Nobody has ever written as many enjoyable, fun-to-read crime novels as Agatha Christie. It’s all about the storytelling and the pleasure of the reader. She doesn’t want to be deep or highbrow.
I grew up reading 19th-century novels and late Victorian children’s books, so I try for a good story full of coincidence and error, landscape and weather. However, the world was radically changed during my lifetime, and I tell of that battering as best I can.
I just reached the point where plot-driven novels don’t hold my interest because I don’t care about the fate of characters anymore – whether Emily marries Tom or not, that kind of thing.
Historians turning their hands to fiction are all the rage. Since Alison Weir led the way in 2006, an ever-growing number of established non-fiction writers – Giles Milton, Simon Sebag Montefiore, Harry Sidebottom, Patrick Bishop, Ian Mortimer and myself included – have written historical novels.
Within my own life, I read all the beloved novels by lamps of vegetable oil; I saw the Standard Oil invading my own village, I saw gas lamps in the Chinese shops in Shanghai; and I saw their elimination by electric lights.