Saturday, September 12, 2009

Agatha Christie Week

Agatha Christie Week runs from the 13th to the 20th of September and is a celebration of this extraordinary writer.

So how does a fledgling crime writer, with three publications to her name pay tribute to a legend of crime fiction with over a hundred?

She does so with a smile.

Because that is what I noticed when ever I talked to people in the past week about Agatha Christie and her writings, they all smiled. And not just any old smile, it was always that full on, crinkle around the eyes, gazing off into the middle distance, reminiscing kind of a smile. It was a smile of fondness and warmth. They professed to having read many of Agatha Christie's books. There were the Hercule Poirot fans, and those who preferred Miss Marple, and those who happily read any of her mysteries. A love of the drama of it all was a common theme among those I quizzed, the drama and the very Britishness of the scenes. But wouldn't that become a little tedious I asked? No! always the emphatic reply.

I confess to having not read many of Christie's novels, but despite this, I feel her presence has made a marked impact on my writing and my perception of what good crime fiction is. When I think of Agatha Christie's work, I think of fabulous characterisation and intricate and clever plots. But most of all I think of them as being great crime fiction stories.

For me it was the dramatisations of her work that were my adolescent staples. In fact, as a prelude to writing this tribute I took a trip down memory lane aboard The Orient Express - the version with Albert Finney. And again, I found myself smiling - at the caricature that is Poirot, at the upper class theatrics, the romance of steam travel, and of course, at the plot.

Perhaps what is the biggest nod to the worth of Christie's writing is its longevity. More than thirty years since her death she is still high in the public consciousness, her novels are still being read, film and television adaptations stll playing, and the announcement of a new publication about her, Agatha Christie's Secret Notebooks, creating a buzz.

In another lovely nod to her writing abilities Agatha Christie won two prestigious awards at the Bouchercon World Mystery Convention in 2000. She was voted as the Best Writer of the Century, and was awarded the Best Series of the Century for her Hercule Poirot books.

Agatha Christie still has a huge number of fans and devoted Agathaphiles. She is blogged about, and thanks to our Agatha Christie Reading Challenge hostess has a regular Blog Carnival in her name. Her writing entertains as much today, as it did in her Queen of Crime hey-day.

So this newbie crime fiction writer doffs her hat to Agatha Christie, truly a great writer.


Kerrie said...

Many thanks Vanda.

A blog you might like to follow is Margot Kinberg's Confessions of a Mystery Novelist
Margot is part of the Agatha Christie Blog Tour too - later next week.

Mary McCallum said...

lovely post little fledgling... you know, vanda, i was looking for one of your books in the bookshop the other day to put under the nose of a woman who loves crime fiction and hadn't read you yet to find out we've run out yet again - will re-order! X

Bernadette said...

Very true that Christie has achieved a longevity that speaks to the quality of her writing and craft work. I too mentioned Christie to a few people this week as I prepared my own post and all had nice things to say - I was surprised to find secret Christie lovers everywhere :)

Kiwicraig said...

Great post Vanda. Bit of an 'oh, snap' for me - as I came in this morning, did my Agatha Christie Week post (mainly newsy stuff about the various events being held - not as thoughtful as your post), and then realised you had also blogged on the same topic... haha...

Personally I'm a Poirot fan, though someone was commenting on my blog the other day that apparently the Marple stories "are far superior" - each to their own I guess...

And it is cool that it's a crime writer that is the most published novellist of all time (and you could of cours also make an argument that Shakespeare, the only writer of any kind to outsell her, with his crime and passion-filled plot-driven stories was also a crime/thriller writer, or at least a 'genre' writer too). Take that Kelman and you literary snob cronies, haha... (said tongue and cheek and with a playful grin on my face)...

BooksPlease said...

A lovely post! This is the first time I've visited your blog - thanks to Kerrie's celebration week. Agatha Christie has been a favourite of mine for many years - and I think you've summed up my reaction to her writing so well - I too love its drama and Britishness and its clever plots.

My own blog post is coming near the end of the blog tour and I'm rather daunted by it - what will I be able to add after everyone else's tributes!

Nan said...

I'm a first time visitor who found you from the AC Week celebration. Wonderful posting. She really was a great writer.

Where do I find your books? Book Depository and Amazon didn't have them.:<(

Vanda Symon said...

Thanks for your comments everyone. It's been fun having an Agatha wallow.

Hey, BooksPlease, why do you think I volunteered to go first?!

Nan, has an international service. It's a tough job getting books into the US.

Margot at Joyfully Retired said...

Beautifully written post. As an avid AC fan, I thank you for the tribute.