Pen and paper

Novel approach: murder in the mairie

Writing about what you know brings credibility to a book. I’ve taken this advice to heart with my attempt to pen a novel: it is set in a village that’s just like the one we stay in – even down to its name. Castillonnès has become the fictional village of Castillac.

The similarities don’t stop there. Both are bastide villages around 20km from Bergerac. The architecture and geography of the two villages are very similar too. Even the street names are the same.

When it comes to the characters, though, I’ve steered clear of simply plonking people I know in the story. Real people have a habit of doing what they want. That’s no good in a novel.

On top of which, people can take offence if they realise you’ve written about them, especially if your characterisation isn’t overly flattering.

I’m writing a murder mystery set in France. That’s the challenge I’ve set myself for this year – but I don’t want to end 2015 embroiled in a court case for libel. So, my characters are inspired by people or situations I know – a style of dress here or a situation there – but from then on they are works of fiction.

“I’m writing a whodunit murder mystery set in France. That’s the challenge I’ve set myself for this year”

I started my work on the novel by developing the murderer and the victim. I have no intention of revealing the killer at this stage – sorry, you’ll have to buy the book when it’s published.

I can tell you, though, that the murder victim is the village mayor. You’ll find that out in chapter one anyway, so it’s OK to say so. Why he is murdered will have to remain a secret for now.

I’ve been busy building back stories for the principal characters. That dictates how they behave. I’ve tried to work in some decent subplots – and a few red herrings – too.

I have developed a sleuth and a trusty sidekick. Both have more than a dash of me in them. After all, I know myself best of all.

That should help them ring true.

This entry was published on Sat, 28 Feb 2015 at 09:15. It’s filed under Places and people and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Follow any comments here with the RSS feed for this post.

4 thoughts on “Novel approach: murder in the mairie

  1. he he he!!!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. jenny webb on said:

    OMG-can’t wait! j from Castillac!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Wonderful idea, and very exciting!

    And thanks for liking my blog about southwest France, You may have discovered I did my own detective work when a photographer friend of mine recognized the cover of a Martin Walker novel (set in the Dordogne!) was actually the main street of the village of Sarlat. (

    I hope if the novel is set in “Casti” you will include some historic Tour de France elements. As you know (?) the creator of the original, non-competitive Tour de France was a hairdressor-inventor-cyclist from Casti (

    And of course there will be prunes — lots and lots of prunes. 🙂

    Cheers — Ulrike in Vancouver, Canada (formerly of Lauzun, France)

    Liked by 1 person

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