John Curran © All Rights Reserved.
John Curran, a lifelong Christie fan, lives in Dublin. For many years he edited the official Agatha Christie Newsletter and acted as a consultant to the National Trust during the restoration of Greenway House, Dame Agatha's Devon home. John has been working with her grandson, Mathew Prichard, to establish the Agatha Christie Archive, and is currently writing a doctoral thesis on Agatha Christie at Trinity College, Dublin.
RECENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
1. When did you read you first 'Christie'?
The first Christie I read, when I was 12, was Peril at End House. I was immediately captivated and went on to read every Christie in the local library. I consider Peril at End House one of the Top 10 Christie titles. It is a perfectly constructed detective story, told simply, economically and with great cunning.
2. What's your favorite book, character and movie-/Tv-adaption of Christie's work? And why?
· My favourite book is Five Little Pigs, which I discuss at length in Secret Notebooks; it is a very clever detective story as well as a poignant novel with a fascinating narrative structure – and it is set in Greenway, Agatha Christie’s home.
· My favourite character (apart from Poirot and Miss Marple) is Ariadne Oliver, as I feel when I am listening to her speaking that I am hearing Agatha Christie.
· My favourite TV adaptation is David Suchet's Five Little Pigs, an emotionally compelling adaptation of my favourite book (although I disapprove of the inaccurate hanging scene). My favourite cinema adaptation is Murder on the Orient Express, a lavish, glamorous version of a very clever novel with a wonderful cast recreating the book as Agatha Christie wrote it – a fact often overlooked by current adapters.
3. When did you decide to write the Notebooks book on Agatha Christie and how/where did you met Mathew for the first time?.
I met Mathew Prichard in Calgary; we had both travelled there to see the first-ever performance of Chimneys, the stage version of The Secret of Chimneys. While there Mathew issued an invitation to Greenway House and when we visited it a few months later I read the Notebooks and realised that this was one of the last aspects of Agatha Christie that had not been examined in any detail. I approached HarperCollins, who had published Christie for 80 years and they said ’Yes, please’.
4. How many copies of your book are being sold? And how many translated in other languages?
The book has been (or is being) translated into 17 languages. At present (June 2010) it has appeared in US, Japan and Spain (where it is being reprinted) and the other countries will follow, most of them before the end of 2010; and the paperback is due in UK in early August. I have done interviews for websites and magazines in Finland, Spain, US, Brazil, UK – and now Holland
5. In what way readers must use your books? I think they have to read every single 'Christie' first because of some mentioned plots.
Ideally it should be read alongside the reading of the Christie output. But I think it is possible to read my book without spoiling any unread books as I give a warning before I reveal solutions. And if you leave a while before reading your next Christie you will probably have forgotten the details!
6. What's the 'mystery' of Agatha Christie's popularity throughout the world in your opinion?
I try to analyse this in my book. I think it is a combination of readability and plotting – the ability to tell a clever (but not too clever) story and make the reader want to turn the page by the use of simple language, recognisable characters and, very importantly, all the time remembering to be fair to the reader. And another significant factor that is no longer the case – most of her titles are around 200 pages and not the 500/600 pages that are considered necessary nowadays. In summary, nobody else did it so often, so well and for so long – it’s that simple.
7. I heard you are working on a second 'Notebooks' book. When it will be published and what can you tell about it?
It is due for publication in September 2011 and it will include the 25 novels not covered by the first book, as well as some more short stories, plays and the unknown radio plays, the Westmacott novels, the Autobiography and some travel. Further examples of Unused Ideas, this time more elaborate ones, and although there are no more unpublished short stories it will include some previously unpublished Christie material and a Poirot surprise......
8. You are widely seen as one of Agatha's greatest admirers around the globe. Do you have your own Agatha Christie collection? If so, can you tell something about this collection? Do you collect books, letters, films etc.
I was never bitten by the first-edition ‘bug’ although I have a few, including signed copies. I have a vast collection of cuttings from newspapers and magazines, every book written about her, TV and film scripts, radio and film adaptations including Russian, French, Italian, German and Hindi versions! And memorabilia ranging from stamps and theatre programmes to mugs and t-shirts! But my most precious items are, without doubt, the photocopies of her Notebooks.