Two years ago my first novel, The Hotel Galileo, was published by Wolfsinger Publications and one of the back cover blurbs declared the following: "If Agatha Chrsitie had written fiction she would have stayed at the Hotel Galileo . . ." (Thank you, David Boop). After pondering that sentence for a while it struck me that what I was really trying to do with the book (and consequently the series) is what all writers do: create something they can't find in the current market.
How many times have we enjoyed a certain book or film or tv series and said afterwards, "Yeah, I really enjoyed that . . . but what if they did it this way, or in this type of genre, or with vampires?" For me, The Barclay Heath Mystery Series (which now includes The Hotel Galileo and The Vanished Race) was borne of a love of Agatha Christie's Hercule Poirot mysteries and an underlying desire to do something different with the genre. I loved the traditional 'Britishness' of Christie's tales, the gallery of suspects, and the genius plots; but at the same time, I also love science fiction - aliens, faraway planets, mystical objects, and everything that goes along with it. It took me several attempts (and a lot of sleepless nights) before I struck on the formula which is the basis for the Barclay Heath series: that of a 1920's-set mystery series set in an alternate universe. What if, I pondered, mankind had ventured out into the stars at the end of the nineteenth century? And what if Twenties values and attitudes had remained unchanged? Imagine a traditional British gentleman detective hopping around the galaxy solving all manner of mysteries. Wouldn't that be so much fun to write?
The answer, I can tell you, is yes it was.
Of all the works I've written so far, the two Barclay Heath mysteries have been the most enjoyable to write. And the third adventure is well under way. Writing should be fun. Otherwise, why bother doing it?
I grew up in Torquay, the birthplace of Agatha Christie, so her influence has been all around me for as long as I can remember. Her legacy is exceptional. I believe she is still one of the best-selling authors of all time. I loved the recent episode of Doctor Who, 'The Unicorn and the Wasp', in which he meets Agatha Christie on the night she went missing; and I particularly love the end of that episode when the Doctor pulls out an old trunk in the Tardis and finds a copy of one of Christie's classic paperbacks, Death in the Clouds. The Doctor remarks how, even in the far-flung future, Agatha Christie is still the best-selling authors of all time.
And rightly so.
The Barclay Heath Mysteries:
The Hotel Galileo
The Vanished Race