Friday, June 17, 2022

Summer Plans and Agatha Christie

I've lost track of my posting schedule, but I'm sure I missed last Friday. Mid-week I went down to New York City to do an interview for a documentary. That was fun. But the documentary won't be out until 2023, and I wasn't told I could talk about it. Since I could end up being left out of the final cut, I will wait to share the details.

Last weekend, I attended the Maine Crime Wave. I had intended to drive because there is no train or plane that would have taken me directly from Albany to Portland. But as it happened, the production company that asked me to come down to NYC for the interview flew me to Portland for the festival. Then I flew back to NYC and took the train back to Albany.

The festival was on the campus of University of Southern Maine. It was a wonderful gathering with great panels and guests of honor. Lovely weather. Highly recommended. 

But I was glad to get home without delays along the way. Penelope, the cat, was pleased to see me because -- although she'd had a sitter who came in twice a day -- she was in the house alone. Fergus, my bouncing boy, had spent the week boarding with the owner of his doggie daycare. We have been getting back to our regular routine this week as I try to finish an article for a special issue of a journal. The article is about Gothic literature, Edgar Allan Poe, and "haunting" in works by several African American mystery/detective writers. I'm aiming to have that out the door this weekend. 

Then I'm going to start my summer projects with fall in mind. I have a sabbatical coming up in this fall. I intend to savor every minute of it, and try to actually get some writing done. In the lead-up, I need to finish my book about gangster movies and get it polished and out to my publisher by the end of August. 

Then in September . . . a coincidence that Agatha Christie came up in the posts this week. I'm about to settle into a couple of months of reading/re-reading her novels and short stories. I'm scheduled to do a presentation during the International Agatha Christie Festival in September and seeing my travel agent next week.

I was first invited to present in 2020. Then came the pandemic. Last year, I was invited again and decided to wait one more year. This year, I want to go to Torquay and deliver my talk in person. I love England. My first Lizzie Stuart novel is set in Cornwall. That first book, Death's Favorite Child, was my tip of the hat to Dame Agatha. The victim is a young housekeeper in a private hotel. My sleuth and her best friend, a travel writer, are guests there. A friend had invited me to meet her for a week's vacation in St. Ives, and I began writing the book during that delightful week. 

My festival presentation will have an observation or two about Christie's 1939 And Then There Were None. I've already shared my thoughts about that novel in Out of the Woodpile, my book about black characters in crime fiction. Christie's plot itself is one that other mystery writers would love to pull off with such finesse. That's why every writer of crime fiction should read Christie's books and short stories. She was not only prolific, she has influenced us all. 

Personally, I also love the movies. My favorite is Death on the Nile  -- gorgeous photography and great cast. After I get my article done, I'm going to make a bowl of popcorn and watch it again. What better way to launch my summer with Agatha.


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