It’s January 2022, and it’s been a long time since I posted on my own website. I’ve actually been posting like mad, but elsewhere, on other websites and Facebook pages that I seem to have been dragged into over the past year or so. Time to make amends, and for some reflection on my writing.
The new book ‘Collateral Damage’ is on the website, thanks to Russell who manages that side of things for me, but anyone curious about what I’ve been up to – apart from getting the new book out – would look in vain. My only excuse is that it’s been a very strange time for all of us. Priorities have been challenged and new perspectives emerging that seem to have taken me in different directions. Old routines were dismantled and replaced with new ones.
Even before the world changed and lockdown followed lockdown, I was beginning to ask myself about how many more novels I had in me. The last two, ‘Corruption’ in 2020 and then ‘Collateral Damage’ in 2021, were lockdown projects, ideal to fill the time released by the suspension of other activities. They were both crime novels using the same characters and West Cumbrian settings that I’d used before, which was useful as it reduced the amount of research necessary when some of my usual sources were unavailable. Local History archives were closed and it was less easy to find and talk to people in the pursuit of authenticity. These two books were still written with care, and I’m pleased with them both, but I felt less investment in them, especially compared to the earlier novels. They were designed to fill the gap left in the crime series that began with ‘Cruel Tide’, set in 1969, and ended with ‘Out of the Deep’, set in the autumn of 2001. Between ‘Fatal Reckoning’ (set 1971) and ‘Burning Secrets’ (set 2001), there was a thirty year gap, which needed filling in. Now that’s done, so what next?
The current project is not another novel, but a stage play, about the closure of the Millom Iron Works in 1968. It was prompted by my involvement with a big ‘arts project’ called ‘Deep Time’, which focusses on the industrial history of the West Cumbrian coast. Limitations of time put another novel out of reach, and I decided to go for a play instead. It was time I did some more learning, too – too easy to repeat the same skills for the tenth time. So a play it is. Working title ‘The Day the Iron Works Closed’. World premiere? Millom, September 2022. Watch this space!