I must say that after my strenuous efforts to complete the writing month challenge, and surpassing my expectations, I have struggled a little to maintain the momentum. I guess it’s natural to need a second wind, and I feel as if I’m plodding at the moment.
I was watching TV as I did the ironing tonight, and as usual watched something which didn’t need much concentration; it was a Hercules Poirot mystery with David Suchet as the Belgian detective and set in a country house of a rich and eccentric man. ‘Hercules Poirot’s Christmas’ takes place in a mansion with the full array of staff, butler, maids and footmen. There’s a lot of comings and goings down long corridors and doors opening and closing, drinks before dinner, and people with not much to do but depend on the elderly tyrant, their father.
My next Radwinter story, Winterdyke, is also set in a mansion, with a family of strange individuals controlled by the wealthy head of the family. There are plenty of strange goings on, of course, but the mystery happened over a hundred years ago in 1903.
Here is an excerpt – rather rough and ready, where Thomas Radwinter is going down to dinner on the first evening he’s at the house, Athelmond Grange:
As I got dressed for dinner (I’ve never done that before – I don’t mean that I sometimes sit naked or in my pyjamas, I mean I’ve never formally dressed as if I was going out and then had dinner in my own home!) I’d been told when arrangements were being made… so I’d brought my posh suit – and waistcoat too, and a selection of ties… I hope I’d brought the correct items…)
As I got dressed I wondered how many people would be at the table tonight… would it be just the family? Would the people I’d met at lunch be there… were there others I didn’t know? It was a bit like being in a hotel. I’d gone to a wedding once with my first wife and we’d stayed in the hotel with other wedding guests, and it was a bit strange to go down to breakfast and see people you’d been introduced to in among a load of strangers. My first wife was very unfriendly and suspicious of people she didn’t knew, so we crept like mice to an empty out-of-the-way table, and waiters kept forgetting us, and people she knew kept coming over to be friendly… it was ghastly… If it happened again with me and Kylie, we’d want to sit and chat and be friendly, join others at their table, be sociable… My first wife wasn’t just unsociable, she was antisocial!
There was a knock on my door and I knew it would be Audrey, except it wasn’t, it was Chris. He asked if he could show me down to where we would meet for drinks. It was friendly, but couldn’t someone have said earlier when telling me dinner was at 7:30, ‘but we meet at 7:15 for drinks’? Couldn’t someone have said then, ‘oh the dining room is such-a-place’? I didn’t need to be guided everywhere – unless they wanted to know where I was and I wasn’t wandering around like a child who might be up to mischief…
I was ready and cheerfully thanked Chris and said how kind, as if it wasn’t one more thing to add to my List of Odd. I took a clean hankie, had a last brush of my hair and shut my bedroom door.
“There’s a key on the inside if you should wish to lock it,” Chris remarked… I was in someone’s home, albeit a massive posh one, not a hotel, why might I wish to lock my door?
“Oh, ok, if you think so,” and I did just that as if everyone always locked their bedroom doors in their own home! Since most of my valuables, eg my computers were in the library and all secure (I hoped) I only had some loose change and my wallet which had a few business cards was in my inside pocket… but it was clearly expected that I should lock my bedroom… and yet the door to the library where I worked was left ajar…
If you haven’t yet read any of my Radwinter books, here is a link:
This book will be the first which is not in an ordinary domestic setting, in an ordinary small town, with ordinary mysteries… I hope t works!