In GAD We Trust – Episode 29: Writing The Red Death Murders (2022)

All good things come to an end, and so does my podcast; started in the first UK lockdown and hard to justify now that lockdowns are well and truly over, In GAD We Trust’s 30th episode (number 29, but don’t forget that bonus run through the Jonathan Creek canon) is going out in a blaze of self-promotion.

See, I self-published my debut novel last month, and thought the perspective of a new author on how a decade’s worth of ideas gets concentrated into a narrative might be interesting — the advantage of being new to this game coming in having written only one book and so being, perhaps, clearer on the key points which informed the book itself.

So, starting in 2001 and bringing us all the way up to 2022, I give you The Story of The Red Death Murders, laying out the key developments and the ideas that lurked hidden in the back of my mind for 25 years (in one case…) before coming to light when needed. Apologies, my voice is a little scratchy and the edit’s a bit rougher because I’ve had a cold for the last week and kept hoping it would clear up, so this is a touch last-minute, but I hope there’s enough in here for it to be more than the blatant piece of advertising it so obviously is.

Onwards!

One final thanks to Jonny Berliner for my theme, to all the guests who gave of their time and expertise freely, and to you at home, on buses, or sneaking a quick cigarette at work for listening along. A podcast without an audience is an all-too-common thing these days, and it’s been a real joy to share these discussions with you and see the discussions which have resulted.

And so, listener, farewell to In GAD We Trust! I thank you for your past constancy, and can but hope that some return has been made in the shape of that distraction from the worries of life and stimulating change of thought which can only be found in the fairy kingdom of getting far too nerdy about detective stories.

21 thoughts on “In GAD We Trust – Episode 29: Writing The Red Death Murders (2022)

  1. Long-time listener, first-time commenter, as it were.

    Greatly looking forward to reading the book, first of all. It was lovely to have this walkthrough of how and where your ideas came together because, as you rightly say, I’m sure that becomes increasingly difficult to recall and articulate as time goes by.

    Secondly, I’m gutted that the podcast is finishing! I’ll remain faithfully subscribed on the off chance that you ever find yourself, not to mention some of your guests, with the time and inclination on your hands once more. You’ve had some smashing interviews and some absolutely delightful conversations, and it’s been a joy to listen. Thanks for all the time you’ve put into it, and my thanks too to your guests and occasional co-hosts for what rapidly became one of my favourite podcasts. I particularly enjoyed the Spoiler Warning episodes, just listening to you chat away about books that most of us know and love, flaws and all!

    The very best of luck with the book, and I’ll cross my fingers that it proves the first of many.

    Like

    • Thank-you, Darcy, I appreciate the kind words.

      I’ve been blown away by the willingness of so many people in this sphere to give of their time and expertise, and it’s been a real joy to talk to the likes of Mark Aldridge, Martin Edwards, and Tony Medawar about projects that are obviously very dear to them. I’ll miss getting to nerd out in quite the same way, but — as you suggest — never say never. Maybe it’s just the changing of the seasons making me feel the need to move on!

      And, some good news at least: Spoiler Warnings will continue for the time being. Moira, Brad, and I have the three Christies voted on earlier in the year to work through, and then we’ll review at the end of 2022 and see/how to continue from there.

      As to more books…first I need to resolve the muddle I’m in on draft 1 of Book 2…then we’ll see…!

      Like

  2. Though it’s disappointing that such a great run is coming to an end, this is a great way to do so–I know I’ve never looked forward to an episode more than this one. And fantastic news, not only about Spoiler Alerts continuing, but also about the start of Book 2. Very much looking forward to both!

    Like

    • The Spoiler Warnings I can promise; Moira, Brad, and I will be discussing Five little Pigs, a.k.a. Murder in Retrospect and I’ll be posting that here probably around the middle of April.

      Book 2…well, perhaps I was a little eager in promoting the start of that 😄 Time will tell.

      Like

  3. A really interesting listen, Jim. Wading through the revisions to my own novel, I really did connect with so much that you were saying. This is the kind of insight into the creative process that I wish we could have gotten from Carr, Christie and others. Their notebooks are one thing, of course, but actually being able to hear you discuss the inception of the project through its publication is a really neat thing.

    I should also take a moment to say again what an absolute joy it was to guest on the podcast itself. A real thrill to participate and be a part of the GAD conversation. If you ever have any inclination to start up again, I will be first in line to come aboard!

    Like

    • Nick, it was a pleasure to discuss mysteries nerdily with you — that sweep through the entirety of Jonathan Creek as been a highlight for many people, myself included.

      And, hey, be sure to keep a track of your own influences, because I honestly do think that being ab le to talk about where something has come from is one of the most fascinating discussion it’s possible to have with creative people. The mind works so differently in all of us, and seeing those patterns play out for others is simply fascinating — which is why John Curran’s book about Christie’s notebooks makes such compelling reading.

      Like

  4. Thanks very much for this insight into your thoughts on writing. It was interesting to find out the genesis of the book (which I have now read and enjoyed!).
    I have to confess when you said you thought “where do you get your ideas” was an interesting question and you intended to do a podcast, I was expecting almost the opposite thing – due to my own ideas about getting ideas.
    What I’ve found is that the “waiting for lightning to strike” approach was an obstacle for me. The “spark” doesn’t need to be an interesting one at all, but it can become interesting through being worked on instead. I’m finding an idea to be as simple as “I would like to set something in this place”; not something that needs a lightning strike at all.
    But hey I sure can talk, I haven’t even tried to get anything published yet :p
    In my opinion the most crucial bit of advice you give on the podcast is that if an approach isn’t working for you, try something else. I found most writing advice to only be useful up to a point because they never actually talk about getting ideas or how to develop ideas; until I came across some that mentioned it (one of which was Agatha Christie’s Secret Notebooks!) I assumed that writers must simply know how to find and develop ideas, and that because I had no clue how to do that I was simply not capable of being a writer. A lot of writing advice just seems incompatible with my brain for one reason or another.
    Anyway, that’s enough of me rambling… sad to hear that you intend to discontinue the podcast. If by any chance another episode did appear at some point I would be delighted, and that’s all I’ll say. Thanks very much for the episodes that you made so far, they have been a joy to listen to.

    Like

    • The “spark” can lay dormant for a while, too, don’t forget — I thought I had an idea for a book in 2011 and I did…but the idea I had wasn’t for the book I tried writing in 2011! When it joins up and you know you’re onto something…man, that’s wonderful.

      Like

      • Yes, that must be a great feeling 🙂 …but that’s almost the opposite of what I mean. I don’t want to write my story in 10 years, or 20 years, or whenever the particular pieces slot together. Call me impatient, but I want to write it now. I think finding ideas is a skill that can be worked at like anything else, it’s just one that hardly anyone bothers to teach. Maybe it comes naturally to most writers, who knows. It seems to take a lot of effort for me.

        Like

        • Well, that’s in part why I told the story of my first, aborted attempt at a novel — I wanted to write one then but the time wasn’t right. I can’t say it’s a universal experience, of course, but waiting rather than forcing the issue definitely turned out to be the better course in my case. Patience, grasshopper…

          Like

  5. Great case study on the creative process, which could be useful for many purposes, including training scientists. I especially liked the imagery/metaphor of how stars get formed. Thanks for sharing your experiences and thoughts.

    Like many others, I was bummed by the announcement at the very end of the episode that this will be the final episode of the podcast. It was great while it lasted. Thanks for that, too.

    Like

    • Thank-you; the star metaphor came to me in the moment, and I rather liked it — stuff can drift around for years before you know it’s useful, I think the trick is not to force it…which makes someone who is able to put out 20 books in 20 years all the more impressive; the reservoirs of ideas these people must have!

      I’m very touched to think that people will miss IGWT, too; it’s been fun, and were I a more pecuniary-minded perso I might have tried to make some money off it and feel compelled to continue. As it is, it’s been a huge amount of fun and I’d like it to remain a happy memory rather than become something I drag out just because I have bills to pay — people deserve better than that.

      Like

  6. So what’s the Christie poisoning where you think you have a better solution? And given you didn’t end up using it in the book what is it? I understand though if you want to keep it secret in case you do figure a way of using it in a future work.

    Like

  7. Great that you recorded the fascinating way all those strands came together—now I’ll always think of westerns when I see a castle and vice versa. If the series had to come to an end, this was the perfect way to do it. And still hoping for that second book!

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.