A little bit of background: “Fatal Forgery” (the first Sam Plank novel) was based largely on the real case of a thieving banker. I fictionalised and embellished at will, but knowing the true facts gave me a structure and limits. When it came to “The Man in the Canary Waistcoat” (Plank 2), I decided to complicate things a bit and weave together four cases – this time basing them more loosely on real crimes, but not real people. At times during that process my mind went a bit wobbly, but Sam worked stoically on pulling it all together for me. So now my thoughts are turning to (well, let’s be honest, my thoughts are rarely far from) “Plank 3”.
I think it will be more like “Canary”, in that I’m envisaging several plot lines with a connection. At the moment I know the connection – which is the opposite to “Canary”, where the stories came first and I had to wait for the connection to become apparent (bit of a worry, that, when it took a while to show up). So I have the body of the spider, so to speak, and now need to run down each leg in turn to see where it leads. How many legs? Well, as I say, “Canary” had four (now we’re all confused: I’m beginning to regret the spider analogy, as they have eight legs, and of course canaries actually have two…), and I rather like that number. More might be difficult for the reader to follow, and fewer seems a bit lazy. And I’ve already settled on two “leg” stories. So I’m thinking of choosing two or three more, and then that’s the big decisions made. With such a terrific subject – Regency crime with a financial bent to it – my difficulty is not finding ideas, but whittling them down. Thank goodness I’ve already decided on that series of seven books – I can just save the others for later.