Thursday, September 3, 2009

Did Dickens Delete Scenes? I Think Not!

Today the Pens welcome debut author Tracy Kiely, whose MURDER AT LONGBOURN was released this week. Fun disclosure - Sophie and Tracy share an agent and an editor! Romantic Times BookREVIEWS raves about LONGBOURN, saying "Jane Austen fans will thoroughly enjoy this cerebral mystery.”

My book, Murder at Longbourn, is something of a mishmash of my favorite forms of entertainment. I grew up reading Agatha Christie, Jane Austen, and watching Alfred Hitchcock movies (I am something of an Anglophile, much to the consternation of my Irish Catholic family). I love the twisty, deviously clever plots of Christie, the sublime wit of Austen, and the “average man caught in extraordinary circumstances” themes of Hitchcock.

When I began to think of writing my own mystery, I realized it would have to have those elements. I began to wonder how the characters in Pride and Prejudice might fit into a mystery. What if, after years of living with unbearably rude and condescending behavior, old Mrs. Jenkinson up and strangled Lady Catherine? What if Charlotte snapped one day and poisoned Mr. Collins’ toast and jam?

Then one day I was watching the news and - I kid you not - there was a story about a woman who killed her husband at a B&B after they attended a Host-A-Murder Dinner. I was off to the races! The final result is a humorous cozy that weaves in many elements of Pride and Prejudice.

Which is why the big harem scene where the main character is daringly rescued by the devastatingly handsome stranger (who later reveals himself to be a vampire), really didn’t fit the overall story line. Although, it was beautifully, nay brilliantly written.

Okay, I’m lying.

When I was first asked to write this blog on deleted scenes, I thought what a great idea! As one of those (geeky) movie buffs who loves watching the deleted scenes on the bonus dvds and scans to find out even more “behind the scene trivia,” I really liked the idea of doing the same for books. As a reader, you get the treat of “seeing” more of your favorite characters as well as getting a sense of the author’s creative process.

Unfortunately, I’m not only one of those people who talks you ear off at cocktail parties, at the airport, in line at the grocery store, I tend to do it on the written page as well. Once I had my main story down, I was forever going back and adding to it rather than deleting. I am the living antithesis of George Bernard Shaw’s quote of “I’m sorry this letter is so long, I didn’t have time to make it shorter.” I had loads of time and just kept adding additional layers. Like an onion. Shrek knows of what I speak.

In my defense, though, as I wrote about my characters, they became more and more real to me. I’d picture them in various situations, wonder how they’d react and find myself adding in those scenes. Cozies are just as much about the people as the action, so I think it makes for a more satisfying read to feel that you know the characters.

But now that I think about it, I’m staring to warm to this vampire idea…

Tracy Kiely graduated from Trinity College in 1990 with a degree in English. This accomplishment, however, merely seemed to prompt most job interviewers to ask "how fast can you type?" Her standard answer of "not so fast" usually put an end to further questions.

She was eventually hired by the American Urological Association (AUA), who were kind enough to overlook the whole typing thing, mainly because they knew just what kind of stuff she'd be typing. Beggars can't be choosers, you know. After several years, Tracy left the AUA taking with her a trove of anecdotal stories that would eventually result in her banishment from polite society.

Murder at Longbourn (St. Martin’s) is her first novel.


Unknown said...

Tracy--thanks for guest blogging at PensFatales!! :) I love watching deleted scenes too, same with reading them but I can *always* see why they were deleted :) :)

Bpoelle said...

Oh please, I could tell you about the greatest deleted scene EVER which Kiely so deftly crafted early on, but unfortunately I have taken a blood oath to never tell. However, she did send me a commemorative coffee cup to celebrate the deleting (how could you not, like, give your ORGANS to a client who does that?)so if ever near my office, I won't be able NOT to spill these delicious beans....

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