The Mystery Of Writing A Mystery

I have started work on the fifth PorterGirl novel and, like its predecessors, it contains a liberal smattering of mystery mingled among the humour, action and oblique nonsense. But the biggest mystery of this manuscript is the mystery itself. Let me explain…

The PorterGirl novels are adapted from my now-defunct blog, Secret Diary Of PorterGirl, which parodied my life as the first female Deputy Head Porter at a famous Cambridge college, albeit with a large helping of artistic license. Before taking down the blog to concentrate on the books, I collated all the posts and arranged them into groupings of novels and chapters and whatnot and tucked them away on my hard drive, to be revisited and revived as I wrote the books. This system has worked flawlessly. Up until now.

By some strange quirk of technology (surely it cannot be human error…) the draft of the fifth novel (first written in 2015) is irritatingly incomplete. And not just irritatingly incomplete, it is incomplete in the most mystifying manner. There are two chapters that are inexplicably omitted. Only their titles remain, lonely and confused atop empty pages. The preceding chapter ends with our heroine off to speak to a fellow character in the College Chapel. Blank pages titled ‘Going To The Chapel’ and ‘Hitting The Right Notes’ follow. The story picks up with all our main characters agape at a mysterious threatening letter, written in blood. Something pretty exciting obviously occurred during these two chapters, but what?! Also, the final chapter has disappeared into the ether.

The penultimate chapter ends, tantalisingly, with The Dean informing our heroine – ‘There is something you should know about the Music Professor…’

O M and actual G, what do we need to know about the Music Professor?!

I haven’t made it all the way through this draft as yet, so perhaps more episodes of literary amnesia await me. I have no choice but to pick apart the remainder of the draft to work out what might have occurred, not to mention what might be quite so important about this Music Professor (who, like these elusive chapters, has also gone missing).

And so you see, this mystery is as much a mystery to its humble author as it is to its future readers. Which I think, perhaps, is the very best way for any mystery to begin.

(Also – keep an eye out for some superb PorterGirl special offers coming up next week!)

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