Thanks Elizabeth for hosting me. I met Elizabeth at a Blog Book Tour Yahoo Group last year. That’s when I first learned about the term cosy mystery from her blog. I read romance my whole life. My experience with the genre of mystery and murder comes mainly from television series such as Poirot, Miss Marple, Mid Summer Murder, CSI, Law and Order and so on.
There is sometimes too much blood and gore in modern crime series to my taste. I also tend to refrain from writing murder myself. But in my latest novel Fire and Cross, Pride and Prejudice with a mystery twist, I stumbled upon the murder plot rather unexpectedly.
At the beginning, the story was intended to be a short one of 3,000 words. I set up a what-if scenario: Mr. Darcy was engaged to a mysterious lady since his youth, with a beautiful garnet cross as the promised gift. Suddenly out of the blue, Miss Caroline Bingley came bearing the exquisite jewelry. Was Mr. Darcy really engaged to her?
The short story resolved the true identity of the mysterious lady very quickly. But when I posted it online, readers demanded to know more. How did Miss Bingley get hold the garnet cross? Who was helping her? Why did she do it?
So I wrote on a bit longer and published it again in serialized format. Readers had more and more questions and I weaved the plots thicker and thicker. With the disappearance of one of the main characters, the suspected murder attempt on another, the speculated link to a French spy, Fire and Cross grew to a novel of over 70,000 words. It has somewhat become a “chose your own” interactive mystery.
Below is an adapted excerpt from the novel. Charles Bingley was interviewing his sister’s driver. I’ve hidden the name of the other possible culprit as “the other woman”.
“The Mistress met the other woman a few times.”
“Where? And how many times?”
“Hmm, I think in Cusworth Hall, at the Friars Inn at Doncaster and at the Charing Cross Inn.”
“Just those three times?”
Harold scratched his head. “As far as I can remember.”
“Were there any other people with them, during their meetings?”
“Well, at Cusworth Hall Miss Bingley was visiting the Barrymore sisters. There were many other people there too. I’m not sure.”
“And at Charing Cross? Was the Mistress acting strangely?”
“Hmm, I’m not allowed to say.”
“Tell me at once!” Bingley said angrily. “This woman could be a danger to my family. I need to know.”
“The Mistress dressed as a gentleman, then.”
Bingley’s lip tightened. “And did they meet up with anyone?”
“I think he was a Frenchman.”
Bingley’s face lost colour. “Who was he?”
“I heard the Mistress called him Pierre.”
He sighed with relief. Caroline met up with the jeweller to make a duplicate of the garnet cross. “How did the Mistress get injured?”
“I don’t know. We moved to a new townhouse a few days ago. I was sleeping. I heard some screams and then I followed Marie into the Mistress’s room. The Mistress was unconscious, with blood on her head. We didn’t know any doctor in Stoke Newington so we brought her back here, as fast as we could.”
“And did you do any errands for Miss Bingley or the other woman yesterday?” Darcy asked, taking over the interrogation as Bingley seemed to have run out of questions. Darcy needed to establish if Harold was the one who had delivered the macaroons who poisoned one of the Miss Bennets.
“Errands? Hmm, I took them to the river.”
“Did they say why they wished to go there?”
“They wouldn’t say anything to me. I’m just a servant. The Mistress dressed as a ... as a gentleman, as usual, when she went out.”
“But did you overhear their conversation?”
“I was not close enough to hear anything, but they did seem to be arguing …”
“… about you, Sir, Mr. Darcy.”
“Tell me exactly what you did hear.”
“I didn’t hear clearly. Just something like she had not been helpful enough for the Mistress … um … to become your wife. And she was blaming the Mistress for losing her temper by getting drunk. She blamed her for ruining her own scheme.”
“I am not sure I understand your meaning. Who blamed whom?”
“The other woman blamed the Mistress.”
“Did the other woman say what the scheme was?”
“Hmm …” Harold thought for a moment. “I don’t remember. But she said something in another language.”
“I don’t know no other language.”
“Could be anything. Ah, but the other woman greeted the Frenchman at Charing Cross in his language. She must have spoken French.”
Darcy and Bingley gasped. The French spy possibility was looming again.
“Did you remember the French words the other woman said?”
Harold scratched his head. “I don’t know, ruler ... erm … fur … I can’t say it correctly.”
I once read that a successful mystery writer should map out every detail of his plot before he begins the writing. I failed on that account miserably as I added and changed subplots all the time, depending on readers’ speculation.
However the writing experience was fun. I tried my best to surprise the readers. Some of them had guessed correctly who the culprit was at some stage but they did not suspect the true reason behind the murderous attempt. In the end, there was a death in the novel but without a murder.
Well, what do you think of cosy mystery over blood and gore crime? Share them here.
Thanks again Elizabeth for hosting me today. I’m delighted to give out an ebook of Fire and Cross in pdf format and a lovely souvenir to one lucky reader. Please head over to http://www.enidwilson.com and register for news and leave a comment here. Warning: The novel and my site contain explicit adult content.
Contest ends Saturday, December 18th and is open to worldwide readers.
Big hugs from hot and sunny Sydney, Enid.
Fire and Cross Details: Paperback: 224 pages Publisher: Steamy D Publishing (December 1, 2010) Language: English ISBN-10: 0980610575 ISBN-13: 978-0980610574 Product Dimensions: 8.5 x 5.5 x 0.6 inches Shipping Weight: 12.5 ounces Available on Amazon
Thanks for coming by today, Enid and best wishes for your new release. Hope y’all will leave a question or comment for Enid and your thoughts on gorier thrillers vs. puzzle-type mysteries.