Howdunit is an unusual book, because although it contains lots of information that is valuable for people who want to write crime fiction (or detective stories, or short stories, or spy stories, or thrillers or adventure stories or radio or...you get the picture) it also seeks to entertain and engage readers who don't have literary ambitions. I don't think this has been attempted before, certainly not on such a scale, but I hoped to give readers genuine insight into the writing life. The contributors responded quite brilliantly.
Early reaction to the book has been extremely heartening, both from writers and readers. Two interesting writers are Adam Croft and Robert Daws, who together produce a podcast called Partners in Crime. Adam is a prolific novelist whose books have sold millions of copies, while Robert has established a new career as an author of mysteries set on Gibraltar. He has another life as an actor and I remember vividly his terrific performance in the excellent TV comedy Outside Edge, in which his wife was played by Brenda Blethyn. That show, incidentally, was written by Richard Harris, who also wrote crime fiction as well as at least one excellent crime play and many TV crime series. Anyway, I digress. The latest Partners in Crime podcast included Robert's discussion of Howdunit. I was very pleased by his response to the book and encourage you to listen to the whole podcast. It's very polished, and worth subscribing to.
Kate Jackson is one of the most widely-read young bloggers around. Her Cross Examining Crime blog is required reading for Golden Age fans, and I'm delighted with her review, from the point of view of a traditional mystery fan with no particular wish to write crime fiction herself - so, quite a different perspective from that of Robert and Adam. She makes an important point about the debating issues raised by the various contributors. Anyone who reads Howdunit will realise that I made no attempt to present harmonised or sanitised opinions - on the contrary, the views of different authors vary widely, even on issues like whether or not there is such a thing as writer's block. So Howdunit doesn't present the 'official view' of the Detection Club on topics covered, because the Club doesn't have one - what it does have is a bunch of lovely members whose views I find enormously interesting and thought-provoking, whether or not I agree with them on specific points. And I'm so glad that Kate 'got' what we were trying to do. As she says: 'this book has something for everyone who is interested in crime fiction – modern or old.'
P.S. Since 'New Blogger' became compulsory. I've not figured out how to incorporate either labels or hyperlinks that work. If anyone can enlighten me, do drop me a line!