Today I have the pleasure of interviewing Eric Keith, international man of mystery and, as chance would have it, international writer of mystery. I "met" Eric via Twitter and loved his zany wit and was immediately interested in his book, Nine Man's Murder which is in the same vein as Agatha Christie's work (one of my faves!).
Note from Eric: I am very flattered to be invited as a guest on J.P. Choquette’s website. Usually when attractive young women offer me an invitation, it involves a cliff and an Olympic event. But Ms Choquette has been kind enough to let me talk about my murder mystery, Nine Man’s Murder. She has asked me a few questions, which I will try to answer without making too great a fool of myself, if it’s not already too late.
Note from J.P: See? I told you he was funny. :)
Q: Your book, Nine Man's Murder is along the vein of the game Clue or famous Agatha Christie books. How did the plot come to you and were there any surprises along the way while writing it?
Eric: Nine Man’s Murder grew out of two of my loves: the love of surprises, and the love of a challenge. I enjoy surprising my readers, not only with unexpected twists and turns of plot, but also with surprise endings, precisely in the vein of Agatha Christie, as you have mentioned. One day I was thinking about what I call “attrition novels”: novels in which a group of trapped characters are being murdered one by one, and one of them is the murderer—books like Agatha Christie’s Ten Little Indians (aka And Then There Were None). I was thinking that, as the number of victims dwindles, so does the number of suspects. As that number approaches one or two, it because progressively harder to surprise the reader with the identity of the murderer. This was the challenge: to surprise the reader, under conditions that made surprise virtually impossible. I took up the challenge, and the result was Nine Man’s Murder.
Q: Who are some of your favorite authors/books and do you draw on these as influence when writing?
Eric: Actually, my favorite authors are writers of literary fiction, such as James Joyce, Henry James, and all of the writers English majors study in college. However, since we’re talking about mystery fiction, the mystery writer most influential on me is definitely Agatha Christie. Not only did she write in the classic Golden Age style, but, more so than any mystery writer I’ve ever encountered, she leads readers down a path during the duration of a novel, until the reader discovers at the end that the path he thought he was on is not the path he’s actually traveling. You always experience that moment in your head when everything spins 180 degrees, and you realize that things are never what they seem. It is that experience which I try to create in my own mystery novels.
Q: What are some of your current projects?
Eric: I have just completed a suspense thriller, a science fiction novel involving time travel, and a humorous (I hope) faux “autobiography.” I am currently editing a supernatural thriller, and I just handed my wife a manuscript she asked me to write for her.
Q: Do you have a typical schedule when writing? If so, what's it like?
My typical writing schedule looks something like this: (1) List of chores that have to be done today. (2) List of errands that have to be run today. (3) List of chores and errands I didn’t get to yesterday. (4) Telephone calls that have to be made or are received. (5) Exercise. (6) The day is over. When was I supposed to get any writing done? Actually, I’m only kidding: Sometimes the errands come before the chores. This is scarcely an exaggeration, which means that just about the only time I get to write is when I’m washing dishes, brushing my teeth, or pretending to be listening to my wife tell me about her day (don’t tell her I said that). I’m trying to figure out how to add “writing” to my writing schedule, but so far the answer has eluded me.
Q: If you could pick one book which you wish you'd written, what would it be?
Well, given my writing schedule, that would be the one I’m supposed to be writing at the time. However, as far as other people’s works go, anything by Shakespeare or Joyce. I would love to be a literary genius. I would settle for just having the time to be a literary genius.
You can find Nine Man’s Murder on Amazon and Barnes and Noble. Please visit me at my website, www.MysteriesWithTwists.com and on Twitter @EricKeithMystry, or check out my FaceBook page at Eric Keith Mysteries.
J.P: Thanks so much, Eric, it was great talking with you today!
Eric: Thank you, J.P.
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