in the series.
As I said -a bit of fun! They said it not me, lol!
Take care everyone and thanks for dropping by.