Fasten your seat belts. I’m going to take you on a journey. And it’s one, until quite recently, I wasn’t expecting to take myself. Let me explain.
I wrote this book for another publishing house which went bust – or to use the jargon my then editor desperately urged on me ‘ceased trading’, just before my novel was due for publication. Thereby hangs another and uglier tale which I’m certainly not going to tell all over again here.
But lo and behold, my clever agent sold this unpublished story to a new and up and coming publisher called, splendidly appropriately, ‘Endeavour’. And now it is going to be published on September the 1st and this is the cover. I think I can allow myself one, small cheer!
So what sort of book is this poor creature that nearly died the death? Well, as always, when I write a long, family saga, it’s a Christmas pudding and the ingredients are many, varied and sometimes peculiar.
For a start, it had to begin in the Sussex countryside. My amanuensis and I chose a very pretty place called Binderton, which is north of Chichester and is so small that most people haven’t heard of it. In fact we drove straight through it before we’d realised we’d arrived.
And then one of the other settings had to be the Borough Market because I liked it so much, having visited it the first time when I was seventeen. It’s very up market now but the sights, sounds and spirit of the place are still comfortably the same, even, as we’ve recently discovered, when they’re under attack. Respec’!
The third setting was in the miasmic trenches of the First World War. I heard a lot of fascinating things about that fearsome place when I was knee high to a grasshopper and sitting at the feet of a distant relation who had served four years there.
Relations are wonderfully useful. I had another one who had been a suffragette and told me all manner of things about that. So that’s another ingredient I had to include in my Christmas pudding.
And I certainly couldn’t leave out the terrifying, fascist rallies that were held in London and Worthing and elsewhere, by Mr Oswald Moseley despite furious opposition.
So are there any sweeties in my Christmas pudding? Well there’s an artist who employs my heroine as a model and Elstree Film Studios where she is employed as a bit-part player in the early films. Writing that was fun.
And now here she is, up on the cover and ready to meet you. I hope you will like and enjoy her, as much as I did while I was writing her.
My new publisher will tell you even more: