Golden Age crime fiction fan and author Vicki Goldie talks to me about how this seminal era shaped her work!
Tell me about how you came to define your writing style. What drew you towards crime fiction?
I grew up reading Agatha Christie, she was my mother’s favourite and then I progressed to the other golden age authors especially Dorothy L Sayers. I then came across a local Dorset writer Gladys Mitchel in the 1980s. They all influenced me and made me a little obsessed with Art Deco and that period in time. Just as I was thinking about trying some more writing I met Peter James. He was very generous with his advice and he has greatly influenced my style and form of my books.
How has your time working for libraries influenced your writing?
My job was to organise author events and promote libraries to the reading public. So over nearly twenty years I met an awful lot of authors and quizzed them on writing. We also ran writing workshops and that was fantastic help. Of course, I also read a huge number of books! Libraries are invaluable for research and also save a considerable amount of money though borrowing their books for free.
Please tell me about Blind Witness. What defines your writing style?
Blind Witness is book one of a series of books featuring Alasdair Charters and his wife Melissa. Alasdair is a blind World War 1 veteran. I have been married to a blind physiotherapist for over 40 years and I wanted to examine the prejudices that surrounded disability then, and found they still persist today. His wife is an aristocrat but is also a socialist, and I have some fun with that. The story line is pure golden age, a country house weekend party where a murder occurs. Rather than gritty crime it is more fun, although as Alasdair has PTSD, which of course was not understood then, but can be very serious.
I am part of a writers’ circle in the New Forest and they have been very helpful in helping me define my style and remove bad habits.
Are there any particular mediums or narrative troupes you like to use in your writing and why?
I am beginning each book with a flash back to the war. This was a great suggestion from the excellent Kate Rhodes who came down a few years ago and did an event and a workshop at Westbourne Library.
I took the Jericho Writers’ writing course and followed all his advice. It made me analyse the book and it is amazing to find themes in your drafts that you were unaware of when writing. Having found them it is good to develop them. It makes the book richer.
What do you enjoy reading and how does this influence your writing?
I do read a huge amount of crime both modern and old fashioned. I love discovering new authors especially ones that have been out of print for years. All books have something to teach you as a writer. I love reading Santa Montefiore, it is important to vary your genres.
If you could collaborate with anyone, living or dead, on a writing project, who would it be and why?
Well sadly the fantastic Sophie Hannah is already doing this with Agatha Christie to great success! Jill Paton Walsh is writing Lord Peter Wimsey and they are super too. So not someone dead I think. As for someone living I am not sure I am at that level of expertise yet!
Have you got any exciting new plans or projects coming up that you’d like to share with me?
I am completing my second book in the series called Blind Pool, it is set in the Somerset Levels and a house party are caught up in the floods and cut off and then murders begin to happen. I am also researching book three, which will be set in the south of France.
Are there any new books or writers that you are looking forward to going forward?
Far too many to mention, but I do buy Peter James, Christopher Fowler, Charles Todd and of course Sophie Hannah the day they come out. I am a huge fan of Louise Penny and her new novel is out on 27th November.
Anything you’d like to add?
I would say that without reading it would be impossible to be a writer. And without libraries it would be impossible to read the amount necessary to achieve that goal.
Many thanks for answering my questions Vicki- it’s great to meet another Golden Age fan and a lover of Peter James’ work!