Back in the day, when I was just starting out as a writer, I was still looking to develop a style.
Up to then, I’d been working on the principle of write what you know, which meant writing the thing I enjoyed reading the most, Sci-fi, with plenty of futuristic action. I tried to develop my plots with added episodes from my life experiences. It turns out that I was missing a trick.
When my wife suggested that instead of a male lead for my next novel, I tried writing from a female perspective, I thought she was crazy.
“Why not?” She asked when I told her that.
“Because I write from what I know,” I said.
She laughed, “you’ve been married to me for thirty years, you have three daughters and two granddaughters. Isn’t that enough? write about someone like us!”
She was right (of course), And from that, Andorra Pett was born. I thought of making her a fearsome space adventurer but that seemed a little bit pointless. Especially if all she was doing was having the same life as the rest of my characters. What else could she do?
The more I thought about it, the more I realised that my family members had traits that would suit an amateur detective. They were smart, inquisitive and determined, on a good day. They could also be untidy, irrational and just plain awkward. They often had a good line in humorous comebacks. A character made up from their good and bad points would be perfect.
Then I had to consider what sort of crime she would investigate and where it would all take place. I’d always been a fan of Miss Marple and Agatha Raisin, the way they solved crimes that very often, nobody else even realised were crimes.
To make her stand out from all the other female amateur detectives and help me use all the world-building I had used in my writing so far, I decided to add a touch of sci-fi. I didn’t want too much, just enough to make a realistic and plausible environment for her to live and work in. I figured that would be a winning formula.
Rather than put her thousands of years in the future, where she would only appeal to hard Scifi fans, I decided to set her life just a few years from now. Things are different in her world but recognisable from where we are today. There’s no beam me up or travelling faster than light, just a small colony on the Moon and Mars, plus several space stations, including the one mining the rocks in Saturn’s rings.
Initially I wrote a short story, in which Andorra arrives on that space station, off Saturn. I made it pretty clear that she was running from a bad relationship and that this was about as far away as she could get. At that moment, solving crime wasn’t on her radar, she just wanted a quiet life and a place to start again where nobody knew her.
My editor and the people I showed the short story to all said that they liked it and that it was interesting enough to form the basis for a full novel. The question was, which direction was it going to go in?
I figured that Andorra, being a clothes designer who had decided to open a café was the perfect fish out of water, being on a space station just added to the feeling that she was so far out of her depth that anything would be possible.
So, I decided to throw in the body of a man with a dubious past and a lot of people who might have killed him for what he knew. Plus, the politics of the station, its hierarchy and environment were against her from the start. All that was needed was to drop her in, then sit back and see what she did. She might have sunk, in the event, not only did she swim, she managed to thrive.
Andorra amazes herself with her ability to work out what’s going on, when events start spiralling out of her control, she comes to realise that running away from one thing didn’t mean that you wouldn’t find another set of problems.
As I was finishing her first adventure, I could see what might happen to her next, so I carried on writing. The second novel was written back-to-back with the first, the third and fourth followed in quick succession. In creating her back story, I came up with something that she did when she was a child, which gave me a short story. I’m currently working on novels five and six, plus a spin-off set in her future.
There are those people who’ve told me that the Andorra Pett series is not a proper cozy mystery because it’s not set in a small town. But I would argue that a closed community like a space station or a small colony on Mars is pretty similar.
Andorra Pett: Book 1
Publication Date: September 25th, 2017
Andorra Pett has left her old life behind. But has she only swapped one set of problems for another?
Andorra’s on the rebound. Her only thought is to get a world away from her cheating ex. With her best friend Cy in tow, she invests her meagre savings in a run-down cafe. Never mind that it’s on a space station orbiting Saturn, or that Andorra is accident-prone and can’t make toast without a recipe and a video. Surely running a cafe can’t be that hard, right?
Unfortunately, her dreams of a quiet life are not to be, she’s bought into a mystery, trouble is just around the corner.
When the body of the previous owner is found in the freezer, Andorra’s plans hit some turbulence. She quickly finds that the dead man had enough information about the darker side of station life to embarrass a lot of people, they all want to know what he knew. And she’s in the way.
Andorra needs to find out where he’s hidden his book of secrets. Before anyone else does.
One of local residents must know more than they are letting on. As the body count begins to rise, can Andorra turn her luck around in time to catch the murderer before they strike again?
After all, she might be the next victim.
The answer to this cozy mystery is out of this world!
Richard Dee is from Brixham in Devon. Leaving school at 16 he briefly worked in a supermarket, then he went to sea and travelled the world in the Merchant Navy, qualifying as a Master Mariner in 1986.
He has also worked as an Insurance Surveyor, Lockmaster, Harbourmaster and Ships Pilot, taking over 3,500 vessels up and down the Thames, passing through the estuary, the Thames Barrier and Tower Bridge.
Since the publication of his first Science Fiction novel, Freefall, in 2013, Richard has written another twelve novels, a textbook and a selection of short stories. He has been featured in several anthologies, including 1066 Turned Upside Down, Connections and Tales from Deepest Darkest Devon.
He writes Science Fiction and Steampunk adventures and also chronicles the exploits of reluctant amateur detective Andorra Pett.
Richard is married with three adult children and five grandchildren.
March 14 – Celticlady’s Reviews – SPOTLIGHT
March 14 – Sapphyria’s Book Reviews – SPOTLIGHT
March 15 – Brooke Blogs – CHARACTER GUEST POST
March 16 – Literary Gold – AUTHOR INTERVIEW
March 17 – Maureen’s Musings – SPOTLIGHT
March 18 – Novels Alive – GUEST POST
March 18 – Books a Plenty Book Reviews – REVIEW
March 19 – Jemima Pett, Author – REVIEW, CHARACTER INTERVIEW
March 19 – Escape With Dollycas Into A Good Book – SPOTLIGHT
March 20 – Cozy Up With Kathy – REVIEW, AUTHOR INTERVIEW
March 20 – FUONLYKNEW – SPOTLIGHT
March 21 – fundinmental – SPOTLIGHT
March 22 – Elizabeth McKenna – Author – SPOTLIGHT
March 23 – I Read What You Write – REVIEW
Thank you so much for posting about Andorra today.
You’re most welcome! 🙂