Time frames in novels, and particularly when writing a series, as with the Inspector Andy Horton mysteries, the Art Marvik mystery thrillers and my new 1950 set mystery series featuring Scotland Yard detective Inspector Ryga, are a tricky thing. There is ‘real time’ and there is ‘fictional time’.
In ‘real time’ I write a DI Andy Horton and either an Art Marvik or Inspector Ryga mystery in a year whereas in ‘fictional time’ the novels are set over a shorter time frame.
Andy Horton was thirty nine when I created him in TIDE OF DEATH in 2006 so by now he should be fifty three. However, in ‘fictional time’ fourteen novels later, he is only forty. The novels take place not over ten years but over eighteen months, which means for DI Andy Horton there are an awful lot of murders in Portsmouth and the Isle of Wight, making it worse than Midsomer Murder on a good day!
It's said that Agatha Christie regretted making Hercule Poirot sixty when she created him because by the time she finished writing about him he would in ‘real time’ have been about a hundred and eight! In ‘fictional time’ Poirot stayed more or less the same age. I'm not saying that will happen to DI Andy Horton, he may age yet.
With Art Marvik in SILENT RUNNING, the first of three in the series, there is his struggle to adjust to civilian life and, from the second in the series, DANGEROUS CARGO, there is the mystery behind the death of his marine archaeologist parents’ when he was seventeen, thought to be an accident but was it? Marvik has a new mystery to solve in the third in the series, LOST VOYAGE which is published in paperback and e book. And I have written number four. Publication date yet to be announced.
In my contemporary crime novels I try to avoid mentioning the current year if I possibly can, leaving it to the imagination of the reader. The other problem with real time is that technology changes and so too do the names of police departments as they are merged, re-organised and cut back. In the DI Andy Horton novels I started off talking about the Serious Organised Crime Agency which in October 2013 became the National Crime Agency. It becomes increasingly difficult to keep up with all the name changes and often by the time the novel is published some of the police departments mentioned no longer exist in that format and that name.
Technology also advances so being specific can in one novel look bang-up-to-date and yet in another written a year or two later look grossly dated. MySpace, which was once all the rage, has been overtaken by Facebook in popularity, which in turn may very well also fade into the distance just as the iPad could become but a distant memory as something else replaces it. A powerful argument I think to create a police or murder mystery crime series set in the past which is what I have done with my 1950 set Inspector Ryga mysteries. Here I am specific about the year because it is an integral part of the crime novels.
The 1950s is a fascinating period where memories of the war are very strong, and the fear of more world conflicts haunt people. Society and policing in the 1950s was vastly different to today, no mobile phones, no dashing about in high speed cars and no computers so it was extremely interesting to research and write.
Very excited to hear an extract from the #audiobook of my new 1950 set #mystery DEATH IN THE COVE @the_cwa https://t.co/yYOLSgCFYP — P...
Marvik faces a desperate battle to save others from a ruthless assassin who will stop at nothing in order to protect the secret of the Ma...