How One Writer Writes–Elizabeth George

Mastering the processI know there are writers among the readers of this blog and I keep an eye out for interesting articles about the writing life. Here’s one from Elizabeth George, the prolific mystery novelist. She writes about her writing schedule and comments: “I don’t require my career to be fun. I require it to be challenging and deeply satisfying. For me, fun is ephemeral. Satisfaction generally is not.”  The schedule she describes should energize us all even if we’re not writers.

I used to be a big fan of Elizabeth George and read all her books as they were published, but then there was one that I found distasteful so I stopped. She hasn’t given up on her readers, so maybe it’s time for me to give her another chance. Although she’s in the U.S., her stories are always set in England and filled with lots of atmospheric detail. For an Anglophile like me, that’s always a treat.

The recurring characters in George’s books are Detective Thomas Lynley and his associate Barbara Havers–maybe you’ve seen the TV series? There are always two things going on in the novels: the mystery that Lynley and Havers solve and the private lives of the two detectives. Lynley comes from money but has chosen to fight crime–what a noble guy! He’s also quite attractive and his love life is complicated. Barbara Havers has always believed that she’s not attractive and can’t believe that her very nice neighbor is interested in her. She also takes on the responsibility of caring for her elderly, cantankerous parents. Another reason why I dropped the series is that I began to feel like a voyeur into the lives of Lynley and Havers! That speaks to the way George is able to write such realistic characters.

In this time of social distancing, when the pleasure of books is more important than ever, Elizabeth George’s mysteries are definitely distracting. Since we can’t go to the library now, it’s helpful that her mysteries are available as ebooks and audiobooks.

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