Elizabeth Flynn, welcome to International Christian Fiction Writers. I loved your first book Game, Set, Murder and I’m anxious to hear more about Dead Gorgeous, your newest release. First, tell us about how you conceived the idea of the D. I. Costello series
Donna, first let me say, thank you so much for inviting me to be a guest on the blog. I’m very grateful for the opportunity to connect with everybody.
I didn’t consciously conceive the idea for the D.I.Costello series. In fact, I started writing what has now become the first one, Game, Set and Murder as a type of relaxation, to distract me from what I then regarded as my magnum opus. I’d blocked out the idea for what I thought was going to be the definitive English novel (don’t we all?) and at some point an image came into my head of a man lying dead on a tennis court. Well, I thought, I can tinker with this idea. It will clear my head and I’ll come back to the real book refreshed.
Well, that was many years ago. I wrote the book. I think it might have been called Net Call or Break Point, something like that. This was in the days before computers so I just had one or two typed copies.
I didn’t get anywhere with it and turned my attention to other writing projects, including the definitive etc., (now gathering dust somewhere). Eventually a friend said to me that she thought that ‘my tennis book’ had some life left in it. ‘It’s got legs’ was how she put it. By this time I’d lost both my copies but I thought about what she said and decided that, since I still had the core plot in my head, it was worth a try.
Cue: Total re-write and a name change to Game, Set and Murder.
To cut a long story short a mutual friend put me in touch with Ali Hull, who worked for Lion Hudson. Ali was a great help to me in tidying up my style and helping to knock the manuscript into shape. Soon after this I heard, from Ali, that Lion Hudson were looking to ‘go mainstream’ with several genres, crime fiction being among them. Ali kindly presented my book to the commissioning editor, Tony Collins. Tony liked what he read which was exciting enough in itself but almost his first comment in asking to see the whole manuscript was a question about how I planned to develop the protagonist, Angela Costello.
Of course, there’s no point in being coy when a commissioning editor asks a question like that so I told him that I planned a series of novels. Now, I’ve just started working on the fourth.
Game, Set, Murder is set in the tennis world during Wimbledon week. What research did you have to do to develop that background? Do you play tennis? Have you attended Wimbledon?
I’m really pleased that I was able to set Game, Set and Murder in Wimbledon. Tennis is the only sport I follow and I really love the tournament each year. I’ve managed to get there a few times and I took the tour during the writing of the book. I also made contact with the press officer of the club and he was very helpful with some inside information.
I read that the idea for the first book came from “seeing” a body lying dead on a tennis court. (Some people might not understand that statement, but writers do). Did you have a similar internal vision for Dead Gorgeous?
The second novel, Dead Gorgeous, was built on a completely different base. I work in a hospital and I used this setting to weave a murder story involving crime and corruption against a medical background. When I presented it to Lion Hudson they said they liked the way it was written but thought that, after the high-profile setting of Wimbledon, an anonymous, fictional hospital didn’t carry the series forward in the most advantageous way.
I could see their point, so I changed the background to the fashion industry and out of that has arisen, incidentally, the plan for all the novels to be set in some high-profile event or place. Since the stories are set in London there’s no shortage of ideas to keep me busy.
Is the fashion world one you were familiar with or was the background all research?
I don’t have any background in fashion and, if I’m honest, not much interest in that world either, so I had do some research for the book. I’ve also got a couple of friends who are a lot more savvy than I and they helped out with details.
What writing did you do before the D. I. Costello series?
Before D.I.Costello I’d written several novels but none of them murder mysteries. I also didn’t limit myself to fiction. In the eighties I was part of a team writing and presenting a Sunday programme at the London Broadcasting station. I wrote link scripts and book reviews and also gained some experience in interviewing and presenting. It was huge fun. In 1987 SPCK commissioned me to write a book about living alone. It was published as Solo and in the nineties a friend and I co-wrote a sit-com. We had some encouraging comments from one or two producers but, alas, we didn’t get any further with the project.
This series could be considered in the line of traditional English mystery writers. Who are your favorites to read?
As far as my own favourite authors are concerned, they’re so many. Naturally, I start with the queen of them all, Agatha Christie but I also enjoy P.D James, Peter Robinson, Ruth Rendell, Harlan Coben, Susan Hill and that’s just scraping the surface.
What’s next for you and D. I. Costello?
Next, well, next up is, I hope, more of the same. My publishers are now looking at the third D.I. Costello and while I’m waiting for them to make a decision I’ve got started on the fourth.
Where can our readers find you online?
My website is elizabethflynnauthor.com and I’m also have a D.I. Costello page on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/pages/DI-Costello/315648901925691?ref=aymt_homepage_panel and can be found on Twitter at https://twitter.com/Flizzylynn
Posted by Donna Fletcher Crow