Susan Grossey

The puzzle of Plank

Today is a good day.  Not just because the Cheeto in Chief has finally left the White House (may he rot in Florida), but because for the first time in months – literally, months – I have felt properly “in the zone” while writing.

What I haven’t confessed to you is that last week I had a major wobble and considered reversing my decision to write “Plank 7” before embarking on my Cambridge series.  I re-read what I had written for “Gregory 1” and it’s not bad at all.  Perhaps, I reasoned, I needed a break from Sam and Martha.  Perhaps I was blocked because subconsciously I didn’t want to finish their series and say goodbye to them (although my husband has pointed out that I can always do “Young Sam and Martha” – if it’s good enough for Morse and Montalbano, it’s surely good enough for Plank).  Perhaps I needed a change of scenery, and relocating my writerly self from London to Cambridge might do the trick.  (Actually, as I’m under lockdown in Cambridge and it’s the only place I’ve seen for months, it’s rather more exciting to think about London.)  But it turns out that I was just being a bit feeble – as ever (and I can’t remember who said it) the key to writing is nothing more mysterious than applying the bottom to the chair and the hands to the keyboard/pen.

So, I am thrilled to report that Sam, Martha and I are back on track.  And this final instalment is even more of a mental workout than usual.  Not only do I have to figure out the plot (which, in true Sam style, is revealing and changing itself as we go along), but I also have to ensure that anything I write dovetails neatly with Sam’s adventures at the end of “Fatal Forgery”.  Although the majority of that book was set in 1824, you may remember that the final chapters jump ahead to September 1830 – and “Plank 7” is set in the autumn of 1829.  I didn’t know Sam very well when I was writing “Fatal Forgery”, and I am just hoping that I haven’t hamstrung him with any odd views or actions that I will now have to accommodate.  Still, it keeps the mental cogs whirring nicely.

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