Posts Tagged ‘mystery books’

Q&A for Mystery Lovers

Monday, October 5th, 2009

Rosalind Hutchinson is a perennial favorite with Smithsonian travelers. A veteran Blue Badge Guide, she is adept at interweaving layers of English history, architecture, and literature. Here, she talks about the educational philosophy with which she approaches her role as Study Leader for Smithsonian Journeys. Click here to read more about Ros and traveling with her.

Smithsonian Journeys: Ros, you have been leading Smithsonian travelers in England for years. In your mind, what distinguishes the Smithsonian Journeys travelers from others?

Rosalind Hutchinson: It’s the way that everyone becomes so interactive with each other. With Smithsonian groups, there is rediscovery of oneself and getting to know like-minded people. It’s the learning and the pleasure of the learning experience that brings everyone together. There is great mutual respect among our travelers. I particularly enjoy meeting the Smithsonian travelers and being the catalyst for their enjoyment of the experience. And together we enjoy spontaneous humor!

SJ: How do you make your tours come alive for our travelers?

RH: You have to assess your audience and select material appropriately. I use visual dissection. For example, take a Canaletto painting of Venice. We analyze it, divide it, and explore its texture, form, and balance (of the people and buildings, the space of sky and water). I awaken the senses, especially the visual. This and other techniques facilitate interaction and allow the travelers to experience intellectual companionship.

SJ: You have led our Mystery Lover’s England tour for many years. What is it about this combination of mystery novels, art theft, and the 1920s era that makes these tours so successful?

RH: People who read mysteries wish to submerge themselves into the problem of the mystery and are also wishing to get out of and beyond themselves and use their own imagination. Similar to the C.S. Lewis Narnia Chronicles and Harry Potter, they are transported to a different world. They rediscover and develop their imagination and are inspired to become writers in their own right. Part of the mystery tour is asking the authors about how they got the ideas for their books and the answers often inspire the travelers to go home and write their own! Once, several travelers produced a quiz on what had been learned on the tour and had meetings late into the night to plot their own books. It became very club-like and they were very excited. For those who aspire to being writers, this is an inspirational trip!

Who is your favorite mystery author? Share  below.

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A Novel Journey

Wednesday, March 18th, 2009

Lourdes Fernandez is an avid traveler, reader, and photographer. She recently joined Smithsonian Journeys on our Mystery Lovers tour. Click here to see her bio.

A deserted beach in Northumberland. Photo: Lourdes Fernandez

A deserted beach in Northumberland. Photo: Lourdes Fernandez

“They were at the southern end of a long sweep of beach, about four miles long. At the northern end it swung into a narrow promontory where the lighthouse stood, almost lost to view in the haze … Julie stopped again. There was that salt breeze that you only ever get by the sea.”
- Hidden Depths, Ann Cleeves

Authors write from their imagination, but they also write from what they knowespecially the places they’ve been. As a two-time Smithsonian Journeys traveler on their mystery tours, I’ve walked through Morse’s Oxford, Dalgliesh’s London, and Rebus’ Scotland. On one particular blustery day in September, a group of us found ourselves gingerly negotiating a British stile for the first time and walking a deserted beachalmost the very same described by British author Ann Cleeves, who sets some of her books in the windswept coastal villages of Northumberland.

It was a simple thing, but for our mystery buff group, it was an adventurenot the usual type of tourist activity. And that’s what sets these tours apart. Let others walk the museums, our mystery buffs will walk the moors of The Hound of Baskervilles, or find the spot amid the Oxford colleges (at least approximately) where Lord Peter Wimsey proposes to Harriet Vane in Gaudy Night. At the right time, Study Leader Rosalind Hutchison will whip out a book from her voluminous briefcase and read the appropriate passage, putting us at the scene of the crime, as it were.