by Dieter Moitzi
When the famous movie “Death on the Nile” starring Peter Ustinov, Bette Davis, Maggie Smith, Angela Lansbury, David Niven, and Mia Farrow amongst others, was released, I was six years old (hrm, yep, go on, Wikipedia it, and you’ll know I’m already that old, lol). I didn’t see it back then, of course, but ever since, I can’t tell you how many times I’ve watched it or read Agatha Christie’s book. Countless times, that’s for sure. I’ll always remember that remarkable scene where Mia Farrow is standing beneath the colossal statues of Ramesses II in Abu Simbel and shouting I don’t recall what, a breeze ruffling her hair, a luminous smile on her face, her voice echoing over the site.
I guess I’ve always dreamed of doing the same. Imagine therefore how excited I was in 2018 when, on a whim, my long-time boyfriend and I decided to book a cabin on ship cruising the Nile. All right, June in Egypt—we knew it would be sizzling hot (it was as a matter of fact). But hey: Karnak, Luxor, the Valley of the Kings, Aswan, the first cataract, Elephantine, hopefully Abu Simbel… I knew I was going to see it all, and then some.
Don’t worry, I won’t relate the whole one-week trip. Suffice it to say we were overwhelmed (the effing Nile, for God’s sake! There before our eyes!), brought loads of tourist crap back home (dust-catchers, you could call them), and took… over 3,000 photos. And don’t get me started on all the wonderful memories that are still in my head.
Strangely enough, though, I hadn’t been thinking of using the setting for a book back then.
But last year, I was sorting through my photo-files, selecting some for my travel site, when all of a sudden, I had a flash-like “That’s it!”-experience. It was odd because I had already started working on the sequel to my first book, “The Stuffed Cabin”, and the plot was already decided in my head. But there it was: the vision of a dead man lying on his bed, a huge knife sticking out of his back. Yes, I’m odd like that. What should I do about that dead man, who didn’t fit in with the book I was already working on? Darn!
In other words, what story could I weave around this little image?
Now, after I’d published “The Stuffed Cabin” in 2018 (that is, the English version was released in 2019), my boyfriend and I had been heavily brainstorming for a couple of weeks as to creating a new M/M series. Together we had already invented two main characters, a young Italian and a young Frenchie, and had devised how we wanted them to be, physically and psychologically. Alas, our first enthusiasm had petered out at one moment, our creation processes being rather incompatible. BF wants structure, planning, method. I work with organized chaos. Always. So, we had temporarily put our project to rest.
But I remembered it when that idea of the body with the knife appeared in my mind. And what with my looking at photos of our trip to Egypt, I told myself, ‘Hm, let’s see… that could be it…’ As always when ideas strike me like that, I sat down immediately and started typing away on my computer. Lo and behold, half an hour later, the first chapter had written itself apparently out of its own accord. Yes, the Frenchie was there; so was the Italian chap. After that initial thrust, the rest was mere fine-tuning. Who’s the victim? Who’s the murderer (something a murder mystery writer should know from the start, otherwise they’re doomed)? What’s the motive? How can I hide it till the end as to better mislead my readers? How can I make the other characters all look suspect? What’s the link? And how can I mix in a bit of romance, because let’s be honest: a cuter-than-thou Frenchie and a hot-as-they-come Italian dude not falling in love with each other would be a shameful waste, right?
Well, in a nutshell, that’s how this book was created. Just for the record: the photos helped a lot to describe the sites. As for the dust-catchers in my flat… they’re still there, catching dust. Oh, and no. I wasn’t allowed to stand next to the huge statues in Abu Simbel. I’m not Mia Farrow, after all.