Before moving to Amsterdam, I knew very little about the restitution of artwork stolen by the Nazis during World War Two, a topic that plays a central role in my novel, The Lover’s Portrait: An Art Mystery. Sure, I’d read about controversial cases in newspapers and wondered why museums didn’t hand over the artwork immediately when legitimate claimants appeared on the scene, but also why it took the relative of the legal owner so long to submit a claim.
Someone recently asked me, “What is ‘historical fiction’?” I never realized it was a confusing phrase until I really thought about it and concluded that it sounds like an oxymoron. Here, I will do my best to explain historical fiction and the process that goes into writing it.
The first mysteries I fell in love with were Agatha Christie’s novels. I was in middle school and had recently been upgraded to my brother’s old room. Among the items he had left behind were a substantial collection of worn paperbacks. I spent hours lying on the plush navy carpet devouring The A.B.C. Murders, And Then There Were None, and Murder on the Orient Express, among others.
From as early as the Charles Dickens of the 19th Century to the modern day Jeffrey Archer, mystery writers are swimming well in the mainstream.
Today these writers can choose any direction they please because the market is increasing. No matter which era you find yourself in it is clearly evident that people love the roller coaster thrill of mysteries. It is a safe adventure that allows them to visit exotic or interesting places. They get to experience the dark side of some characters but they take comfort in knowing that justice prevails in the end. The Agatha Christie, Ruth Rendell, Dan Brown, James Patterson, Stephen King and Jodi Picoult (my favourite mystery authors) allow us to relate to their characters. Through their expertly woven words, the reader is given a platform to play amateur detective and be part of the solution. Cool hey? This puts them on the winning team that captures the bad guys and helps to right the wrongs. Now who doesn’t want to be part of that team?
One of the most haunting images of war around the globe is that of children holding semi-automatic weapons. In the United States, these images shock a belief system. Children should be in nurturing home environments, enjoying the company of friends after school, taking clarinet lessons, playing softball. They should be allowed to be kids and dream.
Research for a fictional novel can be daunting. However, before I started writing my debut novel Raging Falcon, I was already intimately familiar with the subject matter. But, in the spirit of originality, I endeavored to create a twist on the traditional fictional tropes one encounters in Ian Fleming’s James Bond series. Readers of this type of action adventure story are familiar with the dashing hero who saves the world, and at the end always gets the girl-all the while sipping martinis, ‘shaken not stirred’.
‘Here’s my MTW review of Gavin Mills‘ adrenaline-rush of a thriller: Dup Departs…’
‘If you like thrillers involving gangsters, guns, drugs, corruption and action
this book is for you…’
These are comments on Dup Departs by two great writers for Mystery Thriller Week and I am blown away.
I am so glad people like Dup – because a lot of Dup is me, or was me …or something like that. But that’s not the point. Dup is like most anybody, just doing his best to lead an uncomplicated life and provide for his family. And things are not easy… There comes that time when one starts thinking whether he keeps pressing on or finds other cheese (sorry – had to borrow). Haven’t we all gone through that at some time? Is our life worth anything, are we doing what we love, …or are we missing out on life?