Fatal Forgery, Gregory Hardiman, Heir Apparent, Martha Plank, Metropolitan Police, plotting, publication date, research, Samuel Plank, word count
I have some big news. I know that back in the day (August last year) I asked your opinion on which book I should write next: the final Sam Plank book or the first Gregory Hardiman book. Votes were fairly even, but in the end I decided to let Sam rest for a while and to embark on a new relationship with Gregory. Since then, I have tried – I really have. I have immersed myself in research into Cambridge and the University [everyone capitalised it in the 1820s] and the university constables. I have worked out who Gregory is and where he comes from and how he reaches Cambridge, and what happened to him in Spain [spoiler: it’s not pretty]. But I just cannot get going with the writing; even with twelve weeks (and counting…) of lock-down, I’ve managed only about 5,000 words. And after listening to one of Joanne Harris’s excellent Youtube tutorials, in which she talked about putting projects aside for when their time is right, I have come to a conclusion: I’m reversing my decision. In other words, I’m going to do “Sam 7” before “Gregory 1”. (Not instead of “Gregory 1”: I have done enough research to know that I really do want to do the Cambridge series, but just not right now.)
Before coming to this decision I had to make sure that I hadn’t hamstrung myself with “Fatal Forgery”. You may remember that I did not plan a Sam series: it happened because once I had finished “FF” – which was intended as a standalone book – I just couldn’t bear to say goodbye to Sam. But did I say anything in “FF” that would make it tricky to write the final Sam book, which sees the advent of the Metropolitan Police and a significant change in Sam’s working life? With trembling hands I opened my copy and found this: “I continued working as a constable for the magistrates in Great Marlborough Street, and when the policing of London was reorganised in the summer of 1829 I was one of the first to transfer to the new Metropolitan Police Force. I could have stayed with the magistrates, but I had a deal of respect for the two new Commissioners of Police, and London had grown so vast and so wild that I agreed with their view that the city was now sorely in need of an integrated police force. With my years of experience, I was quickly put to work training new recruits.” I then revisited “Heir Apparent” – the most recent Sam book – and at the end of that Wilson talks about joining the new force and encourages Sam to think about signing up to help train the new recruits. Who would have guessed it!
I am so excited at the thought of being able to wade once more into the history of policing – Gregory is a university constable, which is not the same. As for an actual plot, I’m quite taken with counterfeiting, coining (that’s the counterfeiting of money) and gambling. I’m thinking of publication in October 2021. And before you can ask, yes, there will be MORE MARTHA!
Graham Thomas said:
Wow, that is a big decision and thank you for sharing it with us. No doubt this has been on your mind for a while and, as you say, having tried everything to change tack and get into “Gregory” mode, sometimes it’s just best to accept that the time isn’t right.
It’s great to hear that a possible outlne plot is taking shape already and even better to hear that there will be more Martha.
It’s hard to explain: I just couldn’t get involved with Gregory the way I had with Sam – and I know that it’s just a matter of time. But then I scared myself: what if I become so involved with Gregory that I forget how to access Sam’s world? And I looked back over some plot notes I had made for “Plank 7” and it sounded so exciting and, well, here we are! I’ve booked the cover designers for September 2021, so it’s a date!
Best wishes from Susan
Pingback: Learning from the best | Susan Grossey
Roy McCarthy said:
In the past I’ve sometimes had a couple of projects running simultaneously. It can work well if you’re struggling a bit on one front to free your mind by jumping into the other manuscript.
It’s an excellent suggestion, Roy – I’ve always hoped that having a day job and the writing as my sideline would do the same, but I’ve been struggling now that work is quieter than usual. Perhaps it’s time for another piggy…