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Well, selling a house and then moving 250 miles certainly distracts one from the day job!  Probably a good thing every 20 or 30 years or so. One is suddenly being very physical and getting remarkably fit (apart from the nervous breakdown, blood pressure and general panic attacks) after all those months each year sitting at the computer! And what a chance to sort out and consolidate.
 But now it is back to the real world.  We are settling in and in this lovely spring weather at last getting a chance to admire our new garden. The new fitted bookshelves are in place at last, so I can start to unpack the majority of the book boxes. The work-in-progress books and the about-to-be-work-in-progress books were stashed in the boot of my car from the first moment they were liable to get lost, and are all already ensconced rather smugly in my new study on the old wobbly but serviceable bookcases, which are ready-at-a-moment’s notice bookcases. Not even flat packed anymore after my efforts at assembly which used to involve the last resort of hammer and nails when the going got rough!
After taking a couple of months off writing to accomplish all of the above I am now suddenly catapulted back into what used to be my way of life. Editing, checking, double checking the current story, The Darkest Hour, which will appear in book proof any day now, and making notes for the new book which is hovering in the background (inevitably waking me at 4 a.m. with the knowledge that however tired my eyes are I have to force them open, grope for my notebook and write the latest inspiration down before it disappears into the dream world which is still hovering over my head). I have been trying very hard not to give the new characters names yet as that will establish them as real and they will take it as a sign that the starting flag has been raised. They are already jumping up and down trying to get their story started and I am already collecting a new shelf of history books – I love that bit, the excuse to buy books, some new some old, which are going to be worked to within an inch of their lives. Kindles are no use at all for research, in my experience, too unwieldy for flicking back and forth, for checking indexes, too completely unsuitable for stuffing full of book marks and coloured arrows.  And oh joy I am going back to a medieval period. Much as I have enjoyed all the other excursions into the past over the years I was unprepared for the sudden rush of nostalgia when I turned back to my medieval library.
Having said that, I was amazed at how much I have enjoyed writing The Darkest Hour which is set (or half of it is) during the Battle of Britain. Such a change from what I think of as proper history (i.e. before the invention of the combustion engine) and with my own dad as the chief source of much of the history. And, let’s face it, I can remember, not the war, but hearing so much about it first hand from my father’s generation as I grew up. He flew a Spitfire then, and on his 90th birthday he flew one again and we all watched his flight and even better the size of his grin when he landed.
I am so looking forward to publication day, on July 3rd – and so is he. By then he will be 96 .


So, back to unpacking, and at last, cautiously to the naming of characters.  Once I used a baby naming book. Now of course there is the internet and date-appropriate names.  I will concede that is one piece of online research which is darned useful!



Normandie on 10/06/14

Hello -
Hope you don't mind me asking: are you the Barbara Erskine who wrote an article for The Field's Christmas edition in 1989 entitled "A salute to the cats of a lifetime". If so, is that article available online anywhere? I have several cat people with whom I'd love to share it. I read it at the time and it has stuck with me over the past 25 years - particularly the passage about Rameses' unfortunate demise and Ptolemy's grief - but also Rameses' very comforting reappearances at the fireside.

If you're not that Barbara Erskine, many apologies!

With best wishes, Normandie

Yes, that was me. Many many cats further down the line we now have but one - a lovely black cat called Gabrielle. Sadly I don't have any copies of that article - it was probably written on a typewriter! Sorry

Claire on 29/05/14

Hello, I can't wait for your new book.
Can you please advise where I get buy a signed copy?
I have enquired with the bookshop I normally buy your books from, and they don't believe they will have any signed copies. Heres hoping....

Hi Claire, it is not actually published until July 3. I am going to be signing books in London and Wales, Suffolk and Sussex at some point. Hope you can get to one of them

Donna on 16/05/14

So excited to know another book is on its way. The release date of Darkest Hour is perfect for me. I finish a very time consuming Diploma at the end of June and the first thing on my to do list was to get lost in a book (have been reading 'fluff' just for quick time outs) and now I am soooooo excited to know it will be one of yours. Thank you for your books, they are extremely enjoyable.

Joy on 27/04/14

Can't wait for your new book to be available to buy and read. Thank you, thank you for the many enjoyable hours of reading that you have given me. Enjoy your new home and good luck unpacking! Been through that too many times.
Best wishes to your dad on his upcoming birthday.
Take care!

Maggie on 19/03/14

Wishing you luck in your new home. Looking forward to reading The Darkest Hour. Happy birthday to your dad on his 96th. Such a great age and what a time to live through and stories to tell.
My mum also went through the war in the ATS and along with her cousin and dearest friend had such memories to impart. She passed away 18 months ago at the great age of 100.

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