Saturday, 24 January 2009

Blogs and Inspiration

One of the blogs I study most closely is Kerrie’s Mysteries in Paradise, and I was flattered a few days ago when Kerrie mentioned this blog as one of seven that she’s found inspiring. She asked that I name seven blogs which I regarded as inspirational. Since then, I’ve kept on deliberating (once a lawyer, always a lawyer?)

A tricky aspect of these memes is that selectivity is challenging. How can I confine myself to picking just seven blogs? Amnesia afflicts me regularly, and I’m bound to forget to highlight at least one that I really enjoy, probably half a dozen or more. (When I wrote up my 16 allegedly interesting things about myself, I clean forgot that I’d once been involved with a feature film – a story for another day, perhaps.)

Yet I didn’t want this post simply to be a list. I’m sure that readers will find plenty of interest in all the blogs listed in the blogroll - please don't overlook the ones I haven't mentioned specifically in this post. I thought that, as well as mentioning some blogs by name, I’d also make one or two brief general observations.

There are different types of inspiration, as well as different sources. For instance, Kerrie’s blog contains a number of adventurous technical features that one day I’d like to emulate (lack of time, as well as a massive techy expertise, is the snag here.) Then there are blogs which contain a good deal of useful info – examples include Karen Meek’s Eurocrime blog, It’s a Crime, Detectives Beyond Borders, Petrona (Maxine Clarke is an advocate of Friendfeed, something else I regret not having got round to investigating in sufficient detail yet), Murderati, Criminal Brief (Steve Steinbock’s Friday column is a definite must-read), Gerald So’s blog, and The Rap Sheet.

Several American writers have terrific blogs – Ed Gorman and the witty Bill Crider are among the names that spring instantly to mind. Patti Abbott’s series of Friday’s Forgotten Books is fascinating, and I am really pleased to be involved with it.

Then there are the blogs of readers and fans, sometimes focusing heavily on crime, like Ali Karim’ The Existentialist Man (with an emphasis on the contemporary), and Xavier Lechard’s At the Villa Rose (with an emphasis on the traditional detective sotry), sometimes ranging:far and wide (beyond books, let alone mysteries) for example, Letters from a Hill Farm, Books Please, Confessions of a Book and Opera Lover, Harriet Devine's blog, and the blogs of Roberta Rood and Lourdes Fernandes, two Americans I met when they were visiting England, and before I started blogging. In fact, I’ve met a number of fellow bloggers for the first time in the past twelve months, although often all too briefly, and this too has been a tremendous plus.


And then there are blogs which, at least at first sight, don’t have much to do with my fields of interest. One is Juliet Doyle’s Musings from a Muddy Island; yet her interest in letterpress has influenced me in developing one of the characters in my current work in progress. Another is a blog which links to Jane Gallagher’s writing blog – also by Jane, it’s called Work that Wardrobe. Now, nobody who has ever met me would ever confuse me with a dedicated follower of fashion. Yet as a novelist, I’m bound to be interested in most things – including what my female characters wear. But it’s a subject on which I’m pretty ignorant. And it occurred to me not long ago that I could pick up some good ideas for their appearance from Jane’s blog.

All this means that blogs can inspire me in a whole variety of ways. To guide me to interesting books I haven’t read before (old as well as new), to introduce me to delightful people and to help me, in one way or another, with my own writing. One thing is for sure. When I started off on this blogging lark, I had absolutely no idea how much fun it would give me. It’s been a revelation - and it’s become an addiction, but a very pleasurable one.


15 comments:

Jane said...

I enjoyed this post which celebrates the diverse world of blogging.
As a professional non-fiction writer (journalist), amateur fiction writer, enthusiastic reader with interests in fashion, exercise, nutrition and frugality, blogging ticks all the boxes.

Bill Crider said...

Thanks, Martin. Some people think I'm only half witty.

Nan said...

I am honored with your mention of my 'letters.' How very kind of you. Thank you.

harriet said...

Thanks for the plug! I enjoy yours, too.

maxine said...

Lovely post, Martin. I was fascinated to read about how you, as a best-selling author, uses blogs as a research tool. That's a really good idea (the part about the women's fashion)!

I hope you do try out Friend Feed a bit sometime - we have some convivial conversations in the crime&mystery fiction room - but I understand only too well that life is short and that one must focus. In your case, I hope on the next Lake District novel (I hope that is the work in progress alluded to in your post).

Thank you, by the way, for the mention in your post, much appreciated.

Ann Parker said...

Hi Martin!
A very interesting and thoughtful post. And now, I'm off to explore those blogs you mentioned...

Ann
http://silverrushmysteries.blogspot.com/

Kerrie said...

A wonderful post Martin. It's easy to see why I listed you in the first place :-)

I've only been blogging for just over a year, and what is beginning to fascinate me is the sense of being in a community of like minds. I regularly read most of the blogs you have listed. Just looking at the list and thinking "I know that one" is exciting in itself.
All the best Martin

maxine said...

I just checked back here and must apologise for the lax proof-reading in my above comment. Will do better next time!

Martin Edwards said...

'A community of like minds' is the right phrase, Kerrie. Both for bloggers and crime fiction fans. This sense of community is very interesting to me, partly because I think that many people who are keen on books are (like me) not really gregarious. But an interest in reading and/or writing is a very strong bond between people who, at first sight, might seem to have little in common. This is a theme to which I'll return in a future post.

Martin Edwards said...

Hi Maxine. You certainly have no need to apologise - especially to someone who unwisely omitted the words 'lack of' in between 'massive' and 'techy expertise'!!

crimeficreader said...

Martin, I have been out all day and it was a great pleasure to come home and read this post. Thanks for the mention.
Being out all day was also a great pleasure as I went to see Ken Stott in Arthur Miller's A View from the Bridge, which was fantastic. Due to tube issues today, I walked up Charing Cross Road again and noted that Murder One was still open for business, by the way. Perhaps today was to be their last day afterall...

Martin Edwards said...

Rhian, your mention of Arthur Miller reminds me of my A Level studies, when Death of a Salesman was one of our set books (and I read everything by Miller I could find - I became a great fan.) One of my classmates suggested that Willy Loman's surname suggested the concept of 'low man' and I remember most of the class, and the teacher, mocking this idea - it was a school where mockery was commonplace. And then, many years later, I came across a learned article making exactly the same suggestion....

Peter Rozovsky said...

Thanks for the mention and for the shopping list of blogs. You chosen some that I enjoy and others that sound promising. And you highlighted a feature of Kerrie's blog that I'd noticed but hadn't gathered under any one label or rubric. She is building a nice, full-service site.

And Bill Crider has all his wits.
==============
Detectives Beyond Borders
"Because Murder Is More Fun Away From Home"
http://www.detectivesbeyondborders.blogspot.com/

Juliet said...

Hi Martin - thanks for the mention.

Death of a Salesman was one of my A-level set books, too - and remains an all-time favourite! Like you, I have found the blogosphere has opened up amazingly diverse avenues of research and reading, and I've met some amazing and inspiring people - all of which have come as completely unexpected benefits of what started out as highly sceptical and speculative exercise in Musing to the world instead of merely to myself.

Long may you remain hopelessly addicted to blogging, Martin. Please don't seek treatment!

Gerald So said...

Thanks for the mention, Martin. It's always a pleasure to read your blog as well.