I’ve never written a blog before. Millions of words of fiction, but never a blog. Or a diary, if it comes to that. I’ve begun plenty of times, but after a few weeks my efforts peter out. Perhaps after working all day on my books, it’s just too much like a busman’s holiday!
But now I’ve promised myself that I really will do this. An update for my webpage every two or three weeks. I’ll try, I promise. I really will try …
This seems a really good time to start. My new book, A SONG AT SUNSET, is due to be published in hardback at the beginning of March (paperback will hit the shops in August) and I’ve just begun work on my next novel. It doesn’t have a title as yet, but, like A SONG AT SUNSET and DANCE WITH WINGS, will be a saga spanning the generations, with a World War II love affair at its heart. After tackling the ATA in DANCE WITH WINGS and the girls who drove the Red Cross ambulances in A SONG AT SUNSET, this time the wartime background is going to be the SOE, the incredibly brave souls who went to Occupied and Vichy France to help the Resistance and carry out other highly dangerous operations to help defeat the Nazis. As always at this stage, the whole task of plotting, researching and writing the book seems very daunting. I’m still at the stage of getting to know my characters, and the best way to do that is to actually write. They then take on a life of their own and tell their story with a bit of nagging from me.
I’ve been writing the first few chapters on holiday in Madeira. I love writing when I’m on holiday – no distractions, like telephone calls, or should I hang out (or get in) the washing, or what are we going to have for dinner? Just a balcony in the sun with a glass of wine at my elbow and the happy prospect of a swim when I’ve finished and a nice meal that I didn’t have to shop for or cook. I always write every word on an A4 pad with a pencil before transferring it to my computer, so I don’t have to take a laptop with me (not that I have a laptop, in any case) and I can just enjoy losing myself in the world of my imagination.
Madeira is wonderful. Particularly, I always think, in January. Particularly this year, with all the snow we had at home. We were doubtful, actually, if we were going to make it at all. Snowed in, with more forecast for the day we were to travel, and numerous flights cancelled. But in the end everything worked like clockwork. We were able to get to Bristol airport, took off on time, and arrived in Madeira earlier than expected because of a following wind.
For the first week, the weather was disappointing. A whole lot warmer than England, but mostly overcast, with a few wet days. Apparently they had been suffering this very unusual situation for about 8 weeks! On the first fine day we managed a Levada walk – not the one planned, as there had been a landslide there. It was quite damp underfoot from all the recent rain, and at one point we had to run through a waterfall pouring off the mountain, which was enormous fun. Got wet through, but it was warm enough so that my clothes dried out very quickly. After that, the weather improved day by day until it became the sunny Madeira we are used to. Balmy, blue skies, heavenly.
I’m back now in cold old England, ready to concentrate on all the research necessary for my new book, and looking forward to the publication in March of A SONG AT SUNSET.
When I’ve finished all the unpacking, washing, ironing – and wading through the piles of junk mail that came through the letterbox in my absence and the hundreds of e-mails on my computer.
That’s about it for now. Catch up with me again in two or three weeks, and I’ll let you know how the new book is progressing ….