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Goodness, I had forgotten quite how slow it is writing the first book in a series.  To be fair, I didn’t realise at the time that “Fatal Forgery” was the first in that series – I thought it was a standalone book until Sam caught hold of me and wouldn’t let go – but I certainly noticed that I speeded up the writing through the series.  I thought maybe it was just me becoming a really good writer (hah!) but it turns out that the magic ingredient was familiarity: familiarity with my characters, and familiarity with the location.  And as I embark on “Gregory 1”, both of those are missing.

Yes, I have been canny enough to stick with a familiar timeframe: “Gregory 1” is set in 1825, which is the same year as for “The Man in the Canary Waistcoat”.  But I’m already finding that 1825 in modern, exciting, capital city London is not the same as 1825 in staid, academic, market town Cambridge.

And as for the other things that are slowing me down, it’s the usual stumbling blocks for the writer of historical fiction.  You start out with a simple sentence: He turned left into Sidney Street and headed for the market to buy fish for his meal.  Now, was it “Sidney Street”, or should I go with the nineteenth-century alternative of “Sidney-street”?  And I’m writing about a Tuesday – was the market in Cambridge on Tuesdays?  And were the fish sellers there every market day?  And were they actually in the main market, or near the “beast market” around the corner?  Perhaps he can do without a meal today!  I’m not complaining – well, not much – but it’s been a bit of a shock to go from days when I could quite happily pour out two or three thousand words, to feeling exhausted after only five hundred.  But at least this time, as I know already that it’s a series, I can comfort myself that time spent now on learning the details will be a good investment for future books.  Now, back to that fish: will Gregory choose Colchester oysters, salmon or herrings? Or even a tasty eel…