So, as my last post so subtly mentioned, it was my birthday on Thursday. My wonderful husband took me away on a surprise long weekend to Queenstown, a resort town in the South Island of New Zealand. (If this sounds amazingly exotic and extravagent, I probably should tell you that we are lucky enough to live in the South Island of New Zealand, only about six hours drive from Queenstown.)
|Lake Wakatipu, with the Steamship TSS Earnslaw|
|Queenstown in Autumn is AMAZING|
|So many cafes, so little time...|
|The mountains in the background are called The Remarkables!|
Now, being a writer, I'm naturally weird. And being a writer of murder-mysteries, the condition is even worse. So what do you think I was doing while strolling through the gorgeous, autumnal splendour of this picture-perfect area?
I'll tell you. I was thinking: Gee, this would be a great setting for a murder. (No, my husband hadn't just told me I looked fat in my new jeans.)
Actually, this isn't the first time I've had these holiday urges to kill someone (a non-fictional someone, I hasten to add). When I was in Surfer's Paradise in Australia last year, I spent half the time noting the places where a person could be killed. It's a gorgeous beachside communty, which is simultaneously family-friendly and seedy - loads of amusement parks and restaurants, beautiful beaches, dodgy night clubs and way too many casinos. To the horror of my long-suffering husband, I also insisted on sharing these gems with him ("That woman could push her friend off the edge of that viewing platform... Someone could mess with the safety switch on the Superman ride... I don't like the look of the swordfish...").
Anyway, I've toyed with the idea of writing a series about murders in resort towns. Sort of a modern version of Murder on the Nile. It would be fun, and combine armchair-travel with a rollicking good mystery. And of course, the on-location research would be a bonus :)
The thing that's stopped me is the plausibility issue.
Any series of books needs something to tie it together, and generally that's the protagonist. For a series of mysteries, the protagonist is usually the sleuth: either a professional detective or an amateur sleuth. But what are the odds of the sleuth being in all those resort communities at the time a murderis committed? Sure, if s/he was a police officer and worked in Surfers Paradise, that makes sense. But how do you make the crossover? Will the reader believe that the detective goes on her annual vacation to another resort town, and just happens to stumble on another resort-town murder? Maybe you could get away with that once (and I'm not even sure you could) but certainly not twice. It would strain the credulity of any reader.
So, perhaps not a professional detective: then I started thinking about a jet-setting amateur sleuth. That would explain why she's in so many resort towns. But again, what are the odds of her always being around when a murder happens? It might have been OK back in Miss Marple's day, but the modern reader is more sophisticated and needs to have some plausibility.
So then I got really lateral (some might say desperate), and came up with a modern jet-setter who was ALSO a detective-for-hire. But why would local police send for this person, I wondered? He would have to have some very special skill that no one else possessed, locally. OK, how about this: he's an Aspergers syndrome sufferer, with a savant-like genius for languages. This means he can fluently speak any number of languages, making him ideal for interviewing tourists witnesses from all corners of the globe. So when the resort town police have witnesses, victims and suspects from all over the globe, they send for my guy.
Hmm. I guess it solved some problems. But it also added more, such as writing a convincing Aspergers syndrome character, and explaining why this person was also an independently wealthy jet-setting detective. And I thought, would I read this book if I found it on a shelf in the bookstore - or does it just seem like it's trying too hard? Sadly, I concluded the latter. Sigh.
Anyway, if you have come up with a compelling and convincing way of tying together a series of resort town murder novels - let me know when they come out in stores! I will be first in line to buy them!