About a month ago, a retired high school teacher from America contacted me by email, saying that she teaches four groups a course called “History Through Mystery” [how much do you want to go on that course – me too] through an organisation called the Osher Lifelong Learning Institutes. OLLIs offer courses and activities for older people through US universities – it sounds a bit like the UK’s University of the Third Age. Anyway, this lady said that in June her four groups would be discussing “Fatal Forgery” because it “definitely evokes the feeling of the time without being tedious”. I was thrilled to hear this, as you can imagine, and gladly supplied some background information, as the novel has no author notes, which reading groups like these days. And then I waited nervously – it’s quite something to know that lots of well-informed, well-read people are discussing your novel.
And true to her word, this lovely lady emailed me again a couple of days ago, to say that the last of the four groups had just finished with Sam. And their verdict? “In every group, it has been one of the most favorite books. Everyone loved your writing style and found that it was not only easy to read, but it draws the reader into the time period. Yes, we all wanted more Martha, and a number of members have already read the next two Plank books (as have I) in which there is more Martha. What a wonderful character. She is such a great complement to Sam, and he is able to bounce ideas off her and get some very intelligent response. The other thing which was appreciated is how you triangulated the narrator (Plank, Wilson and Martha) in order to give us a very complete picture of what was going on.”
As you can imagine, Sam and I – and especially Martha – are beaming. He even says that he might be willing to overlook that little dust-up we all had in the 1770s, given the civilised nature of the resulting population.