School Holiday Sleuth – Idyll Interrupted. The Making of a Mystery. 

I knew I wasn’t going to get away this summer. Family commitments, jobs that needed doing, rugby training, and a host of other responsibilities made any kind of holiday unrealistic. So I decided to do something completely different with my time and write a crime fiction murder mystery blog to be published in instalments and to last over the whole holiday. Did I think it would be easy? No, definitely not.  Did I think it would be quite as consuming as it turned out to be? No. Basically I have lived and breathed the story from beginning to end!

As a secondary SBM I have a full time contract so, for most of the six weeks, I was still going to have the day job. Undeterred, I waded in on the Friday we broke up, hammered out the first chapter and published it without, I admit, giving it as much thought as I should have done. Mistake number one. Hindsight is a wonderful thing because it was only then I realised that whatever I wrote each week was set in stone. I couldn’t go back and tweak it or add a bit more detail. I had to use what I had already written.

Luckily (and it was luck) I was able to work out a way for one of my group of characters to have committed the crime so I just kept going.

Barry helpfully suggested that we put an ‘incident board’ up to help me work out the story so we spent a very happy day shopping for stationery and putting it up. 

The incident board that is still full of ideas that didn’t make it into the final story. 

I printed some photographs from the internet of faces that I felt matched the characters and got to know them. That was mistake number two. For example, how could I possibly send Robert to prison for the rest of his life? He had such a friendly face. I don’t know how Agatha Christie managed it and she was sending her characters to the gallows!

I actually didn’t decide ‘who-dunnit’ until I was writing Chapter 5. Indra was a front runner for a long time but I couldn’t work out why she would have done it. The ‘Jeremy’ angle became a much bigger aspect of the story than I had originally planned and Indra was only on the periphery of that story (albeit an important part it turned out!)

Barry became fun to write about as a comedic element of the proceedings. In reality, he is an intelligent man but he has a habit of saying really dumb things. Here are some real life examples – you judge.

While unpacking shopping; Him: “This parsley doesn’t look right and it smells funny.” Me: “That’s because it’s coriander”

Him: “What’s the name of that new food – begins with K?” Me: “Quinoa – it starts with Q.”

I guess I should say in his defence he is a numbers man – not much use when you’re trying to solve a murder (but damn handy when you are trying to get your head around high level Finance strategy.)

The most unexpected benefit to come out of the writing is that my whole family have been involved. Both those still living at home and those that have abandoned their mother to make their own way in the world. Everyone had a view. JP, who is 16, was especially helpful in showing me how a person would wield a knife but we had to work hard to persuade him that stabbing his Father wasn’t actually needed!

Pie and his family in Manchester were excellent encouragement and frank about what they thought of my characterisations! Jon, at 13, our technical wizard, made the news report look real which was filmed in Birmingham by MJ, our future Sophie Raworth.

And Jack? He has kept me on the ground by not finding the time to even look at it, reminding me that the point of doing this was entirely for my own enjoyment over the summer.

So, I’d like to thank everyone who has enjoyed it with me. During the times when I thought it would never coherently come together I have been encouraged to keep going by the wonderful comments I’ve received. I’ve learned a lot about writing, blogging, golf equipment and Cornwall. I’ve had some sleepless nights wondering how I’m ever going to sort it out but, in true SBM fashion, I found a solution in the end.

The Murder weapon!

What’s next? I’m going to leave ‘Idyll Interrupted’ out there for a few weeks and then I’m going to put it all together (maybe with a few very small tweaks that will just tidy it up for my own peace of mind) and look into whether I can get it converted into an ebook, (after all,  I still need to fund that MUGA).

I’ve enjoyed the process so much that I’m hoping Anna and Barry will be back soon with another mystery to solve. I’d love some feedback to help me with the next story. Elements you liked and parts you didn’t. Shocking grammar that you noticed (I know I started off a bit ropey) and whether you actually think it will stand up as an ebook? Please tell it like it is using the comments box below. And if you know anyone in the publishing industry…?

Wherever the story goes in the future, thank you so much, you early adopters, for all your support this summer.


My family thought this was taking it too far…

If you’ve enjoyed this, please consider purchasing the whole book, search “Idyll Interrupted” on Amazon. Available in paperback and on Kindle. All royalties go to my school funds. Thank you.

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