The Big Sleep
Wednesday 10 October 2012
Forgive me. I’ve been absent on account of having moved lock, stock and smoking barrel to Norwich to study the art of crime fiction. It’s one of the modules I’ve chosen for the University of East Anglia’s famous MA in Creative Writing. I’m now in my third week, and should be avoided in dark alleys at all costs.
We’ve been studying The Big Sleep by Raymond Chandler, the American hardboiler who preferred the English classic detective story. “There is more sense of background, as if Cheesecake Manor really existed all around and not just the part the camera sees; there are more long walks over the Downs and the characters don’t all try to behave as if they had just been tested by MGM. The English may not always be the best writers in the world, but they are incomparably the best dull writers,” he wrote.
The Cheesecake Manor in my latest novel, The Pigeon Pie Mystery, certainly exists off the page, and has done for several centuries. In fact the reason why I wrote a whodunnit was because I wanted to set a novel in Hampton Court Palace, and thought the genre suited the setting. Perhaps those nice people at Oprah.com have a fondness for the palace too - they recently chose this dull writer’s mystery as one of their books of the week.
For those of you too far away to visit this wonderful landmark, I’ve made a short film to show you where some of my characters live. Please forgive the mirth. It took four attempts, which I quite understand should be no laughing matter…