by Paula Gail Benson
For my first Stiletto Gang post of 2019, I wrote about how I wish I had not delayed reading two books, To Kill a Mockingbird and The Quiche of Death. In particular, I found that M.C. Beaton’s Agatha Raisin series taught me about writing craft and structure.
Marion Chesney Gibbons (also known as M.C. Beaton and a string of other pseudonyms under which she wrote romance novels) lived a prolific writing life. She began working as a book store clerk. When given an opportunity to write a review for a local paper, in place of a reporter with a relative in the cast, she thought it was a mere substitution, then was handed tickets to another show and became the paper’s critic. When she told her husband she could write better romances, she rose to the challenge and produced them. In each instance, from what might have been dismissed as inconsequential, she made careers.
In preparing this message, I looked at her website: www.mcbeaton.com. It contained notice of her passing, but directly above that was the message her latest book was available for pre-order. In addition, there were announcements about the Agatha Raisin television series being renewed. Along with several mystery series, her biography estimated that she wrote around 100 Regency romances. What an incredible body of work and what a wonderful memorial for a writer, that one’s website would be active with word of forthcoming publications at the time of one’s passing.
This past weekend, I had the opportunity to hear National Sisters in Crime President Lori Rader-Day address our local chapter through Facebook Messenger. She spoke about the inspirations for her most recent work The Lucky One, which came from a conversation with a new neighbor over a fence, and her work in progress, which came from a line in an Agatha Christie biography. Her remarks reminded me that the idea pool is literally all around us. We just have to be open enough to listen to and receive the suggestions.
What are you working on this New Year? How did the idea come to you? Is a new idea swirling nearby, just waiting for you to reach out and grab it?
Best wishes for your happiest reading and writing year ever!