I had a bright idea: that I would be finished with book 3 at the end of January. Good idea but a bit unrealistic because I forgot how many things I had to do in January. I went down to Winchester to talk to some students on creative writing courses, and some other writers, and had a fantastic time. Looking over the seated people (a fellow student from my year in the front seat) it was lovely to be telling my story and encouraging fellow writers to push on, finish that book, get on with the next one. It's not a pipe dream, it's still very hard to get published, of course, but those writers who have stories they just have to write down would probably find readers just as enthralled by their characters. I followed that by a talk to creative writing students at Brockenhurst college. If my personal philosophy wasn't 'give back, give forward' I still would have got loads from addressing these different groups. Questions make you look at what you do and why. Sometimes it is the younger students at the beginning of their writing journey who make the biggest challenges, and gave me a chance to reflect on aspects of writing I hadn't considered consciously before. So, thank you for making me welcome and thank you for making me look at my writing practice and understand the process better.
Anyway, back to work. Book 3 is in its last stages of development then I can put it aside for a couple of months to work on book 2. Book 1 is in its paperback incarnation (which will, hopefully, sell well) and looking rather eye-catching, I think. It's embossed like the hardback, very glossy white writing, very smart.
Meanwhile, cancer-cat seems unbothered by her probable fate, despite being a bit lumpy around the neck. It has made me wonder what it would be like to be animal and child free at some point. Free to travel, maybe. I can't imagine writing without her, though. She sleeps in the study when I'm working, curled up on a blanket on a sling on the radiator, occasionally sitting on my lap and the keyboard for attention.
I am wrestling with the vagaries of sixteenth-century travel. Countries that we think of as Greek were under Venetian control but they must have had their own ideas about their identity. Venice wasn't part of 'Italy', which wouldn't exist for centuries. My characters are aliens, lost in a conflicted world of the Ottoman empire.