“Who I Am. What I Write.”
Julianna Deering (DeAnna Dodson)
I’ve been so busy trying to make a living (no mean feat in times like these) that I haven’t really had time to think about the writing I enjoy. Of course, I enjoy all of it. I really do. Even with the challenges it brings, even when I’m sure there is no way I can cudgel the hot mess I’ve been struggling with into a readable tale, there’s something about bringing a story to life that is incredibly satisfying.
I’ve had thirty-five novels traditionally published. I have more in the works. And, from the very first to the very most recent, while writing each one, I have had a crisis of confidence, certain that I couldn’t possibly make the story work, certain that I would at last be exposed as the fraud I am. And, thank God, despite my doubts and frustration and desire to dig myself a hole and pull it in after me, I have always found a way, or I should say God has provided me a way, to solve the problems and give my characters a happy ending.
But, even though I enjoy all of my books, there are some that are truly the books of my heart, the ones I’ve written for sheer pleasure. My Drew Farthering Mysteries (Rules of Murder, Death by the Book, Murder at the Mikado, Dressed for Death, Murder on the Moor, and Death at Thorburn Hall) came to be for three reasons.
First, I had for many years enjoyed the British mysteries of the 1930s. Agatha Christie, Dorothy L. Sayers, and Marjorie Allingham are my favorites, though there are many others. I love the mystery genre in general because I enjoy seeing if I can solve the puzzle before the author reveals the solution. I love it when I can’t, as long as the author has given enough information in the first place so I could have solved it had I been clever enough. I just had to try my hand at writing something similar, and that’s when Drew appeared.
Second, I love English history and English literature, so I very much wanted to write something set in England and with a some kind of literary thread running through it. Naturally, Drew and Madeline are book lovers and manage to draw a lot of their conclusions based on the mysteries and other classic works they’ve read. And, of course, they enjoy a nice literary quote or quip whenever they can manage to toss one in.
And, third but not least, one of the things I love about writing the books of my heart is being able to write the characters I want to read. I have for many years enjoyed the mysteries and romantic comedies of the 1930s and ’40s. Naturally, being a little of both, the Thin Man film series was a huge influence on me. Nick and Nora Charles are a married couple who actually enjoy being around each other, have a wonderfully playful and witty romantic relationship, and also make a solid sleuthing team. That’s something I wanted for my Drew and Madeline, and it’s something I enjoy most about writing them.
I said above that Drew “appeared” when I decided to try to write historical mysteries. He really did. His full name, Ellison Andrew Farthering, popped into my head, fully formed, along with the knowledge that he hated to be called Ellison. I knew he was wealthy, handsome, stylish, and witty, living in the period between the two world wars and not sure what he’s meant to do with his life. And I knew, in the grand tradition of the great films of the 1930s, he would fall in love at first sight with the girl I created for him.
Madeline, of course, was equally smitten, but she was also wise enough to exercise a little caution to make sure their feelings were more than just ephemeral infatuation. Naturally, since I was writing the thing in the first place, they were. But I enjoyed letting them find out for sure. And, since he’s English and she’s American, I enjoyed the linguistic and cultural differences between them.
I realize it’s been some time since the last book in the series, Death at Thorburn Hall, was published, but I still haven’t given up the idea of writing more books about Drew and company. That making a living stuff is still getting in my way, but when the time comes, there will be more mysteries for Drew and Madeline and their friends to solve. Stay tuned.
JULIANNA DEERING has always been an avid reader and a lover of storytelling, whether on the page, the screen or the stage. This, along with her keen interest in history and her Christian faith, shows in her tales of love, forgiveness and triumph over adversity. A fifth- generation Texan, she makes her home north of Dallas with three spoiled cats and, when not writing, spends her free time quilting, cross stitching and watching NHL hockey. Her new series of Drew Farthering mysteries set in 1930s England debuted from Bethany House with Rules of Murder (2013) and is followed by Death by the Book and Murder at the Mikado (2014), Dressed for Death (2016) and Murder on the Moor and Death at Thorburn Hall (2017). Also, as DeAnna Julie Dodson, she has written a trilogy of medieval romances (In Honor Bound, By Love Redeemed and To Grace Surrendered) and several contemporary mysteries for Annie’s Fiction and Guideposts. She is represented by Wendy Lawton of the Books & Such Literary Agency (www.booksandsuch.biz).
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