This book and design project was the culmination of a lifelong interest in the works of Agatha Christie, the next stage appeared to be to create a much needed book. With some years of experience in photography for book catalogues and book-selling and publishing in general I was well placed to pioneer this project.
I dreamt of a book that could indulge in the full splendour of period lifestyle, typefaces and graphics of the dust jackets of the original books, historic locations and modern landscapes, that still bring her plots to life today. After two year’s work on the proposal and our agent applying to publishers, my co-author, a former colleague and I were accepted. I was additionally commissioned to design this magnum opus myself. At a final size of 224 pages with over 260 colour photographs and an eternal list of permissions on a minimal budget, this was no small task.
In an interview for the UCL magazine by Clare Bowerman, I recalled part of the experience of gathering material: “The book didn’t have a big budget for hiring pictures, so I just thought I’d ask a local flying club to take me up and I’d get some aerial pictures myself,” says Vanessa, who sounds unperturbed by the whole experience. As an afterthought she adds: “There were safety issues, I suppose, and moving your head too much with the camera makes you pretty airsick, but it was an amazing experience.”
The result was certainly as near to the book as we both wanted, given the constraints and everyone was delighted with it, including Chorion plc, owners of Agatha Christie Ltd. All the contributors were very generous and without them it could not have happened. The book and jacket were constructed on QuarkExpress 6, with Adobe Photoshop imports, on five colour layers, the text being on a spot layer. The illustrations were a mixture of scans, or photographs produced on my Nikon and Hasselblad. Much planning on spreadsheets was necessary to construct a balance between the material available against the requirements. When finished my discs were sent to Singapore where the final product was completed ready and printed, shipped back to Southampton and distribution began. An exciting process.
- Reviews: Choice magazine: ‘This brilliantly illustrated book, full of period memorabilia, sets each of Agatha Christie’s novels into the context of the author’s life, her experience and her travels. It’s pure delight for Christie fans.’
- Good Book Guide: ‘The authors have produced a highly entertaining guide to the Queen of Crime. The text is economical but on the nail and is matched with cherishable illustrations: vintage jackets and images of the lady herself.’
- This England: ‘Wagstaff and Poole’s work has become a ‘must-have’ item for the Christie collector’.
- Book and Magazine Collector. ‘This book is definitely one you will want to make space for in your library…this marvellously presented volume provides a fascinating insight into her work….the book is also a splendid celebration of the ‘civilised criminal world’ she created.
- As a result I was asked to contribute to a documentary on Agatha Christie, ‘There’s Something About Christie‘ presented by James Fox. 14 clips were used for the hour length programme.