It all started two decades ago as a writing assignment for English class – the objective was to write a short story and incorporate vocabulary words from a list provided by the teacher. By then I was an avid mystery reader, having discovered the works of Agatha Christie at an early age, so there had been no doubt in my mind that the story I was going to write was going to be a mystery. Also at this time of my life I was quite obsessed with Phantom of the Opera and had decided to “borrow” some ideas from that story (though specifically, the ideas were inspired by Phantom, Susan Kay’s novel about the life story of Erik, The Phantom of the Opera). The short story that came forth from those inspirations was The Golden Dagger Inn Mystery, a story of betrayal, murder and revenge set in a luxurious Victorian hotel alleged to be haunted by an evil spirit. I had received a decent grade for that story, with my teacher commending me for writing such an interesting story. I put the (handwritten) short story in a folder and filed it away with the rest of the stories I had written for that class.
Fast forward a few months, and I participated in a summer course on literary arts at a local college, and the final assignment was to write a one-act play that had to have one set location. After putting some thought into what I was going to write, I decided to adapt The Golden Dagger Inn Mystery for this assignment, which resulted in the one-act play The Tragedy at the Old Silent. That same summer I had the idea to expand the short story into a full length novel, most of which I had typed out on my word processor (which kinda shows how long ago this all happened). That first novel retained the short story’s title, and while I had written about twenty-odd chapters, that novel is and remains unfinished, though meticulous I was (and still am), I had outlined the final few chapters, and plotted out the denouement. I recently re-read that first attempt at novel-writing and am amazed at how melodramatic the dialogue was (though I suppose the fact that around the same time I had started to watch the soap opera General Hospital explains that).
Several years of literary inactivity followed – high school and college kept me busy, though during my senior year at Boston University, I took a Detective Fiction course, which prompted me to start scribbling down musings on the margins of my class notes, and essentially reawakened my writing spirit. Of course, by then I was now writing via computer, though I still had still some files on the word processor. While I had several (hand written) short stories from which to start, I felt compelled to stick with The Golden Dagger Inn Mystery and the effort I had put in that unfinished novel. My initial compulsion was to work on completing that novel, but I found my thoughts straying on the back story of its characters and the situations that lead to the events that occur in the initial story.
At the time (roughly a decade ago), it was to be a trilogy of novels, set in the Interwar England, a trio of mysteries in the Golden Age style. The original idea was to have these stories set in the same location, which I had situated in the West Country at a sprawling estate and its surrounding village, a fictional place called Ricepaige. In the decade since I restarted my writing endeavors, this series has grown to be a multiple book saga, as plotting out the back story for the situations and characters inspired and prompted me to explore the motivations and back story of the ancestors of the main series’ characters.
As it stands now, the saga is structured to be a series in three parts, with set in a different time period (specifically in the 19th, 20th and 21st centuries) with its own detective, but essentially set in and around Ricepaige. Each book is planned to be a stand-alone tale, though there will be the inevitable intertwining of characters and storylines throughout the series and the saga as a whole. Well, at least that’s the plan. I have tentatively outlined the entire saga (meaning I’ve thought up of all the book titles), and at the moment, I am focusing on the first series of the Saga, entitled Tainted Blood, set in the mid-Victorian era, of which there will be fourteen novels within that first series.
Of course this is all a huge work in progress, and the details outlined in this entry are subject to change. To say this is an ambitious undertaking is a gross understatement, but one I plan on seeing through till publication.
And it all started with one simple short story…