So here I am, halfway through my month-long retreat in the company of another man. Did I ever tell you how I named my police constable? To begin with, when I first started writing “Fatal Forgery” (which itself started life as “A Fraudster and a Gentleman”), he was called George Rayner. I know: not good. But in the 1780s, when he was born, people chose their children’s names from quite a limited selection – none of your Duwaynes and Will.i.ams back then. And then one day I was reading through the records of the Old Bailey (utterly fascinating, and now all online – just a fabulous resource) when I came across a trial where one of the witnesses was a police constable called Sam Plank. “That’s him!” I cried – my husband remembers me doing it. And I just knew that Constable Samuel Plank was the man for me.
We’ve been through a lot together already, and now – hiding away together in Switzerland – we are getting to know each other even better. He’s told me about his childhood, and today he revealed to me what made him become a police officer in the first place. I won’t spoil the surprise for you, just in case you decide to read his next adventure, but it was very moving, and certainly explains a great deal about how he became the man he is. And just to confirm your no doubt nagging suspicions that I have gone completely batty stuck up here alone at the top of a mountain, I genuinely had no idea about this anecdote until I sat down and wrote it: I didn’t plan it, and it just appeared. He’s good company, Sam Plank.