Agatha Christie’s Career Choices

I love Agatha Christie books–she writes so cleverly, I’ve never figured out what happened before she revealed the answer at the end. Crafting a mystery with a surprising, satisfying conclusion that isn’t obvious, while feeding readers clues all along without most of them guessing the ending can’t be easy. As a fiction writer, she also had to contend with the challenge of making characters seem realistic. People behave irrationally all the time in real life, in ways that readers won’t accept in fictional characters. A novel writer has to give solid reasons for their characters’ actions and decisions. Maybe that’s the source of the old adage, Truth is stranger than Fiction.

Besides writing (non-fiction) books, I’m a career coach. Sometimes I help people decide what to do after school, sometimes I help them get through a hard situation, or get promoted, or find ways to make their job more enjoyable. I really like working with people who want to change careers. Whether the change is voluntary or not, it takes courage to leave a role or a field you’ve been in for a long time to do something new.

And today I learned that Agatha Christie was a career changer! It’s really incredible. This picture of her is from 1906, when she was in Paris. She studied piano and singing there and she wanted to be a musician.

“My first love was music. I wanted to be a pianist…I was very disappointed when I found out that I would never be good enough to be a professional. My voice was not strong enough for opera and I was too nervous to succeed as a pianist.”

I can’t help but wonder if Agatha Christie would have been a great pianist or singer if no one had discouraged her. Still, I’m so glad she decided to write. Think what the world would have missed.

Beneath her picture, I’ll tell you a short personal mystery that Agatha Christie helped solve.

Agatha Christie in Paris 1906 

Several years ago, Agatha Christie books helped me solve a real mystery.

It’s not a terribly exciting murder at someone’s country estate. But here goes! I was staying with my best friend for a few days. I was scheduled to have surgery and because I get nauseous, they gave me a scopolamine patch to put behind my ear, before the surgery. It required a prescription to get because scopolamine is created from belladonna, which is a poisonous plant that has a lot of legitimate medical uses. I put it on that morning and not long afterward, the surgeon’s office called. The surgeon had the flu and the appointment was cancelled.

I forgot about the scopolamine patch. It didn’t come off in the shower, and after a day or two, I noticed something strange happening. My pupils were really dilated and whatever I looked at looked wavy and at times, I was seeing double.

I was telling Kristin (my friend) about it and suddenly I remembered one of Agatha Christie’s books: The Caribbean Mystery. Someone in the book was poisoned with belladonna and her eyes dilated and her vision changed. Then I remembered: the scopolamine patch! I took it off and within a couple of hours, my vision was normal again.

You see Agatha Christie is still solving mysteries as late as 2016!