Writing this blog has led to many interesting and enjoyable experiences and encounters, plenty of them wholly unexpected. One example was an invitation earlier this year to contribute to a festschrift celebrating the work of the late Gilbert Adair, whom I'd never met, but about whose detective pastiches I've written on this blog. And now the Verbivoracious Press (try saying that name after a couple of drinks!) has published the festschrift.
My essay is called "Gilbert's Games and the Golden Age of Murder", and it discusses Adair's last three novels, which feature Evadne Mount, in the context of Golden Age game-playing. I rather think Anthony Berkeley, for instance, might have appreciated Adair's ironic and ingenious attempts to play around with the idea of the whodunit.
I haven't as yet read all the other contributions, but I was pleased to see that one essay is written by Sergio Angelini, whose blog, Tipping My Fedora, is chock-full of interest. There's some overlap, not surprisingly, between his essay and mine, but we tackle our subjects from different angles, and Sergio also covers two earlier books by Adair, one of which I haven't read. The other is A Closed Book, which I read not long after it came out. Sergio is an expert on film as well as fiction, and I learned from his essay that A Closed Book was turned into a film four years ago, and with a very good cast. It seems to have sunk without trace in box office terms, but there is a DVD, and I will be sure to seek it out, though Sergio warns that the film is very different from the book.
This essay is the third I've published this year, in very different books. Morphologies, quite a high profile book edited by Ra Page, included my thoughts on Conan Doyle as a short story writer, while Mysteries Unlocked, a festschrift honouring Doug Greene and edited by Curtis Evans, is a splendid resource for those interested in reading essays about the genre; my piece focused on Anthony Berkeley's short stories. There's always a danger that invitations to write essays can distract one from the current novel, and sometimes I'm guilty of digressing when I should be focusing. But the occasional digression is, I'm sure, good for a writer, and helps to keep one's writing fresh.