The idea for the Arabella Beaumont series sprang from an ongoing annoyance of mine. Frequently, I find myself leaving for the bus stop in the morning, with my coat on, ready to go...and nothing to read. This may sound odd, coming from a woman with over 2,000 books in her personal library, but it can’t be just any book, you see. A traveling book has to be lightweight, in both senses of the word, and small enough to fit into a pocket. It must be engaging in a way that won’t distract me too much from the business of getting onto the precise bus which will take me to my destination. (I am not a multi-tasker.) It should also be cheap, and a paperback, so that I won’t feel bad if the pages get a bit crumpled in transit.
I have a few books like this, but I’ve read them already. And they’re getting harder to find these days. (I should have mentioned that I’m also very picky. My books of choice must be well-written, with interesting characters and a plot of some kind. And I ‘mutht be amuthed,’ though I theldom am, these days; amusing books seem to be out of fashion. So, in the end, I had to write my own. It’s not perfect; the dimensions are 8 ¼” x 5 ½” rather than 7”x 4 ¼,” and it’s not as cheap as I’d imagined. I was envisioning my 1959 copy of The Manchurian Candidate, which cost $1.50 new. Probably not too realistic nowadays. But in all other respects, Death and the Courtesan is exactly what I’ve been looking for – good for up to 10 bus trips to and from work. And of course, it’s a paperback.
There is just one problem: I’ve already read it.