One thing I absolutely love about murder mysteries is the setting. The intricate nature of the room layout in fantastic old manor houses gives a novel that glorious Cluedo feel. The detailed analysis of where items are placed in a room fascinates me and in novels such as Agatha Christie’s The Murder at the Vicarage we are lucky enough to have a map of a certain room.
With that in mind, I thought it might be fun to share with you the two drawings I used whilst writing The Smart Woman’s Guide to Murder. Filing away the piles of notebooks and research for this book, feels a little like putting it to bed. Looking at these now, I was reminded how important the drawings were and how the exact placing of every person at every point of the book was essential. The tiniest of movements in an object can be key in any murder mystery so they had to be meticulously placed.
The first plan is of the downstairs of Ambergris Towers. You can see the lay out of the rooms but also the importance of the chairs the characters occupied from day 1 and how much they would have been able to see from their positions. Each character had their own unique point of view on the action.
Plan of ground floor of Ambergris Towers
The second plan I loved doing! I played around a lot with who occupied which bedrooms and finally came up with this. I think this may well have been the tenth version! Throughout I had this image of the grand staircase that separated the two wings and created that division in the house. The light from the stained glass was very important too and how it subtly changed people’s perceptions and the atmosphere.
Plan of first floor of Ambergris Towers
And finally, I also created the crest of the family at Ambergris Towers which was great fun to play around with. But perhaps it gives just a little too much away though… I won’t explain it but I’ll just leave you to work out the various parts and why they were important.
Crest at Ambergris Towers
It’s been great fun to go through these and I wanted to keep a record of them here. I’d love to know if they match with your reading of the book. I’m deep amongst the planning and writing of the second, follow up book. That one has required an entire pin board and a lot of maps! More of that to follow soon…