The Second Black Beacon Book of Mystery will be released on the 8th of July (but the Kindle version is available for pre-order at just $1.99 instead of $3.99, and you can add it to your Goodreads list today) and to celebrate this new volume of short mysteries bound to get armchair detectives the world over donning their deerstalkers, we’re interviewing the contributing authors. Are you ready to glimpse the inner workings of these criminally clever minds? Sit back with a cup of tea and enjoy the following interview—on second thoughts, don’t drink that!
It’s always tricky interviewing a mystery writer about a particular story because we don’t want to give anything away, but can you tell us (carefully) where the idea for your story came from?
There are several sub-genres of mystery fiction, but the stories in this anthology are traditional fair-play mysteries in which the reader can try to solve the puzzle before all is revealed. What makes this kind of mystery so timeless?
I think we all like an interesting puzzle and that will never change. There’s something intriguing about having fictional characters who seem perfectly normal on the outside but, for one of them, underneath it all lurks a different type of person altogether. The worse the crime, the worse the character. Which one of these people could have committed such a heinous crime ? It sparks the imagination.
Give us one classic mystery writer you admire and one new talent (not from this anthology) readers ought to discover?
I could make a very long list of classic mystery writers I admire, but the one that stands out is John Dickson Carr, aka Carter Dickson, so-called master of the locked-room mystery. To think up so many ingenious plots during his writing career was incredible. As for new talent, I particularly like Jane Harper, whose mystery novels ‘The Dry’ and ‘The Lost Man’ are outstanding.
Is this the first mystery your protagonist has solved?
Yes, this is the first story in which DI Alec Wells has appeared. I hope to give him another murder mystery to solve in the not-too-distant future.
If you were a detective, private investigator, investigative journalist, or amateur sleuth, what would be your trademark quirk?
A glass of real ale would get the little grey cells working hopefully. But only one, mind, or it could have the opposite effect!
Have you ever solved a real-life mystery?
As my wife’s memory is much better than mine, I asked her if I’d ever solved a real-life mystery, and she replied a resounding ‘No !’ but added that I’ve unintentionally caused a few! To use words from my schooldays, my comprehension was never quite as good as my composition!
How important is setting to you in your writing? Have you lived or visited where your story is set?
For me, setting is a big part of most stories. It makes it so much easier to write if you can imagine yourself there, and should enhance the experience for readers too. Most of my story ‘Spanner in the Works’ unfolds indoors, but the opening scene at Goldsworth Park lake is very familiar to me.
What do you aim to give your readers?
Giving readers something to think about after they have finished the story is quite important. And twists and turns in a mystery story are vital, to keep the reader interested.
What are you working on now?
At present, I’m between writing stories. However, much of my time is taken up with proofreading stories for some of my author friends.
Thanks for playing along. Enjoy the tea!