I mentioned a while ago that I was taking part in an A-Z Blogging Challenge, co-ordinated by Helen Hollick (indie author, reviewer, champion and all-round good guy). Her inspired take on it was to interview not authors of, but characters from, historical novels, one for each letter of the alphabet, and Sam and I were lucky enough to be invited to represent the letter C – as in “The Man in the Canary Waistcoat”. (I feel a bit “Sesame Street” as I say that, but you know what I mean.) And we had a ball. First it was fun to respond to the interview questions – as you can imagine, Sam is more used to asking than answering – and then it was even more fun to read the interviews with characters from other books. I urge you to take a look: this links to Sam’s interview, but just below it you will see links to the twenty-five others – all fascinating, without exception.
And Helen was really on to something, because you can tell from reading the interviews that we authors are all the same: we consider our characters to be real people who are talking to us. Of course, some of the characters were real – there’s footballer Rabbi Howell, for instance, and famed lovers Tristan and Iseult. But most of them, although carefully researched and placed, are actually (whisper it) made up. Like Sam. But it sounds oddly disloyal of me to say that, because to me he is real. I talk to him all the time in my head, and I often wonder what he would think of something I’ve seen or heard. I look at Regency portraits in galleries and think, “Sam wouldn’t be caught dead in a coat like that”, and as I walk around London I see alleyways and taverns that he would have known. And that’s why it’s scary to think that I am now halfway through “Plank 4”, and therefore halfway through Sam’s series. I’ve always said seven books, and I’ve plotted seven books. But come October 2019, will I really be able to say farewell to such a dear friend?