I'm delighted to announce that today we have a guest post from famous author Kathleen Davenport, writer of the Agnes Merryweather mysteries. Over to Kathleen.
My Life Story
For some unfathomable reason, my publisher, Haphazard Manor Press, has asked me to write a brief story of my writing life, for the benefit of my readers on this site. So, without further ado, here goes...
I knew that I wanted to be a crime writer from the moment I read my first Agatha Christie story, The Body in the Library, at the age of fourteen. I fell in love with both the genre and the writer. Mrs Christie was still alive back then, and I wrote to her via her publisher and received a lovely letter in return. A letter in which she encouraged me to follow my dream, whilst pointing out that it would be hard work and that the rewards, especially in the early years as I built up a body (ha!) of work, would not be great. Is it any wonder I became a life-long fan of that great lady?
I wrote my first crime story, Hacked to Death, at the age of fifteen and, with all the exuberance and arrogance of youth, sent it off directly to a publisher. To their credit, along with my manuscript and the rejection slip they returned to me some months later, they included a letter saying that, whilst I had a good story and narrative voice, I should concentrate on my craft and on improving my writing skills. With this encouragement, I put the manuscript away in a drawer and forgot about it.
I married in my twenties, but it was clear from the start that Geoffrey and I were unsuited to one another. He loved hill walking and mountaineering, I got vertigo standing on the front door step. I loved flower arranging, he was allergic to pollen. He loved extreme sports but would never tackle the extreme pile of ironing. An amicable divorce followed several years later.
Needing a means to support myself, I took a job as a secretary and started writing again in my spare time. Agnes Merryweather, the Church of England vicar who is my most popular sleuth, arrived in my head after several disastrous attempts to write romance. Given my own romantic history, it is hardly surprising that I failed to interest agents or publishers in my tales though, to this day, it still amazes me that I ever thought I could write the next great love story. Thankfully, I won't ever have to try that again. Agnes has been my route to the top of the Bestseller charts, and my fans clamour for more.
Such has been the success of my little mysteries that, over recent years I have had to employ a personal assistant who also undertakes a lot of the research on my behalf. The first few were dismal — uneducated, barely literate young gals who thought 'Cyanide' was the name of a boy band — until, about to throw up my hands in despair at the current state of the English education system, Verity Long came to work for me. Intelligent outspoken, and far too inquisitive for her own good, Verity is an excellent researcher and fits in well with my, shall we say, idiosyncratic writing schedule.
Readers will, I hope, be pleased to know that the twenty-fifth Agnes Merryweather book, Murder in Plane Sight, about a death at the local aerodrome, will be published this April.
Many thanks to Mrs Davenport for taking time out from her busy schedule to join us. I hope you enjoyed her post as much as I did.