Liz Fielding Talks About Theme In Writing

 Author Liz Fielding talks about the importance of 'Theme' in writing. She has a new book out this month, Murder Among the Roses

Liz Fieding 

Liz Fielding met her husband when they were both working in Zambia and were keen members of the Lusaka Theatre Club. He was playing John de Stogumber in St Joan, and she was the pageboy to the Earl of Warwick. He swore it was the purple tights that got him.
Years spent in Africa and the Middle East provided the background to many of Liz's romances. Her first, An Image of You, was set in Kenya, in a place where they had spent many happy weekends on safari. It was plucked from the slush pile because the feisty feminist heroine made her editor laugh. Emotion touched with humour has been the hallmark of her work ever since.
After writing 70 books for Harlequin Mills and Boon, Liz has now turned to crime, signing with Joffe Books for three "Maybridge Mysteries", the first of which, Murder Among the Roses, is published on 18th April.

 Liz Fielding on the web:

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I recently heard a talk on the subject of crime writing by Vaseem Khan, Chair of the British Crime Writers' Association and author of two series of detective novels set in India.

He made the point that every book should have a theme and that set me wondering about the theme for the two books so far written in my new Maybridge Mysteries series, Murder Among the Roses and Murder With Mistletoe (to be published this autumn).

So what, exactly, is a theme?

He explained that it's not an idea, or a plot or even a genre.

The Unexpected Inheritance of Inspector Chopra

The theme of a book is not what happens in the story; it refers to its deeper meaning, the complex ideas that are driving the narrative.

One of the examples he gave was Jurassic Park, by Michael Crichton. It's an adventure, a thriller, science fiction and there's a touch of horror in there, too, but the theme is about what happens when technology is used unchecked.

This is especially relevant today with the big discussion about AI and I'm confident that we'll see any number of books on the subject – not just non-fiction, but crime, thrillers and doomsday scenarios – appearing before very long.

It's going to be big and I have no doubt that film companies will be optioning books on the subject left, right and centre. If it's your thing, go for it!

Blacktop Wasteland by S A Cosby is about race relations, as is John Grisham's A Time to Kill, another huge theme, while Still Life by Louise Penny is about small communities.

Classic literary themes include coming of age, good against evil, identity, justice, loneliness, family, corruption. I'm sure you can all match those to favourite books, but watch for themes in what you're reading now. Take the time to see how it's threaded through the text and feeds the story.

And it's not just best-selling mainstream fiction where you'll find important themes.

Romantic fiction is much bigger than the simplistic boy meets girl, loses girl, gets girl or the instalust scenarios that tend to be ridiculed in the popular press by journalists too lazy to see beyond the hook titles. 

While the story's concept will be love, theme is what it says about the love of those two individuals. 

The continuing popularity of the genre attests to the fact that even short series books deal with the widest range of human emotional experience. Loss, separation, grief, sacrifice are all there, told with passion and emotion.

Pamela (virtue rewarded) by Samuel Richardson was published in 1740 and Henry Fielding's Tom Jones (the search for identity - and Albert Finney is the reason I wore a poet shirt and buckle shoes in my teens) is getting a new television outing for the Bridgerton generation.

Finding your theme will give a focus for your writing. A thread to follow through the labyrinth to the heart of your story.

The inspiration for my first crime novel was a documentary by the Open University about the appalling treatment of poor, uneducated women in the last century. While I hadn't consciously thought of a theme, it was there from the beginning.

Violence against women. 

Not murder but abuse and mental violence by powerful men, and by the state. Thankfully coercive control has recently been recognised in law as a crime, but poor, uneducated women are still likely to find themselves in jail – usually as the result of manipulation by a man, Not speculation on my part. A family member worked for some time for the prison service and, visiting prisons as part of her job, she witnessed this at first hand.

Murder Among the Roses, published by Joffe Books, is the first in the Maybridge Murder series by Liz Fielding.


In the peaceful Cotswolds village of Maybridge, you wouldn’t expect to find a dead body in the rose garden. And certainly not two.

Abby is horrified to discover the bones of a baby buried under a rose bush. It’s in the garden of her soon-to-be ex-husband Howard’s family home.

She immediately calls the police. But she can’t get hold of Howard. He’s off on a jolly with the woman he’s got pregnant.

And then, just two days later, Abby finds Howard himself.
Lying dead in the very same rose garden.
Throat slashed with her own garden spade.

Now Abby is the prime suspect . . .

Fans of Faith Martin, Jane Adams, Frances Evesham, M.C. Beaton, Clare Chase or Jeanne M. Dams will love this addictive cozy mystery!

Brilliant gardener and the busy mum of three, Abby Finch’s dreams of winning gold at Chelsea Flower Show were put on hold by an unplanned pregnancy and marriage. But she wouldn’t have it any other way. These days she’s kept on her toes looking by her beloved family, running her own business and dealing with her imminent divorce. In an effort to keep things cordial, she’s allowed her ex to bully her into restoring the garden of his family home. Thankfully she’s surrounded herself with a great group of friends to lean on.

Pretty Maybridge is a charming village set in the sheep-dotted Cotswolds hills, with a long history stretching back to Tudor times. It’s the type of place where everyone knows each other, but there's a wonderful bookshop on the corner of the bridge, a popular riverside café and a bustling market at Christmastime. And with Bristol nearby and a big supermarket round the corner.

Buy on:

Amazon Kindle            Amazon UK           Amazon Aust

Watch the trailer for a teaser of the story...


  1. Ooh, this sounds like a good one.

  2. Sounds good, thanks Liz for explaining the importance of a theme

    1. Thank you, Christine. I hope you found it helpful.

  3. Although, readers may find their own theme when they read your work. It's funny what readers pick up that authors may not necessarily intend.

  4. That's true. Authors whose books become part of a school syllabus are often confounded by what is taught about them. (Never going to happen to me!)

  5. I must admit when I used to write essays and were asked about themes of books, I've never liked it:) Thanks for this feature!

  6. Welcome, Emmylou. I hope it helps.

  7. Hello, Liz. Thank you for sharing your thoughts and good luck with your new book.

  8. Interesting! Thank you, and blessings to you, yours, and your writing joy and success.

  9. Thank you for sharing these reviews, I am looking for another book to read.

  10. What an interesting post. It gave me a lot to think about. ~Jess


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