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I know what you’re thinking: I’ve been idling away my time in the sun and not getting on with “Plank 5”.  Well, it’s not true: Sam, Martha, Wilson and I have had a lovely few days together while my husband has been away, and I can report that I have now written a quarter of “Plank 5”.  I know that sounds like slow progress, but with a publication date of March 2018, I’m happy with it.

As tends to happen with my writing style, the plot is developing in unforeseen ways.  I have just killed off someone – no-one central, so no need to worry – and had to do quite a bit of research around that.  I was about to dump the body in Carnaby Market (a fruit and veg market alongside the now-famous fashion street) until I consulted the marvellous British History Online Survey of London (a terrific resource, which describes each individual street and its history) and discovered that the market had closed in 1820 and been replaced by new homes – plus ça change and all that.  So the poor fellow is instead in an alleyway between two new buildings.

I have also spent some time making sure that my character records are complete.  For each recurring character I keep a record of anything significant that I have said about them in any of the books – appearance, family history, marital status, food preferences, odd habits, etc. – so that I can be consistent.  After all, there must be at least a dozen of you out there who have read all the Plank books, and you would notice if someone tall and dark suddenly shrank and went blonde.  My latest challenge has been the Atkins family tree.  George and Louisa Atkins run the Blue Boar coaching inn in Holborn, now home to Alice Godfrey and little Martha, and in “Worm in the Blossom” I casually mentioned in passing that they had six children.  Of course, I did not realise that I would like the Atkins family so much that I would keep hold of them for future books, and now I need to sort out their family tree.  If only I hadn’t made them so fertile…

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