detective

Birthday Cluedo

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Sorry I haven’t posted in a while! I hope this makes up for the gap. I wrote this piece of flash fiction as a friend’s birthday present. It’s actually the first piece of flash fiction–as opposed to drabbles, which are the fan fiction equivalent–I have written in years, that I am entirely happy with.

Personally I prefer the word ‘drabble’, but anyway … on with the piece.


The detective steepled his fingers, doing his Holmes impression whilst the suspects all filed into the room.

Colonel Mustard came first; stiff military stature, an air of cold indifference. Mrs Peacock followed shortly behind, fanning herself to try and disguise her shaking hands. Reverend Green was the first to appear calm; confident in his own innocence. Miss Scarlet slunk in alongside Mrs White, despite the intense dislike shared between them; and bringing up the rear was Professor Plum, nervously mopping his brow.

All with motive, all with opportunity. Yet, the detective had explored every option, and as they lined up nervously, waiting for him to pronounce which of them were for the noose, his eyes flickered to the guilty party, and he smiled.

“So?” The Reverend spoke first. “Which of us did it?”

“I expect you did,” said Miss Scarlet. “I saw you going into the library with the candlestick!”

“No! I thought it was Mustard with the pipe—”

“How dare you!” the Colonel blustered. “It was obviously Mrs White—”

They began squabbling amongst themselves.

“You’re all wrong,” the detective said loudly. They fell silent, miraculously.

“Well then, who was it?” the Professor asked after a moment’s pause.

The detective pointed, and they all craned their necks to see who he was indicating.

“It was,” the detective said amongst murmurs of disbelief, “the cat.”

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Crazy Convos and Christie

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Review of “The Christie Curse” by Victoria Abbott

15808728I can start by saying that the book met the two primary objectives of the whodunit genre: one, I didn’t work out whodunit straight away, and two, the narrative kept me hooked till the end.

As for the plot, “The Christie Curse” is a mystery about a supposedly lost Agatha Christie play, which is linked to a possible murder. The protagonist, Jordan Bingham, is relatable enough despite most readers probably weren’t raised by crooks as she was. Her job, to track down the play for her book-collecting, dragon of an employer, quickly looks to be dangerous but she continues stubbornly at it—if only to keep her luscious room and meals at the Van Alst manor house. She is a little too quick to point the finger but that only makes her more human.

The mystery itself is intriguing. Whilst I guessed about the cat quite early on, I only realised whodunit a few sentences before it was actually stated—about the right time, in my view, for the reader to work it out. A few scenes ran tingles up my spine, but there was nothing at all thriller-rish about the book—overall it’s what I think is called a ‘cosy’ mystery. There was definitely a Christie element, though you don’t have to be particularly familiar with her works to read the story.

I enjoyed every moment of the book, and highly recommend it. The best thing is, it’s the first in a series, and I believe the second one is out now.

Insane Facebook Conversation

My friend gave me permission to post this here. I had to save it for posterity. Possibly the most bonkers conversation I ever had, except maybe with the lady in New York who could tell I was English just from my complexion (apparently).

Me: I think my computer’s got Chizpurfles[1].

Friend: Oh dear … This is what happens when you exterminate all the Doxies in your home. Doxies feed primarily on dead skin cells and Chizpurfles.

Me: Hmm. I guess I shouldn’t have bought all that Doxycide from amazon.wiz—what a waste of Galleons. I should have trained them to guard my electrical items instead. Especially my TARDIS[2], it’s been crashing for weeks. Mr Scamander should have informed me. That book of his has some serious gaps.

Friend: Scamander? The Scamander prejudice against Doxies is well known. I’m surprised you hadn’t heard. They all despise Doxies and have advocated the complete extermination of the entire species. There was an article about it in the Prophet the other day, I’ll send it to you by owl when I find it. As for your TARDIS, I find when mine is malfunctioning, a good kick to the console tends to fix it for a while. Alternatively, I’ve heard that some people have luck with blue or green jello.

Me: Scamander? Prejudices? Well I never. Thank you very much for the article. I’m a Quibbler reader myself, hence why I didn’t see it. I would kick my TARDIS, but it was rather delicate before those pests got at it. I could try the jelly, if I had some. My first instinct was a powerful Reparo, but I’m afraid of the whole magic vs electronics clash.

Friend: Just once, I tried an enlargement charm on a computer screen, I was trying to turn it into a TV you see, and nothing happened except that all the actors, characters and animals on the screen seemed to have red eyes. It was a bit unsettling after a while. Since then, I prefer not to mix the two, just in case. I wouldn’t try it on something the size of a TARDIS. I suppose you could hire a Jedi mechanic … I mean, the Force is, after all, as much magic as science … but it could be expensive.

Me: Bro, help, I need Star Wars knowledge for a comeback.

Bro: May the unhelpful quote be with you.

Friend: Victory is mine

Me: [struggles to think of something witty to say about the currency in Star Wars—what IS the currency in Star Wars???] You are no longer my brother.

Bro: [grins inanely—at least, that’s what I reckon he did though I wasn’t actually there]

Footnotes

[1] Chizpurfle: a pest (from Harry Potter, but mentioned only in Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them) which feeds on magic or, in the absence of such, “has been known to attack electrical objects … explaining the puzzling failure of many relatively new Muggle artifacts” (Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find them, page 7 footnote.)

[2] My phone, which has a TARDIS skin.

Pin of the week

bronz-abstract-phoenix

If anyone can help me properly embed a Pin so it SHOWS UP properly, please get in touch! At the moment I’m having to save the pics and upload them. The guidance on Pinterest is not working.

Write What You Read?

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I’ve heard and read lots of writing advice, and many people say to write what you know. Also, many people say that to be a (good) writer you have to read a lot. I don’t think I’ve heard this as an actual quote, but it’s been implied, that you write what you read (like, ‘you are what you eat’).

To contest that, I’ve met many writers who struggle to find the time to read. I myself struggle to read even the required reading for my course, so when I finish a novel I’ve been reading for pleasure, it’s a pretty big deal. Contrast that to my childhood when I devoured book after book and got into trouble for reading under the desk at school. For me, the telly is an alternative that requires less effort to enjoy since it’s more passive.

Of course to an extend I think how much you get out of reading depends what you’re trying to write. In terms of format, I write prose but it’s been commented that my dialogue is quite script-like, which could be because I ‘read’ (watch) more scripts than I read prose. Since I want to be a scriptwriter, and I’ve got pretty good feedback for prose in this style, I’m not going to worry too much, though I would like to read a lot more than I do–I have so many book samples on my Kindle awaiting reading.

Genre, I think, is a more interesting one. This is all just my opinion, I am by no means saying any writers should take my word as law, but I think it is possible to write in a genre you don’t really read–although it comes with limitations. I should explain.

For a case study, take one of my novels (a work in progress), Shadow Charge. Unlike my other novel WIP, Crossfire, SC is I think pretty difficult to define as a genre. I think the closest possible descriptive would be supernatural whodunit. But on its own that doesn’t sum it up. I would say that SC is part whodunit, part ghost story, part time travel, part psychological thriller, with a touch of romance, and that description is subject to some altering between now and publication (which is not foreseeable for some years). Out of all those genre labels, I don’t read very many. Take psychological thrillers, for example. I don’t make a habit of reading them because many of them freak me out a bit. The same with ghost stories. While I have not read many whodunits, I have watched countless ones on television so I am familiar with tropes and so forth (though I have read two Agatha Christies and one Conan Doyle to date, so I’m not doing too badly).

What’s my point? Well I won’t know for certain till the novel is at a point where I get a lot of feedback on it, but the way the plot has played out I think it works–if I can iron out the wrinkles. Because the novel is such a blend of genres–when I got the initial idea, I would have called it a fantasy, but it has since become apparent that despite its links to my fantasy novel, the actual story is very different–being fluent in its genre(s) is not so vital, because it’s something new. That’s not to say I won’t continue to persue reading more whodunit etc novels. Though I have yet to come across someone who’s had an idea quite like mine. (If you know of something that crosses all those genres, please do tell me, I’d be interested to read it.) On the other hand, I would not dare to try and write a straight romance or straight psychological thriller before becoming fluent in the genre first–I don’t believe I would have the tools to make it a great, stand-out story that way.

So, some food for thought. Do any writers reading this write ‘blended’ genres? How much experience do you reckon you need for each? Please do comment, I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Randomness, ‘Knitted Fingers’ and Christie Books

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Just a shortie!

Finished my N+7 poem. Got a good laugh out of it! Considering posting the rest online to make others laugh as well, but we’ll see what my tutor has to say about it. There may be some other step to take after changing all the nouns.

Finished reading the Orient Express. Shocked by the ending–not the who did it part, which I won’t spoil for anyone who doesn’t know, but what came after the fact was revealed. Quite different to the film! I can’t quite make up my mind which I prefer.

Oh, I so want to see the Mousetrap at some point. I’ve seen Christie’s other play, it was on at Dartmouth when I visited Torquay last, and it was brilliant. I downloaded half the Agatha Christies on Kindle the day before Amazon stopped doing Nectar points, and I recently got about twelve second-hand, so I won’t be short of evening reading material for a while. Not to mention still working my way through my Christmas, birthday, and about-to-stop-doing-Nectar-points DVD sets.

I’ve started knitting again. I’m still on the same scarf that I started in my first year when I was taught how, I think I made it too wide because I’m almost out of the wool and it’s a square shape. I’ve also made a mess of it, part way across the loops refuse to accommodate my needles and I have to change direction. Still, once I’ve figured out where I went wrong, I’ll have learned something …