Greetings from my attic in the Blue Mountains!
Winter has now definitely arrived with a vengeance up here in the Blue Mountains. We even had some early snow recently and our garden turned into a magic winter wonderland.
During winter I spend quite a bit of time in Sydney and go for long walks along the harbour foreshores. The mood on the harbour is particularly lovely in the evening. Here, let me show you:
One of the recent highlights in Sydney right now was the spectacular VIVID Festival. Iconic landmarks around the harbour are illuminated in wonderful, imaginative ways, attracting thousands of visitors from far and near.
Another highlight for me this month was without doubt awarding the Palmer Innovation Prize to a group of gifted young research scientists at the Garvan Institute of Medical Research here in Sydney. This wonderful prize is awarded each year by the Joseph Palmer Foundation set up by Joseph Palmer & Sons, the oldest stockbroking firm in Australia. I am privileged to be a director of the Foundation, and look forward each year to this splendid event.
Those of you who have read The Hidden Genes of Professor K (book 3 in the Jack Rogan Mysteries series) and Professor K: The Final Quest,(book 4), will remember that these books are dedicated to the Garvan Institute and the many talented scientists working there who not only helped me with the science covered in the books, but made sure I got the complex research right and didn’t stray too far from what is realistic and possible in light of what we know today.
I am pleased to tell you that this new segment which was introduced for the first time last month, was very well received. I have therefore decided to make it a permanent feature.
Once again, the decision to choose a Reader of the Month wasn’t easy, but one particular comment from a dedicated reader definitely stood. His name is Peter, and this is what he had to say:
Just finished your 60 hour masterpiece…love, love, love your stuff….seldom a foul word, great dialog, super story, easy to read yet profound…..keep it up !!
Thank you for your kind words, Peter! As Reader of the Month, you will receive a signed copy of my latest book. In fact, yours is already on its way to you!
Because writing is such a solitary endeavour, feedback from readers is hugely important as it tells me how my work resonates, and how it is received. Therefore, once again a big Thank You to all of you who have reached out and contacted me this month with various comments of encouragement, feedback and support!
You will recall that last month I introduced a literary giant to you: Agatha Christie (1890 – 1976), the undisputed queen of intriguing murder mysteries and thrillers. Because she was such a prolific writer and has created so many iconic characters of great interest, I decided to bring you this segment in two parts.
In Part I we looked at her many impressive records and examined one of her most iconic and memorable characters: Hercule Poirot.
In this part, we will look a little further afield and probe deeper into what inspired Christie and how her other iconic character, Miss Marple, entered the literary arena and became so popular and loved by millions.
The most original and authentic settings for Christie’s murder mysteries were always based on real-life experiences and there is no better example for this than the incredibly successful Murder on the Orient Express which Christie wrote in the Pera Palace Hotel in Istanbul after leaving England in 1928 and travelling to Istanbul on the Orient Express.
Christie’s fascination with archaeology began in 1930 when she met a young archaeologist, Max Mallowan, who took her on a tour of Iraq where he worked. Christie and Mallowan were married later that year, and Christie accompanied her young husband – 13 years her junior – on many archaeological expeditions. No doubt because of this, several of her novels are set in the Middle East and she was able to use these exotic locations with great skill and authenticity.
Another important aspect of Christie’s writing that adds so much to its originality and appeal, is her detailed and intimate knowledge of certain exotic subjects, like poisons for example, which feature so prominently in her post war crime novels. Christie acquired that knowledge while working in the pharmacy at University College Hospital during the Second World War. In The Pale Horse she used thallium poisoning to kill off a number of victims. She did this so successfully that her clues, in this case the victims’ loss of hair, actually helped solve a real murder case at the time.
Speaking of authenticity, Christie was investigated my MI5 during the war because one of her characters, Major Bletchley, appeared in her thriller N or M in 1941. The British Intelligence Agency thought that she must have a spy in Bletchley Park, Britain’s top-secret codebreaking agency. However, this turned out not to be the case.
While authentic settings and detailed and accurate knowledge of subjects like gunshot wounds and poisons greatly enhance a good story, a nail-biting thriller cannot work without fascinating characters like Hercule Poirot and Miss Marple.
The endearing and eccentric Miss Jane Marple made her first appearance in Christie’s short story collection The Thirteen Problems in 1927. Once again, one of the reasons this character is so original and true to life – not only in appearance, but also in mannerism, speech and behaviour generally – is due to the fact that she was based on someone Christie knew intimately, namely, her grandmother and her ‘Ealing cronies.”
The much loved Jane Marple appeared in 12 novels and many stories.
I would like to conclude our little journey into the literary life of Agatha Christie and her wonderful characters, Hercule Poirot and Miss Marple, with a little known, but absolutely fascinating twist.
Christie’s two novels, Curtain, and Sleeping Murder written during the Second World War were intended to be the last and final cases of Hercule Poirot and Miss Marple. Because Christie realised that she couldn’t write any more novels after that, these two books were sealed in a bank vault for over thirty years. They were only published towards the end of her life in 1974, the same year the first film version of the immensely successful Murder on the Orient Express was released. By then, she was in her eighties and not writing any more.
Well, what a fascinating life! I hope you enjoyed exploring some parts of it as much as I have.
Next month we will take a look at another favourite writer of mine. Who? Not telling! You will have to wait for the next newsletter to find out…
You will recall that last month I told you about a particularly intriguing and heinous crime. The murder of Anita Andrews in Fagiani’s Cocktail Lounge in downtown Napa. I referred you to a fascinating article by Sam Whiting covering the crime and the investigation.
(Here’s the link if you would like to have another look).
But that was only the beginning … The story continues decades later with the trial and conviction of the murderer, Roy Melanson, a serial killer, who had so successfully eluded the authorities for many years.
How all this came about, is as riveting as the original crime story itself, and I would like to share this story with you now.
As a writer, I know how important it is to reach out and support fellow-authors and help them ‘spread the word’ about their work. Here’s a particularly talented author I know you will find interesting:
Introducing my friend and fellow-writer Judith Lucci, a #1 Amazon Best Seller!
DO NO HARM is an extraordinary, limited collection of medical thrillers written by USA Today, Wall Street Journal and Amazon best-selling authors!
Do you crave books with nail-biting suspense, twisted plots and great characters caught up in whirlwinds of crime, deception and lies? Do you love sitting on the edge of your seat, wondering who will survive…and who won’t? From the mountains of West Virginia, to acute care hospitals, the battlefields of the Middle East, join us for these incredible stories of healthcare gone wrong. If you like Robin Cook, David Baldacci and Patricia Cornwell, this collection is for you!
A binge-readers dream
Judith Lucci, PhD., RN
WSJ Best Selling Author
USA Today Best Selling Author
Amazon Author Page: https://www.amazon.com/
Finally, my friends, just another little reminder about my FREE Starter Library which can be downloaded right now by visiting my website and following the prompts.
Please do tell your friends about this and encourage them to have a look at the library. And don’t forget, you are one of my valued Literary Ambassadors who spread the word about Jack Rogan and his many adventures to new readers who, hopefully, will find my work as entertaining as you do. And please remember, nothing works better than a personal recommendation; YOURS!