November 29, 2008

Recently I returned to work on my MYSTERY AT SULPHUR SPRINGS, a “cosy” (god, I hate that word), which I’m considering publishing under a woman’s pseudonym. It’s about an 82-year-old woman who returns after 70 years to a spa where she inadvertently became involved in a murder at age 12. Here she will discover what really happened. Because of the split narrative, I’ve had trouble finding a suitable voice for both parts. The opening is dramatically Shakespearean, with ghostly hauntings and spirituous visitations not unlike the opening scene of HAMLET, as the 82-year old Violet struggles with her memory of past events that will compel her to return to the spa. But the real-time past sections felt too childlike, almost like a Nancy Drew mystery. Writing YA is just not in my scope. I struggled so much that I nearly put it aside again. It was another Shakespeare play, via a Verdi opera, that helped me crack the code. Yesterday I bought a live recording of Callas’s MACBETH. The introductory essay describes how, in the sleepwalking arias, Callas brings a childlike simplicity to the calculatingly evil Lady Macbeth. It was this duality that helped me realize what I needed to do. In my narrative, the 12-year-old Violet is a well-behaved girl who unwittingly unleashes forces of evil when she substitutes a note hidden in a hole in a wall. While Violet’s consciousness is innocent, the consequences of her actions are not. It’s precisely this duality I need to bring out in the earlier narrative voice.

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