Happy Birthday to Agatha!
Today is the day we (writers, okay, readers too) celebrate Agatha Christie’s birthday. She is the mother-lode of mysteries. Her specialty was placing a murder in a small village that is then solved by collecting clues, noticing personality traits, and inventive thinking. Add a bake shop, knitting club, or a similar bit of savory eatables, perhaps a small business, or hobby, and a collection of people, often women, and you have today’s cozy mystery. Readers, and writers as well, love the puzzle they find in the cozy mystery.
Today with the pandemic hitting the world, many find their companionship in the pages of a real book, or perhaps in the electronic versions found on their hand-held library of choice. (I know, my home doesn’t have enough shelf space for the volumes my Kindle carries.)
Dame Agatha’s first mystery was published in the United States in 1920, and in England in 1921. She died in 1975, but the last first publication of a book she wrote was in 2014. She had written it in 1954 to raise money for a church. In 1974 and 1975 the last cases for Poirot and Miss Marple were published, but they were both written in the 1940s. Her books came out, one to three titles a year! Wow, she was prolific. She also wrote 165 short stories, mostly in collections. Aaaaand, she also wrote six romances as Mary Westmacott.
They were all written before computers, possibly some before typewriters. Okay, not before typewriters. Typewriters were invented in 1868. But that factoid shows me another handicap Agatha Christie had. I found that fact out in less than a minute on my computer. Dame Agatha would have had to get in a car, drive to a library, park the car, walk into the library, walk through aisles of books, pick out one or five, take them to the library table, scan through them until she found that fact, if, in truth, the library just happened to have the book she needed. According to how far she lived from the library — a half day or more spent with the possibility of not finding her fact. Another option: change the sentence so she didn’t even mention a typewriter, or wax eloquently about how her character used a lovely, specially designed pen to write.
So, give thanks to Agatha Christie — and the march of time that provides we eager readers with a Kindle or Nook and instant access to the book of our choice!