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Wasn’t that a terrific bank holiday weekend?  In fact, it was so hot here in Cambridge that I had the perfect excuse to stop tidying the garden and head indoors to spend time with Sam and Martha.  As regular readers will know, I have now plunged back into research and preparation as I turn my mind to the writing of “Plank 6”.  To encourage without scaring myself witless, I have even settled on a publication date and have reset the countdown clock on the left.  Taa-dah!

As I may have confessed some time ago, “Plank 6” is actually a little more advanced than usual.  When I first decided to write a series of seven Sam books, I plotted them all in general terms – which crime would happen in which year, and which significant character milestones would occur in which book.  But when it came to “Plank 5” – now published as “Faith, Hope and Trickery” – I just wasn’t feeling it.  I tried: I did lots of research, and I even wrote the first chapter – but in the end I had to admit defeat and swap it with the plot for “Plank 6”.  And so now I find that a fair amount of preparatory work has been done, and you’ll be glad to hear that the time has indeed come for this particular plot – now I’m really feeling it!

One of the key plot points I need to clarify concerns intestacy – what happens to your assets if you die without a will.  (Not really a concern for me, as I plan to spend it all before I go, on shoes, chocolate and books, but for rich folk it’s quite an issue.)  And, as you can imagine, it’s something of a legal minefield – particularly when it comes to researching historical legislation.  I did some reading around the subject, tying myself in knots with new vocabulary like “cousin-german” and the crucial difference between heirs and next-of-kin.  But in the end I decided – for the first time – to take advantage of the huge amount of knowledge out there in the historical writing community.  For quite a while I have been a follower of a Facebook group called English Historical Fiction Authors, and have enjoyed reading all the posts they feature.  But yesterday I put up a question about my particular intestacy issue and wham! within about an hour I had four very learned and helpful explanations.  How very generous people are with their time and expertise.  I have previously answered a query myself – about Georgian insults, if I remember – but will make sure to contribute more when I can, to repay my debt.