Wednesday, November 09, 2022

A crime writer's take on travelling

 When my computer alerted me today that it was my week to post on Type M, I realized I had skipped my last Wednesday post. I doubt anyone noticed, because we have so many authors posting on different days, but I apologize anyway. I was galavanting around Italy on the first real travelling holiday I've had since Covid hit. In-person book events aren't the only thing that the pandemic has quashed. How wonderful it was to be exploring new places and meeting new friends again!

But this is a blog about writers and writing, not holidaying. Can I connect them? I did wonder, as I contemplated the stunning views of the Amalfi coast and the Island of Capri, whether I could work this trip into a book somehow. Partly, I confess, for the tax write-off, but mostly to relive the experiences and share them with readers. I've really enjoyed travelling all over Canada for the Amanda Doucette series and hope that readers felt they explored Canada along with me. But trying to transplant Inspector Green to Italy seemed a stretch. Law enforcement officials don't operate outside their jurisdiction, so if Green stumbled upon a possible murder on the Amalfi coast, say, he would have to hand it over to the local authorities, and if he continued to meddle, it would be for purely personal reasons, which would make him more of an amateur sleuth than a professional investigator. 

Roman law enforcement

Italy is a very densely populated country. There are few remote areas where Green could reasonably become involved before the national CID team arrived to take over. The Amalfi coast has some stunning wilderness trails and I did hike one of the more well-known of these, called "The Path of the Gods". It crossed my mind several times that it would be an easy place to dispose of an unwanted person. An irritating mother-in-law who stirred up trouble within the family, for example, or a tour group in which tensions and conflicts boil over. A stumble at the edge of the cliff or a boulder crashing down from above would be so simple to set up. That's the way a crime writer's mind works; we see opportunities for murder and for concealing bodies everywhere. But I try to stick to realism and I research my stories thoroughly, so it would be very difficult to create a set of circumstances where Green would realistically investigate, and if he did, it would not be a classic investigation. I would also have to learn a lot about Italian law and police commend structure.

Lost in the fog
Getting Amanda embroiled in a murder in Italy would be much easier. She is already an amateur sleuth, and with her penchant for rushing to the rescue, I could easily give her a reason for getting involved. Because I have already walked the Path of the Gods, I wouldn't have to research another location, and Amanda would know as little about Italian law and policing as I do. I hope the writer's best friend –Google  – could fill in the necessary gaps.

The Path of the Gods

But both these scenarios represent a significant deviation from the two series, and I'm not sure how successful they would be. It may be better to write about a completely different set of characters rather than trying to shoehorn one of my series into the Italian landscape. So don't be surprised if a short story surfaces in which a body is found at the base of a cliff, or a blood-curdling scream is heard by a group of hikers on a damp and foggy morning...

Travelling is always fun, but even more so when a writer's imagination is along for the ride.


Mar Preston said...

Welcome home to Good Grey Ottawa. You were having too much fun and I was green with envy.

Anonymous said...

I’m always interested in why mother-in-law is in a target group. Just like those horrid evil commercials for ‘A Place for Mom!’ No irritating father-in-law?