Recently a friend suggested to me that I should write a short occult detective story.
I, not unnaturally, recoiled in horror. I know I can and do write some weird stuff (See “A Solemn Curfew and Other Dark Tales”), but by and large I write fantasy/scific adventure books laced with rebellious youth, a modicum of soldiers and/or eco-warriors.
The trouble was, having put the idea in my head (I will get you Dave), it wouldn’t go away. I read a lot, I mean a huge amount, some of it is social history, but I do like a good mystery. preferably the cosy sort or the 1930s country house party sort, and my brain went off on one of its side trips and came up with a possible plot for a 1930s Occult Detective Country House Mystery...I really, really will have to cut back on the coffee.
I decide I might as well write a few pages, just to see where it might go and suddenly I am having more writing fun than I have had in ages. If you ever want to make yourself feel tickety boo and full of the joys of spring, fill a respectable English manor house with unsuitable fiancées, mediums, wobbly tables, difficult domestic staff and the occasional reptile. I promise you, it will cheer you up faster than a jug full of Pimms on a hot day.
Research has been great, I have salivated over the most stunning clothes, the fashion at the time was for curvy, but slender women, which means I can only look, because while I can do curvy, slender is a boat which sailed a long time ago and is never going to return to harbour.
I’ve looked at cars as well. Why did the running board go out of style? I’ve given the afore said unsatisfactory fiancée a red 1934 MG Midget, the bounder doesn’t deserve it, but I had to make the sacrifice.
The daughter of the house is Cissie and I think she probably looks very like this young lady, he doesn’t serve her either, but I have plans.
Best of all, a delightful Occult Detective presented herself for my approval and I do very much approve of her. I definitely did not want a Miss Marple or a Miss Silver or a Mrs Bradley and, much as I love him, I didn’t want a Lord Peter Wimsey type, so Mrs Lillicrop was an answer to a prayer. She is tall and elegant, dresses well and is armed with a pince-nez.
I intended the story to run for no more than 7000 words, but I am hitting 10k already and while the end is in sight, I think it may need a little more.
Will I sell it? Who knows, I think it may not be yucky enough for the Occult market, but I don’t really mind, because I have a feeling I will want to write more Mrs Lillicrop stories and one day there may very well be an anthology called “Mrs Lillicrop Investigates”.
Watch this space and check out my Solemn Curfew stories if you need to know where my idea of yucky begins and ends.