Inspirations – Mystery and Travel: Death on the Nile novel (1937) and movie (1978)

This post is part of the Little Bits of Classics & Christina Wehner Agatha Christie Blogathon which celebrates the 126th anniversary of the birth of Agatha Christie. With 85 novels written and between 2 billion – 4 billion copies sold, Agatha Christie was one of the most successful and prolific writers of the twentieth century.

If you haven’t discovered Agatha Christie, Death on the Nile is a great book to start with.

AgathaChristie

Death on the Nile takes place in the setting Agatha Christie knew best – a world of high society which dined in the finest restaurants and vacationed abroad. The author had spent much time in the Middle East in the 1930s accompanying her archaeologist husband, Max Mallowan, on digs, and had holidayed in Egypt, giving authenticity to the novel’s descriptions of grand hotels, luxury steamers, moonlit riverbanks and ruined temples.

The novel begins in England, where beautiful American heiress Linnet Ridgeway has purchased a country home. Linnet’s penniless friend Jacqui de Bellefort visits, asking if Linnet can give Jacqui’s fiance a job on her estate.

When Hercule Poirot enters the story, he is not acting as a detective, but enjoying a meal in London. He observes the devoted Jacqui and Simon at a nearby table, just before they visit Linnet.

To the surprise of the social set, it’s Linnet who weds Simon a few months later. The beginnings of the murder mystery are set in motion.

Arriving in Egypt for a cruise, Hercule Poirot finds himself at the same hotel as the honeymoon couple. Strangely Jacqui is also there. Heartbroken by Simon’s desertion, Jacqui has decided to follow Linnet and Simon, casting a shadow on their happiness.

What happens next? There’s a cruise down the Nile, a close shave in an ancient temple, moody sunsets, embezzling lawyers, an international agitator on the run, an eccentric authoress of saucy romances, high society jewel thieves and no less than three murders.

Hercule Poirot at last discovers the unlikely murderer. Death on the Nile is a whodunit, but it’s also a love story, a tragedy and a reflection on wealth, power and envy – Agatha Christie at her best, transcending her genre.

Movie Poster for the 1978 Universal Studios film of Death on the Nile

Movie Poster for the 1978 Universal Studios film of Death on the Nile

The 1977 movie of Death on the Nile is a treat. Lois Chiles and Simon MacCorkindale are a stunningly beautiful Linnet and Simon. Mia Farrow broods as Jacqui. Peter Ustinov is an impressive Hercule Poirot, and the supporting cast (of potential suspects) includes Bette Davis, Maggie Smith, Angela Lansbury, David Niven, Jane Birken and Olivia Hussey. There are some subtle changes from the book, with the omission of some characters and the combining of motivations, but these won’t affect your enjoyment of the film or the book.

A tense but stylish moment in the 1978 movie

A tense but stylish moment in the 1978 movie

Some other fun facts about the film:

  • The scenes were filmed on location in Egypt and at Pinewood Studios.
  • The haunting music was written by Nino Rota, a composer who had worked with the directors Federico Fellini, Luchino Visconti and Franco Zeffirelli, and wrote the score for Francis Ford Coppola’s Godfather films.
  • The tango scene in the luxury hotel was choreographed by Wayne Sleep.
  • The costume supervisor was Rosemary Burrows, who later worked on A Passage to India, Master and Commander and Harry Potter.
  • The costume maker was Germinal Rangel, who made the costumes in Sofia Coppola’s sumptuous Marie Antoinette.
  • Look out for Lois Chiles’ silver evening dress and her glittering shawl. You will covet Mia Farrow’s divinely slinky gowns and very glamorous daywear. And Simon MacCorkindale’s dressing gown is incredibly stylish!

“Most of the great love stories are tragedies,” muses Hercule Poirot on the last page of the novel. It could be said all of Agatha Christie’s great works are much more than whodunits.

Cover Reveal – ‘The House of Lost Shadows’

 

Cover Design by adipixdesign.com

Cover Design by adipixdesign.com

I’m very excited to reveal the cover for ‘The House of Lost Shadows’, a supernatural thriller set in the 1920s.

In 1926, the brilliant and charismatic film director, Karl Niemander, began work on his last picture, The House of Lost Shadows. Beset by troubles, he headed north to the Baltic coast to shoot the final scenes with his two stars, and a loyal cameraman. None of them were ever seen again.

Two years later, Grace O’Hara, an intrepid young reporter from Chicago heads to Berlin to find out what happened. Was Niemander a conman or genius? A fraud or a mystic? A true spiritual seeker or a murderer? As the sun rises over Berlin, Grace will hear a tale she will never forget.

If you are in the US, for a limited time, you can get a copy from Amazon here for 99 cents.

 

Midnight in Dublin

Did I mention “Midnight in Dublin” is free until December 12th?

Midnight in Dublin - cover design by adipixdesign.com

Midnight in Dublin – cover design by adipixdesign.com

Today you can find ‘Midnight in Dublin’ featured on the fantastic site A Girl and her eBooks, alongside many other fabulous book bargains! I really recommend you check out this site for free and bargain ebooks.

Happy reading!

My Travels…

Traditional Maltese fishing boat

Traditional Maltese fishing boat

I’ve been absent from my blog for a few weeks because I’ve been on holiday. Some good friends of mine had a birthday party – in Malta!

I’ve been down at the beach.

Blue Lagoon, Comino

Blue Lagoon, Comino

Exploring lanes in an ancient fortress built by the Knights of Malta.

The mysterious ancient capital of Malta - Ir-Lmdina

The mysterious ancient capital of Malta – Ir-Lmdina

Admiring the magnificent harbour and learning about the fascinating history of this Mediterranean island.

The harbour of Valletta

The harbour of Valletta

And since it takes such a long time to get to Europe, I couldn’t go home without spending a few days in Paris.

Central Paris - so stylish...

Central Paris – so stylish…

Wandering along the Seine…

View of Notre Dame Cathedral from Ile St Louis

View of Notre Dame Cathedral from Ile St Louis

Strolling through the gardens..

Such beautiful colours!

Such beautiful colours!

And absorbing the atmosphere for my new story “The Alchemist of Paris”!

Sigh, it’s back to reality now after a wonderful holiday!

* * * *

For a summer holiday story with a supernatural twist, why not try “The Wary Traveler”, available on Amazon for 99 cents!

Midnight in Dublin – A Review

makes you want to “follow the protagonist up and down the streets of Dublin” – a wonderful review of “Midnight in Dublin” by Oloriel

Color me in Cyanide and Cherry

MidnightinDublinKindleCover

Midnight in Dublin is an emotional, fantastical, psychological tale, from the pen of M. C. Dulac.
What I liked most about this book is the vivid and captivating descriptions of the location; they were filled with enticing imagery, but not too burdening and boring, they are the kind of descriptions that make you want to open Google maps and follow the protagonist up and down on the streets of Dublin.
The characters in the book are shown in a way which makes them feel very real, I really like that the writer included a lot of the protagonists thoughts and doubts and was not afraid to repeat them, for me this made the plot and characters more believable, human and relatable.
Another strong point of this book is definitely the fantastical elements. They retain enough mystery to keep you worried, curious and unsure of the outcomes until the last…

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How to avoid a saggy middle and other advice for writers

Book Review: “Structuring Your Novel – Essential Keys for Writing an Outstanding Story” and “Structuring Your Novel Workbook” by K. M. Weiland

I couldn’t help smiling when I read the expression “eliminating saggy middles” in K.M. Weiland’s book, because I know exactly the feeling: for me, it’s when I’ve started reading a novel and been sucked in by a great first act, but soon realise I’m sinking into a swamp. After 100 pages of swamp-wading, I start peering at the end of the book or checking the “minutes left” on my Kindle, wondering if the story will ever get exciting again.

If I’m writing, it’s worse. Suddenly my prose is like quicksand, and I’m writing on autopilot. I know a good bit is coming up, but I just have to get through this part. Not only me, but I fear my potential readers, begin to wonder if I should abandon the story altogether.

Weiland’s secret to banishing saggy middles forever is set out in “Structuring Your Novel – Essential Keys for Writing an Outstanding Story” and accompanying Workbook. This is frankly the best book on story structure that I’ve ever read. It’s both analytical and practical, with specific questions and common pitfalls listed at the end of each chapter.

There’s advice on how to create the hook and inciting event, where to place the major plot points, the power of foreshadowing, the effective use of settings, exercises to develop characters, an explanation of pinchpoints and advice on building up to the climax and resolution.

Delving further into structure, there’s analysis of scenes and sequels, the “mighty little pistons [that] power the entirety of your story”. Think of it that way and all those dull paragraphs fall away, transformed into working parts of the story engine. Breaking story down to sentence level, Weiland then explains MRUs – motivation-reaction units. People react to an event in a particular order (it’s true) and by following this order, sentences and paragraphs flow. If part of your book is sounding flat, there is a reason (and a solution) for it!

I used this book to breathe life into a story that has been staring at me for the last year. By applying the overarching structure, I realised that the basic plot points were in the right place (I was proud of that 🙂 ). Then, where the story started to sink or wander, I added appropriate pinchpoints and looked closely at each scene, tying it back to the major story arc. I was able to re-invigorate every character by following the step-by-step questions. I’m still editing, but this book has made the process so much easier. It’s like having a writing coach in the room!

I’ll be referring to this book for a long time, for existing and new projects. I have no hesitation giving it 5 stars and recommending it to any author.

Find the book here and workbook here. Paperback is also available.