luxken27: (SVH - Evil Elizabeth)
LuxKen27 ([personal profile] luxken27) wrote2011-05-24 08:24 pm

Jonathan Creek | Oneshot: One Foot in the Grave

Title: One Foot in the Grave
Fandom: Jonathan Creek
Universe: Canon
Genre: Suspense/Mystery
Rating: T
Word Count: 3,303
Summary: Jonathan and Maddy puzzle through the clues at the crime scene of their latest twisted mystery – a seemingly impossible murder, committed in an abandoned cemetery.

Links: | LJ | DW | AO3

This is the first of my two commissions for [ profile] help_japan, written for the winning bidder, [ profile] myxstorie.

Talk about a challenge.

When I posted my offer to [ profile] help_japan, I asked for a prompt from which to write the winning story, because if left to my own devices...well, let's just say I'm not to fastest draw in the west, LOL. A total stranger won the auction, and this is what she gave me in the way of a prompt:

I'd really love something spooky/creepy 8D and Jonathan/Maddie was always my favourite pairing in the show, although I love their unresolved tension too <3 As a prompt... how about the theme music? Whether you want to take the general shiver-down-your-spine feel it gives when you listen to it as the prompt, or the story behind it (about Death playing the piece on Halloween, and the skeletons rising to dance with him) as the prompt :D

Hmm...supernatural and creepy? That's definitely out of my realm of expertise, LOL. And I always use music as my inspiration, so this wasn't exactly the most helpful prompt in the world, but I ran with it.

Though I enjoy reading (and watching) a good mystery, I've always kinda instinctively known I'd be pretty shit at writing mysteries - my brain just doesn't work that way. To me, in order to write a good, twist-y, plot turn-y story, you have to know the plot forwards and backwards, really map everything out so you know where to throw in those hints - both foreshadowing and red herrings :P I'm not someone who plots my stories down to the last detail, as I've found that last-minute puzzlement can really made a scene golden, so the idea of writing something mysterious and creepy and potentially supernatural was already a tall order. And then, there was the quality of the canon I'm writing for - David Renwick is bloody brilliant, and his character of Jonathan Creek is one of my absolute favorites. I love him, but I never feel like I can really do him justice, because he is so intelligent and so quirky, making leaps of logic and thinking around corners the way he does. So really, I had to come up with a plot and then figure out how to slice and dice it, LOL.

In watching (and rewatching) the first three series of Jonathan Creek, however, I noticed that somewhere between Series 2 and 3, the plots started to become really outlandish, the explanations of which were starting to require more and more suspension of disbelief. So when I decided to take the idea of the danse macabre and run with it, I was a little nervous - until I rewatched the final season with Maddy, and then I felt a little better, LOL. Maybe this would be within the realm of possibility after all, if I could find just the right angle...

And, quite frankly, I was only due to write 1000 words, so I didn't really want to start this long, involved, multichapter story, which is what a proper mystery would entail ~ so I cut to the chase. Figuring out my crime was actually fairly easy, after reading up on JC, David Renwick, and the locked-room mysteries the series was based upon. The setting of an old London graveyard seemed creepy enough to me, especially if I could weave in the myth of the danse macabre, the devil coming to earth on All Hallows Eve, raising the dead and making them dance to his tune. If our characters were desperate enough to see for themselves whether or not such an event could take place...well, their minds would be open enough to any tiny thrill of the supernatural :P

I ultimately decided to write the scene I'd come up with in coming up with the crime - Jonathan and Maddy standing in the graveyard where the victim was found, puzzling over the clues and having everything slide into place. How many times has something suddenly made sense, once Jonathan had been able to inspect the scene? He always notices the tiniest details that others overlook. Bringing together all of the elements, disproving the fantastical in favor of the calculating - yes, this is the best part of the series, in my view =)

I decided to set this in Highgate Cemetery, a very famous London landmark. It was *the* place to be buried back in the Victorian era (though the first half of the 20th century), and there are quite a few (in)famous graves - including Karl Marx in the east side, who I thought would make a very interesting devilish stand-in, LOL. Usually it costs a small fee to visit the cemetery, hence Maddy's desire to sneak in under the cover of darkness.

The crime itself unravels by the end of the fic, so I won't spoil anyone (I hope) who hasn't yet read the story, but I did literally put it together backwards: the victim, the scene, and then the explanation for how it happened. I always wanted to include a tarot card, but I had a hard time deciding which one - which lead to some very interesting reading on the history of tarot, and the meanings of the cards today =) My primary source for the ultimate choice of cards was this book, which appears to be from the UK. I liked the designs of these cards, and the explanations of their meanings, but a cursory search around the internets seems to disagree with both. Here are the pages for the card I ultimately chose as the killer's signature: page one | page two. The author never really specifies which deck she's using, but it's not the most popular one - so any mistakes in the interpretation of the card I take solely unto myself.

Hmm...otherwise, there are a few nods to canon sprinkled throughout the story. I wanted to write something that showcased Jonathan's and Maddy's friendship, and by the end of Series 2, they had settled some of their romantic tension. I love their witty back-and-forths, though, and it took a couple of listens to the episodes to really pick up on that sort of banter, but hopefully, even if the actual story itself fails, the conversation holds up :P Maddy takes a dig at Jonathan's habit of badger watching, which was a key theme in the second-series two-part episode "The Problem at Gallows Gate" (which you can start watching here). One thing about the series itself, it contrasts its dark mystery material with some surprisingly light comedy, especially when Adam Klaus became a regular side character :D

Oh, yes - and the title itself is a little homage to David Renwick's other famous British series, One Foot in the Grave.

If you give this one a try, I hope you enjoy it! It was certainly a lot harder than my last gift!fic, but in the end, I'm pretty satisfied with my first stab at writing these genres.