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I’ve just had a five-day break in Norfolk.  For those of you not from the UK, Norfolk is one of our more traditional counties, for which we love it – you can visit seaside towns that seem much as they must have done in the 1950s, and the simple pleasures of bird-spotting, cake-eating and countryside-walking are Norfolk’s selling points.  And what inevitably happens on a Norfolk break is that you slow down and take stock – you step back from daily routines and pressures and wonder why life can’t always be this relaxing.

As some of you will know, I am retiring from my full-time paid work at the end of this year – for many and complicated reasons, but it’s the right decision at the right time and I am looking forward to spending much more time on writing and book marketing.  However, when I announced my plans to my clients, I was (very flatteringly) inundated with requests for “just one more training session before you go”, and my diary for the last three months of the year is now jam-packed with bookings.  The net result is that I am further behind with “Plank 7” than I would wish – and I was getting panicky about meeting my own deadline (mildly important) and also finding the actual writing a chore rather than a pleasure (hugely important).  And after looking at it from the distance of Norfolk, I have decided to postpone my publication date until 25 February 2022.  (My late father’s birthday, so always a significant date for me.)

I am aware that we are in the middle of our title poll – many thanks to those who have already voted.  I can’t see me changing the plot elements significantly or changing my short-list of titles, so the decision of that poll will simply carry forward – and it will be lovely to stop calling the poor thing “Plank 7” and give it a proper name instead.

And to those of you who suspect that this is all simply a ruse to spend a couple more months with Sam and Martha, well, I couldn’t possibly comment…