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Sam Plank was not meant to live as long as he has done.  When I first wrote “Fatal Forgery” he was only a bit player, but I liked him so much that I rewrote the whole thing from his point of view.  And then I loved him so much that I turned it into a series.  So the Sam in “FF” was a bit accidental: whatever characteristics I gave him there, almost unthinkingly, I then had to carry on into subsequent books.

But Gregory is different.  He already knows that he’s going to have five stories, so he’s in it for the long haul – and so the choices I make now carry much more weight.  I already know quite a bit about his background – his age, where he’s from, what he did before coming to Cambridge – as these were part of my initial research into whether writing about a university constable was even practical.  But as for his life in Cambridge, it’s still all to play for.

Where did he work?  Now, I know what you’re going to say: he worked at the university as a constable.  But that was only a part-time job: constables did most of their work in the evenings, making sure that “junior members of the university” (undergraduates) were safely tucked up in their colleges by 10 pm.  So what did he do with the rest of his time?  (Spoiler alert: I’m fairly sure he’s an ostler.)  And where did he live?  Whatever I decide now, he and I will have to put up with it for at least five books.  It’s nail-biting stuff.  But I think we’re there.  And one enormous, unforeseen benefit of working on Gregory rather than Sam is that – even in times of lock-down – I was able to go out on my bike yesterday and gaze at the house where he lived.

(My husband has just looked over my shoulder at my to do list: the last entry reads “Decide where to find the body”.  That will teach him to be nosy.)