Wednesday, October 8, 2014
Agatha Christie is the third best selling writer of all time, only exceeded by the Bible and Shakespeare. Her novels have been made into movies and television programs and her Poirot Mysteries have been excellently interpreted by the actor, David Suchet. I watched a program, The Mystery of Agatha Christie, narrated and featuring Suchet, wherein he attempts to trace how she became a writer and where her ideas came from. As a writer and a reader of Agatha Christie I was interested in this.
Suchet was given access to her childhood home, interviewed her grandson and studied photographs, diaries and documents never before seen outside the family. Agatha herself attributed her desire and success at writing to growing up in a happy family. Her family was well-to-do and money doesn't appear to have been a problem. Agatha worked as a pharmacy assistant in a hospital during World War I and thereby gained a knowledge of pharmaceuticals, including poisonous ones. It seems in about half her novels, death was by poisoning. I've always thought that it helps to write about a locale or topic you have some passing familiarity with.
There are many small details and other worthwhile information so watch the forty-five minute program if you are at all an Agatha Christie reader or a mystery writer. There's no saying, though, that her method can be duplicated and even Ms. Christie's venture into romance novels under the pen name Mary Westmacott did not receive the same critical or public favour.