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Well, it just goes to show what a day of rest, recuperation, retail therapy (OK, so it was bin liners and orange juice, but it’s still retail) and – let’s be honest – whinging can do.  After that low point, yesterday my keyboard was on fire – just shy of 4,000 words and a real push towards the end of the first draft.  (Roy, I trust you’re on standby: I’m hoping to get that draft to you by 19 August.  Roy is my amazing beta reader, everyone – there’s not a plot inconsistency or a character contradiction he can’t spot, and he has an elephantine memory for what Sam did and said in earlier novels.)

Talking of which, as readers of earlier Sam Plank novels will know, I do like to include a little twist towards the end – not a twist in the tail/tale exactly, but just something unexpected.  And I did have one in mind for “Plank 4”, but on my regular post-lunch constitutional yesterday, sitting on a bench with this amazing view, I thought of a new one:


Would it work, I wondered – would that fit with my characters, and with the subject I now wished to introduce?  So I stopped off at the wifi point and did a little research, and, do you know, it fitted perfectly – it couldn’t have worked more neatly with what I have already written and how my characters have developed if I had plotted it from the very beginning.  This feeling will be best recognised by other writers of historical fiction: you modern types can write what you want, you lucky things, but those of us with historical settings have to be true to what actually happened.  It’s a question that is often put to writers in historical genres: how closely do you observe historical truth, and when can you depart from it?  I can’t speak for anyone else, but my rule of thumb is this: if it is known, then I must observe it, but if it is not known, then I can interpolate with what seems to fit.  While writing “Fatal Forgery”, for instance, I found out that Henry Fauntleroy had a son.  This was very annoying, as I didn’t really want him to have a family life interfering with my plot, but the son was real and had to be accommodated – I couldn’t ignore something so central.

Anyway, most fortuitously, this new plot angle I have conceived does fit with both historical fact and my characters, so I am feeling particularly splendid as I ready myself for work today.