On Thursday, March 2 at 10 p.m. PT, KCET, the nation's largest independent public television station, will begin airing quirky British mystery show Agatha Raisin starring Ashley Jensen ("Extras, The Lobster, Ugly Betty"). (Agatha Raisin will also be available for streaming episodes 14 days after the original telecast.) Join the conversation on social media using #AgathaRaisin
The show is based on the novels of the same name, written by New York Times Best Selling Author M.C. Beaton. In addition to the Agatha Raisin series, Beaton has published several romance, stand-alone mysteries and crime novels including the Hamish Macbeth series and Edwardian Murder Mysteries. I was lucky enough to have M.C. Beaton answer a few questions for me - see those below.
"In the television show series opener, the prickly but likeable London-based public relations executive finds herself burnt out on office politics and jumps at the change to retire early to a picturesque village in the Cotswold's. But she soon finds a second career as an amateur detective investigating mischief, mayhem and murder in her new deceptively quaint town, when Agatha's entry in a quiche-baking contest kills the judge."
What was the impetus for creating Agatha - is she based on anyone you know? A bit of yourself? And where did her name spring from?
"My editor at St. Martin’s Press. Hope Dellon, wanted a Cotswold detective story and so Agatha Raisin was born. Agatha – I was thinking of P.G.Wodehouse’s formidable Aunt Agatha and Raisin for wrinkles. A bit of myself, yes. But I really wanted an anti-heroine, someone like Becky Sharp in Vanity Fair that you might not like but would like to win through in the end."
How much of the settings and characters of the Raisin series are based on your own experience living in the Cotswolds?
"All the settings are based on my love of the Cotswolds but the characters all come from my imagination."
Now, I admit, I have a favourite character - but do you enjoy writing one series more than the other?
"I don’t enjoy writing one series more than the other. When I’m with Hamish, I forget Agatha and the other way around."
Are you excited to see Agatha come to television? Have you been on set as a consultant or observer? Have you met Ashley Jensen? Does she fit your image of what Agatha should be?
"The reason I was pleased that Agatha was televised was because the film company handling it was Mammoth Television, responsible for Endeavour, Miss Marple, Hornblower and so on. I was invited to all the read throughs. Ashley Jensen does not look like Agatha in the books but she plays the character perfectly. She is not only a brilliant actress but a very warm-hearted woman."
Where do your ideas spring from? When and where do you do your writing? You've written scores of books - any plans to slow down?
"If you write as much as I have, you develop a sort of muscle in the brain which is always writing something and if I stop writing, discomfort sets in. I plan to slow down after the next five years or so." You can connect with M.C. Beaton on her website and like her on Facebook.
I'm looking forward to watching the Agatha Raisin series - don't forget, tune in time is Thursday, March 2 at 10 p.m. PT on KCET.