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I know I’ve been silent recently.  Nothing sinister: just a holiday.  I didn’t take my writing with me, as it was a cycling tour of the Netherlands and I had enough trouble negotiating space for two pairs of shoes in the panniers, let alone trying to fit in my laptop and a file of notes about “Plank 3”.  But Sam did come with us, in that my husband used some of our longer stretches of pedalling to quiz me about my characters.  He didn’t ask about the plot of “Plank 3” – he always prefers to go to his first reading with no expectations – but rather concentrated on background questions, like “How did Sam and Martha meet?” and “Do you think Wilson will make a good career police officer?”.  And I found myself discussing as though they were real people.

In fact, Sam and Martha have already entered our everyday world.  Quite often we will see someone doing something, and one of us will comment, “Martha would have had plenty to say about that”.  Or when we hear another report of fluffy anti-crime rhetoric, where the speaker is trying to make a point without upsetting anyone, we’ll roll our eyes and say, “Sam would have known what to do – and wouldn’t have been afraid to do it”.

So today I am back with Sam and Martha on the page, picking up “Plank 3” and starting to tie together the various plot lines – I had a good idea for one link somewhere between Delft and the Hook of Holland.  As ever, I did consider whether I could use my travels more directly, perhaps by taking Sam to the Netherlands – which also contained Belgium in his day – but not for “Plank 3”.  I was sorely tempted to visit the police museum we spotted in Zaandam, but decided not to “contaminate” my picture of Sam and his Great Marlborough Street fellow officers with images of their “politie” cousins.  Maybe “Plank 4″…