Saralyn Richard Asks are You a Christie Fan?

Saralyn Richard Asks are You a Christie Fan?

Saralyn Richard is the author of Murder in the One Percent. You can check her bio out here.

I’m often asked the ponderous question of how I ended up writing mystery novels. As I reach back into my memory of that ambition’s long history, a few milestones emerge.

Photo of Dame Agatha Christie
Dame Agatha Christie
  • I started reading mysteries at a very young age.
  • I collected and read every single Agatha Christie novel and every biographical work about her.
  • I became fascinated with the connections that bridge author and reader through the intellectual and emotional puzzle that is a mystery.

I’m not the only person whose fascination with all things Agatha could be classified as over the top. Agatha is still, forty-four years after her death, the only author whose books have sold more than any other author’s (except for the Bible), with over a billion books in recorded sales.

A biographical history of the prolific enchantress at her website (something she surely never fathomed) reveals many details in common between her life and mine, even though we lived in different ages and different countries. No wonder her books have always resonated with me.

An Almost Visit

Ceramic Scrabble tile with Agatha Christie terms
Ceramic wall hanging from Richard’s home.

The year I started teaching English, one of her short stories was in the anthology I taught. That summer I was lucky enough to have planned a trip to the English countryside, including Devon, where Ms. Christie was residing. I was plucky then and took a chance by writing a fan letter to Dame Agatha, asking if I might visit with her when I was in town.

Weeks went by without a response, so I chalked it up to experience and kept going. Then one day I received a correspondence from Ms. Christie’s secretary. She told me the author was unable to receive visitors at this stage of her life, but she was honored by my request. A year later, Ms. Christie’s life ended.

Decades later, when I wrote MURDER IN THE ONE PERCENT, early reviewers compared the book to an Agatha Christie novel. I was thrilled, of course, to be compared to the master of mystery, but I hadn’t set out to write in her style. Someone pointed out to me, though, that my book was a locked room mystery, that the characters were upper-class, that there were multiple suspects with motives. All true, and perhaps I had internalized the many Christie novels I’d read, or maybe I was channeling my writer-hero.

Of course, there are as many differences as similarities—my books are distinctly American. My series detective, Oliver Parrott, while named with a nod to Poirot, is African-American and young. The newly released sequel to MURDER IN THE ONE PERCENT, A PALETTE FOR LOVE AND MURDER, deals with modern themes, such as PTSD and other social issues, that Agatha never grappled with. But the universal themes of love, jealousy, revenge, and greed are wound throughout my writing as much as in hers.

Are you an Agatha-phile, too, or do you have another mystery author you adore? I’d love to hear your responses!

You can find out more about Saralyn Richard at her website, saralynrichard.com, or visit her Amazon author page here.

Saralyn Richard

Saralyn Richard is the author of Naughty Nana, Murder in the One Percent, and A Palette for Love and Murder. You can find out more about her on her website, saralynrichard.com, or follow her on Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram.

This Post Has 10 Comments

  1. Margaret Mizushima

    Saralyn, I enjoyed this post so very much and loved the story about your almost visit. Wouldn’t that have been grand?! I must admit that I’ve never been one of Agatha’s fans, although I admire her for her work ethic and accomplishments. As a kid, I did read Nancy Drew mysteries while at the same time gravitating toward the Black Stallion series. I went from there to read Zane Grey and then as an adult switched back to mysteries. My favorite authors write mystery, suspense, and thrillers and range from Sue Grafton and J.A. Jance to Margaret Coel and Elly Griffiths to Michael Connelly, Robert Crais, and Lee Child.I’ve omitted some of my favorite authors but there just isn’t enough time and space! 🙂
    Thank you for this post!

  2. Avatar
    saralynrichard

    Thanks for your comments, Margaret. I was a Nancy Drew fan, too, and we share many of the preferential mystery authors of today. I should add that I’m also a fan of yours!

  3. Joy Ribar
    Joy Ribar

    Saralyn, this was such a merry read. I have read just a couple Agatha books, but admire her groundbreaking work for women writers in the mystery genre. You’ve inspired me to revisit her works in the future. Many of my favorite authors are literary greats, but my mystery life began with the Bobbsey Twins back when I was 5, continued to Trixie Belden, and graduated into many enjoyable authors today, including my discovery of many here on this site. Thank you.

  4. Avatar
    saralynrichard

    Thank you, Joy. I also read the Bobbsey Twins, Trixie Belden, and Judy Bolton, too. Oh, and I can’t forget the Hardy Boys. I didn’t care that I wasn’t a boy!

  5. marilynlevinson
    marilynlevinson

    I, too, love and admire Dame Agatha. My mystery, MURDER A LA CHRISTIE, is a tribute to her. In it, my sleuth is leading book club discussions about Christie novels while solving the murders of book club members.

  6. Avatar
    saralynrichard

    What a concept, Marilyn! I will have to read that one, for sure!

  7. Sharon Lynn
    Sharon Lynn

    I did my English final in HS comparing Poirot to Holmes to Ellery Queen. I’ve always loved the classics!

  8. Avatar
    Saralyn Richard

    Sounds like a fun essay to write, Sharon! Sounds like you’ve loved mysteries all of your life, just like I have. 🙂

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