Miss Marple: An Enduring Flame


I woke up on Black Friday and checked my e-mail—only to find a request from my British publisher that I contact a Liverpool radio station interested in interviewing me next week about my forthcoming book (Jan. 20103), Miss Marple: Christian Sleuth!




I have done radio interviews before, live and taped, for several previous books. But never for an overseas audience.

This one, a fun experience (below), was with Sylvia Dickey Smith about my 2010 book Becoming Flame on her regular broadcast Writing Strong Women/blogtalkradio:


Radio City UK! If it all works out I’ll be on the air next Wednesday morning my time/afternoon theirs.

What was the initial thread of this literary adventure?

It started for us—my husband and me—as entertainment. After a busy day working at the computer, it was relaxing to watch (mostly) British mysteries at night, renting discs and eventually buying the whole BBC Miss Marple series with Joan Hickson—our favorite Marple actress. Even when we already knew the plots, watching the scenes unfold began to reveal more and more about Jane Marple’s character. “What,” I wondered, “impels her to consistently ‘stick out her neck’ for other people and relentlessly pursue the guilty?”

Then I remembered Dorothy Sayers’ famous saying: “Time and trouble will tame an advanced young woman, but an advanced old woman is uncontrollable by any earthly force.” And as Psalm 92 assures us: “The righteous flourish like the palm tree. … In old age they still produce fruit.” That was Miss Marple in a nutshell (pardon the image)—and I was off and writing.

It is amazing how, as I reread the texts behind the videos—the twelve Miss Marple novels and twenty short stories about her—the ideas and themes kept popping up and organizing themselves, giving my book the structure it needed.

Discovering that the fictional Miss Marple always read “a few devotional lines” of Thomas à Kempis’ Imitation of Christ, in bed before turning out the light, underlies my premise. And it all adds up, as my friend and critic Art Livingston puts it: “The old lady detective emerges as a small village saint, made of stern stuff, replete with the holy armor of knitting needles and brains.”

What fun!

Let’s hear it for the unnoticed, the humble, the spiritually disciplined among us who help hold together the fabric of human civility and strengthen spiritual values—often quietly, behind the scenes.

Here’s to Miss Marple!





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