Monday, June 20, 2011
Kerry Greenwood - Miss Fisher's Murder Mysteries - Interview
"Have you met Phryne Fisher?" It seems we will and very soon. Fans of Kerry Greenwood and particularly fans of her enchanting protagonist the Hon. Miss Phryne Fisher will no doubt be as excited as I was to learn that next year the ABC will be airing a 13 part series based on these popular novels.
I had a chat with Kerry about it...
Will you be involved in any way during the production of the series?
YES! I saw all the auditions and I entirely agree with their choice of Essie [Davis]. She reminds me of a young Diana Rigg. Her voice and her self assurance are perfect.
Where did the idea for the character of Phryne Fisher originate?
She walked into my life in a tram on Brunswick Street Melbourne just after I had got a 2 book contract. A perfect 1928 woman. It's as though I met her. By the time i got off the tram we were friends.
You seem happy with the casting of Essie Davis as Phryne. Do you know who makes up the rest of the cast? I would love to know who will play Dot and Cec and Bert.
Hey, me too, but I dont know about Dot, Bert or Cec.
When you wrote Cocaine Blues did you ever envision Phryne jumping from page to screen? How do you feel about it now that it¹s going to happen?
I held out firmly against a film because of the V I Warsharski film, which had such a bad effect on the author (she [Sara Paretsky] gave up writing V I) I dont want that to happen to me, film has power and creation comes from the imagination. I cant afford to let mine become contaminated. I always thought they would make good TV movies but I wouldnt sign until I got someone I trusted.
Was there a reason behind you choosing 1920s Melbourne as the backdrop for the series? How important is research to your writing? What is the most important thing to 'get right' when writing historic fiction?
I have to get everything right, or as right as I can. Luckily there is a lot of research material available, esp newspapers. Police reports. Maps. I adore doing research and from the research springs the book, I cant do one without the other. Phryne arises like Aphrodite from the ocean of fact. I have abandoned plots and ideas because I could not find out enough about them to convince me. If it doesnt convince me, it isnt going to convince anyone else. It's 1928 because I researched a Legal History thesis on the 1928 waterfront strike (my dad was a wharfie) and I knew a lot about that year.
The murder-mystery television series genre is popular in the UK, why do you think it's taken so long for an Australian producer to decide to bring a character like Phryne to the screen?
Historical stuff costs 30% more a day to make - that might be it. I know that funding has to be gathered from a lot of sources. And the English have rejected the Phryne novels for some reason. Whereas the US really likes them. No accountiing for tastes...
Is there any chance of a second season if the first series is a hit?
That's what they say. I'd better write more books. Actually I have this idea and am researching the Unemployed Womens' Movement, the brothel scene in Melbourne, and the Abbotsford Convent at present. No idea how or why, but it's worked nineteen times already so I trust the process.
Are you currently writing a new Phryne Fisher mystery?
I usually am... She's now in high summer 1929 and the economic situation is starting to look grim.
Do you know which of your stories will be brought to the screen next year? Do you have a personal favourite that you are looking forward to seeing brought to life?
All the ones which are set entirely in Melbourne, so not Castlemaine Murders, which is sort of my favourite. Actually I like all of them. Another favourite is probably - er.... well, I dont know. Raisins and Almonds, perhaps. It is solved in the last line of the book. A surpise to me, too.
If there was one thing you would want the producers to get right with the adaptation from page to screen what would it be and why?
The relations between Bert and Cec, and between Phryne and Dot. They are key. But they have the right Phryne, she's perfect, she even LOOKS like Phryne but more importantly she sounds like Phryne and she moves like Phryne. She'll manage it. And the scripts I have seen have been excellent. They are letting me check for dialect mistakes and historical errors, and I am very grateful. One Okay would drive me right up the wall...
Miss Fisher's Murder Mysteries has its own facebook page here.
Find out more about the delightful Phryne Fisher here.
I interview Kerry about her reading habits here.