Lexie Conyngham's Blog: writing, history and gardening.

Thursday, 14 July 2016

International Authors' Day 2016

Hooray! Here it is again! The bloghop of the year! I'm late, for which I apologise, due to circumstances beyond my control, so I hope I'm not going to be barred.

International Authors' Day is hosted by Debdatta Dasgupta Sahay

This year I decided that as I've been writing about what I've been reading each month, including some of my favourite authors, I'd go back and comment generally on my reading history and how this madness for books started.

Though, to be honest, I can’t even remember – I think I may have been born with it! I come from families where people lose themselves in corners with books every day. There were certainly plenty of books around in the house, and my father was a regular visitor to at least three local libraries so of course we went, too. I read and re-read, and loved having stories read to me, too – I now love reading them aloud to other people.

I can hardly say what my favourite book was as a child: it's so, so difficult! When I was ten I remember reading Robert O’Brien’s The Silver Crown, and being so disappointed when it finished because I wanted it to go on forever. I knew Winnie the Pooh about word for word, and read my copies of the Chronicles of Narnia till they nearly fell apart. Noel Langley’s Land of Green Ginger was another one that fell to pieces – but I still have it! Norman Hunter’s books, Professor Braynstawm and the rest, were others I read and read. As a teenager I’d already discovered crime novels, and Dorothy L. Sayers and Ngaio Marsh were my favourites. Sayers’ Murder Must Advertise was probably top of the list. Jane Austen and Charles Dickens also featured prominently, though – I wasn’t put off by having to read such books for school. It was all just lovely reading!
The changing point that changed me from a reader to a writer, if that is the case, was early, too. I was always writing stories, and when I read my first Agatha Christie, aged about eleven, I realised that I wanted particularly to write crime mysteries. The combination of a plot that is character-driven and a puzzle was irresistible.

Amongst my own books, I think Death of an Officer’s Lady is probably my current favourite – though I like all of them. For years I’d been interested in the Battle of Waterloo, and intended to find some way to write about it, and there I finally did it. I had planned it so carefully and done so much research that when I reached those chapters, it all simply poured out and I wrote 12,000 words in a day – a record for me!
In terms of characters in my books, people seem to have warmed to Walter, Murray’s trainee manservant with the appalling sense of direction. He’s a solemn boy but occasionally finds humour in a situation, and always manages to get his own way. I particularly like Robbins, the butler, and his Islander wife Mary: they’ve been with me for a long time.

If I could meet one author from any time era, I think it would be Dorothy L. Sayers, and we’d talk about crime, universities and religion. Or Marcus Tullius Cicero – I did once dream I was talking with him in Latin, but I can’t remember what about! He has the reputation of being pompous but there was a vulnerable side to him, too.

Now, there's a self-indulgent author's day blog! 

Now for the giveaway: until 19th. July you can use this code on Smashwords to buy a copy of Thrawn Thoughts and Blithe Bits - LZ34Y.

It's a collection of short stories, some featuring Scottish Georgian detective Murray of Letho, some not; some seen before, some not; some long, some very short. Find a whole new dimension to car theft, the life history of an unfortunate Victorian rebel, a problem with dragons and a problem with draugens, and what happens when you advertise that you’ve found someone’s leg.


  1. I think most lovers of the written word started out young and for some reason, many of don't fall in love with writing until later, but not you. Part of me has always love to write but I never embraced it until I was an adult. Thanks for shaing and for participating.

  2. Thank you, too! and good luck with the writing!