What I Don’t Know

I’m the sort of person who knows a little bit about a lot of things – except when it comes to authors.

Especially the author who suddenly appears, like fog, (hey!  that wasn’t there five minutes ago!) and they are quite successful to boot.  Actually, what if they’ve been around  more than fifty years? That’s when I can’t understand how I could have been reading as much as I have all this time, and not been aware of them or their work.  I feel like I’ve missed out somehow.  Missed out on following their career and getting to know them, like I have others.

Here’s a perfect example.  P. D. James.  She’s written a lot of mystery books, about nineteen, plus three non-fiction, as well as other works.  She’s received year after year of praise since her first publication back in 1962 for COVER HER FACE.  She kept publishing until 2009, acquiring numerous awards throughout the decades.  She died three days ago, and because of that, she’s suddenly on my radar.

Should I even admit that? 

I realize it’s impossible to know every single writer, yet I’m always flummoxed when someone of this literary stature with their decades old career – is/was unknown to me.  So, I’m left standing in front of my TV open mouthed and dumbfounded, finally hearing about them and/or their work post mortem.  Granted, she’s British, and maybe I could say that’s why, but come on, that’s weak, isn’t it?  It’s a doubtful excuse since many of her books were turned into either a TV series or a show here in the U.S.

Maybe I have heard of her and just forgot.  It was mentioned her style of writing could be called “cozy,” or as they spelled it, “cosy.”  It really doesn’t matter.  What matters most, at least at this point is, I also found out she wrote a book called Talking About Detective Fiction. (2009)

Happy, happy, joy, joy!

Why the happy?  Because, anyone intent on writing mysteries – or even suspense, as I’m attempting, should buy this book and here’s why.  The synopsis on Amazon says:

“P. D. James, the undisputed queen of mystery, gives us an intriguing, inspiring and idiosyncratic look at the genre she has spent her life perfecting.
 
Examining mystery from top to bottom, beginning with such classics as Charles Dickens’s Bleak House and Wilkie Collins’s The Woman in White, and then looking at such contemporary masters as Colin Dexter and Henning Mankell, P. D. James goes right to the heart of the genre. Along the way she traces the lives and writing styles of Arthur Conan Doyle, Agatha Christie, Dashiell Hammett, and many more. Here is P.D. James discussing detective fiction as social history, explaining its stylistic components, revealing her own writing process, and commenting on the recent resurgence of detective fiction in modern culture. It is a must have for the mystery connoisseur and casual fan alike.”  (Amazon, 2014)

Much like Stephen King’s books ON WRITING and his other, “SECRET WINDOWS: ESSAYS AND FICTION ON THE CRAFT OF WRITING (which I’m currently waiting to arrive on my doorstep), I feel her book about “detective fiction” or the mystery genre, would be like peeking over her shoulder and getting an insider’s glimpse into how she produced her work.  What her techniques and/or secrets might have been. I’ve bolded areas I personally thought made it a must have, as well as the blurb…, “must have for the mystery connoisseur.”

Therefore.  Must have it.  Onto the Christmas wish list it goes.

Who have you discovered lately?

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