Alternate episode title: Magic goat sword (it will make sense if you listen!)

If you’re planning a murder, always have a koala with you!

Works of fiction are rarely confined to a single genre, especially when it comes to speculative fiction. There are sci-fi westerns, historical fantasies, and comedy horrors. Many science fiction, fantasy, and horror novels use the mystery sub-genre, from China Miéville’s The City and The City to Jasper Fforde’s The Eyre Affair.

Unravelling mysteries: Con posterMysteries can take many forms, from the downtrodden private eye of the noir persuasion, to an amnesiac trying to piece their life back together. Whether it is unravelling a conspiracy or finding answers about their own lives, mysteries can be an excellent tool for hooking the reader and pushing a protagonist along on their journey.

When it comes to exploring mysteries, is there any difference between our Poirots and Mrs Marples? Do men and women approach solving conspiracies in different ways? After all, this wouldn’t be a Breaking the Glass Slipper panel without a certain gender preoccupation!

I think my subconscious is looking after me because I’m an idiot.

Claire North is the pen name for the Carnegie-nominated Catherine Webb, who also writes under the name Kate Griffin. Her recent novel The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August was selected for the Richard and Judy Book Club, the Waterstones Book Club and the Radio 2 Book Club. Catherine currently works as a theatre lighting designer and is a fan of big cities, urban magic, Thai food and graffiti-spotting. She lives in London. Her latest novel is 84K.

RJ Barker lives in Leeds with his wife, son and a collection of questionable taxidermy, odd art, scary music and more books than they have room for. He grew up reading whatever he could get his hands on, and has always been ‘that one with the book in his pocket’. Having played in a rock band before deciding he was a rubbish musician, RJ returned to his first love, fiction, to find he is rather better at that. As well as his debut epic fantasy novel, Age of Assassins, RJ has written short stories and historical scripts which have been performed across the country. He has the sort of flowing locks any cavalier would be proud of.

Blood of Assassins

King of Assassins

Texts and authors mentioned in this episode include: