Murder You Wrote with L J M Owen

Article | Nov 2023

Murder You Wrote: An Interactive Mystery is a choose-your-own-investigation murder mystery set in remote Tasmania, a world of stunning beauty, dark history and deadly creatures.

Good Reading caught up with the author, L J M OWEN, to chat about her latest crime book and how stories of the past have influenced her writing.

ABOUT THE BOOK

 

Murder She Wrote by L J M OwenMurder You Wrote: An Interactive Mystery is a choose-your-own-investigation murder mystery set in remote Tasmania, a world of stunning beauty, dark history and deadly creatures.

You are a retired police detective invited to speak at a crime fiction writers festival. You are looking forward to a weekend with some of Australia’s bestselling authors.

You’re staying in a convict-built country manor house along with five other guests of the festival. The other guests don’t exactly get along.

You awake to discover the homestead is cut off. Overnight, storms flooded the only road out, the internet is down…and a world-famous writer is missing.

You discover his body in the library. Certain that one of the four remaining guests was responsible for his death, you decide to investigate.

Which suspect will you interrogate first? Which clues will you follow? Can you solve the case?

Murder You Wrote features stories by Alison Alexander, Sarah Barrie,  Karen Brooks, Jack Cainery, R.B. Cole, Alan Carter, Natalie Conyer,  Craig Cormick, E.K. Cutting, Livia Day, Jo Dixon, Jacq Ellem, Jason Franks,  Narrelle M. Harris, Carys King, Angela Meyer, Allison Mitchell, David Owen,  L.J.M. Owen, Matthew D. Ruffin, E.V. Scott, Marion Stoneman,  Maggie Veness, Sarah White, and Z.E. Davidson.

 

MEET L J M OWEN

 

L J M Owen author crime AustralianYou are an author, librarian, archaeologist and also the Festival Director of the popular Terror Australis Readers and Writers Festival. In what order did you start these roles and how are they connected?

I’ve always been captivated by the mysteries of the past. My love for archaeology and ancient history started in childhood. This led me to earn a PhD in ancient human genetics.

However, the practicalities of life meant finding a desk job to pay the bills. I kept dreaming of working in a library, so decided to pursue a postgrad librarian degree. This was followed by a wonderful opportunity to spend time at the National Library of Australia. It was heaven.

The transition to writing crime and mystery novels was a natural one. I envisioned creating a series that combined my interests, and would serve as an escape for readers of Kathy Reichs, Patricia Cornwell, Josephine Tey, Elly Griffiths and Elizabeth Peters. Thus, the Dr Pimms series was born. It’s the story of an archaeologist-librarian solving ancient mysteries from around the globe.

The decision to move to Tasmania prior to writing books 3 and 4 in the series marked a significant turning point in my career. It was during this time that I attended the World Mystery Writers Convention, Bouchercon, in Canada. I was surrounded by 2000 enthusiastic, welcoming crime and mystery lovers. I met iconic authors including Ann Cleeves, Charlaine Harris and Sara Paretsky. The experience, along with invaluable insights from agent Jessica Faust, proved to be life-changing.

Inspired by Agatha Christie’s connection to Tasmania and my time at Bouchercon, I decided to found a Tasmanian crime and mystery literary festival – the Terror Australis Readers and Writers Festival.

 

Murder You Wrote by L J M Owen internal imageCan you tell us a bit about the plot of Murder You Wrote?

Murder You Wrote is a traditional murder mystery. The twist? The story’s interactive nature.

As the reader, you step into the shoes of the detective.

The story begins in remote Tasmania, a world of stunning beauty, dark history and deadly creatures. You are a retired police detective invited to speak at a crime fiction writers’ festival. You are looking forward to a weekend with some of Australia’s bestselling authors.

You’re staying in a convict-built country manor house along with five other guests of the festival. The other guests don’t exactly get along.

You awake to discover the homestead is cut off. Overnight, storms flooded the only road out, the internet is down…and a world-famous writer is missing.

You discover his body in the library.

Certain that one of the guests was responsible, you must now investigate his death. Your challenge is to solve the case before the end of the book …

 

It is a choose-your-own-investigation murder mystery. Can you tell us a bit about how this works?

It is an invitation to become the investigator and experience the excitement of solving a case your way.

The pick-your-path possibility allows readers to navigate through a web of suspects, motives and clues. At the end of each chapter you can read straight on, or choose from several options as to where to turn next.

This interactive element puts you in control, making choices that influence the direction of the story. With over 100 possible pathways, the challenge is not just to solve the case but to explore the numerous twists and turns the story offers.

 

How did you come up with the idea?

This innovative approach to Murder You Wrote was born out of a desire to write an engaging novel for avid mystery lovers and emerging adult readers alike, and to create opportunities for emerging writers along the way.

I loved choose-your-own-adventure books as a kid. I thought an updated, adult version might be just the thing. And with a Grade 5 reading level, it is suitable for a broad audience, including those working to improve their reading skills.

 

How complicated was it to work out so the readers can interact?

Creating an interactive mystery proved to be an intricate process. Over 20 writers contributed to the project, each bringing their unique storytelling style to the table. The challenge was to weave a consistent narrative that allows readers to choose their own investigative track.

The editorial team – Zoe Davidson, Em Cutting, Marion Stoneman, and Matt Ruffin – and I worked diligently to weave the draft chapters into a cohesive whole. Contributors including Karen Brooks, Eva Scott, and Natalie Conyer played a crucial role in helping to refine each storyline. Angela Meyer’s meticulous proofreading ensured a seamless reading experience.

And it worked. While each writer’s style shines through, the chapters in Murder You Wrote can be enjoyed as a single story or explored via a multitude of pathways. Even Ann Cleeves, an icon in the crime fiction world, didn’t spot the solution!

 

So what’s next? Are you planning a second choose-your-own-investigation murder mystery?

As much as I’d love to embark on a second volume of Murder You Wrote, my current focus is on breathing new life into the Dr Pimms archaeological mystery series.

Dr Elizabeth Pimms was on hiatus for five years due to changes at her publisher. This year, I got the rights back to her stories of forensic investigation and family secrets. I can’t wait to share more tales from Dr Pimms’ world of modern murders, ancient mysteries and forgotten women’s history.

In the meantime, I look forward to chatting with readers of Murder You Wrote. I’d love to know which path they choose, which clues they find, and if they work out whodunnit?

 

Visit L J M Owen’s website

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