Author Victoria Laurie's newest tale was inspired by the maven of mystery herself, Agatha Christie. Learn how Laurie channeled Christie when crafting the latest novel in the Ghost Hunter Mystery serues, Ghouls, Ghouls, Ghouls.
Several months ago when I was casting about for a new story idea for the next book in my Ghost Hunter’s Mysteries series, I looked to the classics and found fantastic inspiration in Agatha Christie.
Like so many millions and millions of others, I simply adore Agatha. It’s not just that her mysteries are so well plotted; it’s the way she tells the story that I admire so much. With her succinct and easy style her novels are indeed timeless and just so readable...you know?
I also love that in every Agatha Christie book I read, I find little pieces of myself reflected back in her characters. It’s part of her genius, I think, to show us our whole selves – and not just those bits about us we like. Masterful.
Still, the truest example of the genius of Christie’s writing, I believe, is in the way she so deftly moves the novel's setting from mere scenery at the novel's opening to an actual participant - a character of the novel - within a very short period of time.
Take And Then There Were None for example. Remember Soldier Island? This quaint holiday destination began as such a pleasant, peaceful place but quickly morphed into a deadly trap where one by one the little soldiers met their doom. As the story unfolded, it was as if the island itself took on its own persona, reflecting the characteristics of the invited guests – each of them pretending to be one thing while hiding a sinister secret.
This was exactly the feel I was looking for when I began to write Ghouls, Ghouls, Ghouls, and I definitely had Christie’s novel at the forefront of my thoughts. For me, the setting was simply too delicious to resist – a deserted rocky island with no easy access on or off, severe weather, and treacherous landscape...what marvelous fun to explore! To my delight, I found that creating an island off the Irish coast lent an extra air of moody mystique to the story and allowed the paranormal elements I build into every plot to really shine through.
It also allowed me to overcome many other obstacles; like, having an isolated setting without a lot of inquisitive locals meddling into my protagonist's business of ghost-busting. Equally, it made it divinely easy to explain why local officials would be reluctant to get overly helpful when one of the ghost hunters goes missing. As a special nod to Christie I even tossed in a turbulent storm...or two! But most importantly, my own moody little island became the perfect setting for the eight-foot-tall murderous phantom I had protecting a cache of hidden treasure, which formed the heart of the mystery. I believe that to have set a murderous phantom against any other backdrop would have ultimately proven most untenable.
So, on the eve of the release of Ghouls, Ghouls, Ghouls, I think I shall humbly bow to the master, my dear Agatha, and thank her again for such glorious inspiration. I shall also point out that using her as my muse worked out so well, perhaps next time I'll take my characters on a nice long train ride... :)
- Victoria Laurie
You can pick up your own copy of Ghouls, Ghouls, Ghouls, in stores now!