Blog Writing Craft

Historical Fiction 10 Editing Tips: No 10 Feigning Accuracy

I’ve had a reader take me to task – rightly – over an incorrect detail of clothing worn by the hero of my books, the 16th-century Italian philosopher Giordano Bruno, even while they seemed quite happy to accept the much more flagrant invention of turning him into a spy who solves murders.

Stephanie Merritt (SJ Parris)

Feigning Accuracy

Feigning accuracy? Surely she means being totally accurate with the historical facts?

Well, I left this post until last because historical accuracy is a lot more complicated than it might seem, and the focus of a never-ending conversational loop for historical novelists. Recently, I was pulled up for inaccuracy by a reader. She had looked up one of my characters – called Koniev – probably on wikipedia, and said I’d spelt it wrong. It should be ‘Konev’.  Yet here is a photo of some of the real newspapers of the period that I used for my research into this character.

1945 research for Past Encounters

So who is right? The answer is neither of us. Or both. But the problem is, my sources are different from my readers. You will always be accused of inaccuracy by someone, not because you haven’t done your research, but often because your research sources may be different from the reader’s.

If you write a unique view of a character, one that a reader knows and loves, if it doesn’t agree with their previous reading on the subject, it might be deemed inaccurate — even though your new interpretation is well-supported by primary historical sources. When editing, it is good to take account of the probable sources of your readers.

I write a lot in the 17th Century. A popular book right now on the period is a very good book called ‘The Time-Traveller’s Guide to Restoration Britain.’ Now I would be foolish to insert facts into my novel that disagreed with this perceived authority, because I would probably then have trouble convincing the reader that my facts were the correct ones. The cost of things for example, is widely contradicted in different books on the Restoration period, because of the fluctuation of currency in the period. But I am aware that the Time Traveller’s Guide will probably be one of my readers’ sources, so that is the secondary source I might choose to use. We are not historians, and yet the ‘man on the street’ presumes we are, and judges us by the ‘facts’ of today’s published historians.

But our job as a writer is to produce truth rather than accuracy. Accurate things may not ring true – inaccurate things might ring truer.

For example: As Sol Stein says about his play Napoleon, in which Talleyrand confronts Napoleon:

‘Talleyrand provokes the younger man (Napoleon) into a flash of anger. Talleyrand couldn’t say, “Don’t get so hot under the collar” or “Cool it” in the argot of today. He says “Save your blood the journey to your face, I meant no harm’. You won’t find anything like that in the recorded conversations of the time. It is dialogue invented to suit a period, as John Fowles said, a form of “cheating” in which writers use a newly-minted language to simulate an old.’

In the past I have used inaccurate dialect for a Northern girl from 17th century Cumbria. She tells her sister not to ‘get into a fratch’. Fratch is 18th century dialogue and therefore not accurate. But it conveyed the spirit of what I wanted more closely than anything else, so I used it. In a historical novel, invented dialogue goes on all the time, with the writer striving to make the characters live and breathe, preferably without sounding like they have come from a pastiche of Victorian literature.

William Powell Frith
Victorian accuracy – King Henry & Anne Boleyn, Deer Shooting in Windsor Forest by William Powell Frith

Accuracy about the internal lives of historical personages is difficult to achieve. Often the novelist is writing about a woman who played an extraordinary role in history. Or a great man – A king, for example. Let’s take Henry VIII. Say I am tempted to put his thoughts on paper. I might use the most obvious; ‘How can I divorce Anne Boleyn?’ But the reality is much bigger than that, and the question much more complex. This is a man who has been enormously well-educated, who has talked with the foreign leaders of the day, who has multiple concerns about the religion and politics of the time, plus a keen sensibility for music and architectural beauty. Your job is to convey the scope of this man within the meagre pages of your book. It is a bold and presumptuous undertaking. A novelist must insert as much subtext as possible to round out the character, and genuinely try to understand the man. Otherwise the character will be a cardboard cipher.

There is nothing more off-putting than realising you have given King Henry VIII the ‘voice of a middle-aged hairdresser from Morecambe’.

To be accurate you must be able to enter the head of your character at that time, but to make him live you must be able to subtly parallel his attitudes with something of today. The Victorian emphasis on Henry VIII might be quite different from our 21st century one.

If you’re not an intellectual, don’t write about a historical genius and expect him to somehow come over as more intelligent than yourself. To do so would need a dash of divine inspiration – to write out of your own socks, so to speak, and it rarely succeeds. I recently read a novel in which one of the main characters was a ground-breaking scientist, and yet his dialogue showing his passion for his work was filled with bland generalities. It just didn’t ring true.  Most writers humbly and sensibly choose to write history from the point of view of an ordinary or minor character within the milieu of the ‘marquee name’ of history.

If you choose a big name like Henry VIII, can you tweak a scene to make it more true?  Can you give the witnesses an agenda which will give it extra emotional impact? The bare facts in the annals of history can be enhanced. Does your scene show the full vigour of the man? Is it truer than the bare facts of history?

You can feign accuracy by adding detail to the facts, as long as the detail is correct – the rough texture of the blindfold worn at the execution will stick in your reader’s mind although that ‘fact’ was never in any historical record. So when editing check that you have complete clarity about what your character is doing and saying, where they are, what they can see, feel, taste, touch. Clarity is what gives the novel truth and therefore the semblance of accuracy.

And actually, what the reader often wants, as well as a sense of history, is emotional accuracy. They want to feel what is was like to live through that particular time; not what it looked like from the outside, but what it felt like to be in someone else’s skin, and to be able to re-live it now. And you can only do that by engaging the heart of the reader.

There are many discussions about accuracy on Goodreads, or anywhere where writers of historical fiction gather. Each of us historical novelists has our own ‘accuracy barometer’, which is set to warn us of fair sailing or stormy weather ahead.

Find my other editing posts on these links:

No 1 Light  No 2 Truth  No 3 Sound  No 4 Threads No 5 Foreshadowing No 6 Status No 7 Detail No 8 Suddenly No 9 Change

Susanna Calkins tackles this for Writer’s Digest.

Blog Writing Craft

Historical Fiction – deadly sin no 7 – mistaking it for a genre

The gothic splendour of Kenilworth Castle

Like most readers of historical fiction, I have my favourite eras. I love the seventeenth century, the Tudors and the medieval period, with the occasional foray into Victoriana, WWII and Greek myth. So I am unlikely to purchase anything set in the Napoleonic era,  Roman times, or the Dark Ages – that is, unless you work extra-hard to persuade me!

Also, I have a penchant for dark gothic stories set in castles or old houses (you can blame an early passion for ‘Jane Eyre’ and ‘Rebecca’ for that!) so a historical romance would have to be quite gritty for me to want to read it.

So – I’m a fussy reader – like nearly everyone else. This is a problem for historical fiction writers who want readers to find their books. We have to not only find those readers interested in history, but also those limited few with an enthusiasm for our particular era and tastes.

But more importantly than this, there are different types of stories even within this narrow readership. Some readers are looking for concept-driven stories – books for the book club market often naturally fall into this category. Some literary historical novels are driven by the psychology of the characters, and some, such as historical mysteries are all about the intricacies of the plot. Some readers enjoy epic novels with a wide sweep, some enjoy books focused on one historical personage, such as Anne Boleyn. ‘Wolf Hall’ is not the same as ‘The Other Boleyn Girl’, is not the same as Sansom’s ‘Dissolution’.

So, deadly sin no 7 is thinking that all readers of historical fiction are the same. They are not, and paying attention to what the reader expects is courteous. It is a question of tone, and working out where your novel falls on the spectrum. A historical thriller might contain explicit sex and gore which would be inappropriate for a novel of manners set in the time of Jane Austen. Your novel may be concept-driven, plot-driven or character-driven, in differing combinations. Each historical novel is individual, and creates its own atmosphere and reality.

Picture from Gina’s Library – click to check out her blog which features historical fiction

The thing that all historical fiction readers require though is genuine immersion in the past, and a momentum that will carry them through the story. So the key to understanding your reader and your tone is to look at other popular writers who have written the kind of book you are writing. Analyse the other author’s successful book in detail. What creates the tension and momentum? How much description? How much inner dialogue? How fast does the book move?

Check out another author’s amazon reviews for what makes that book a success. Here’s an example of an ordinary reader’s amazon review from Tracy Chevalier’s Girl with A Pearl Earring:

Girl with a Pearl Earring‘This book appears so simple on the outside, it’s only after you finish it that you realise how complex and rewarding it is. On reflection, a plot that centres around the creation of one painting could easily be very weak, but told through the eyes of a 16 year old maid – wise beyond her years as it turns out – it’s a charming slice of 17th century life in Holland. It plods along a bit in the middle and loses its grip on the reader somewhat, and don’t expect fireworks, shocks, plot twists, etc because there are none; just a slow, tantalising build up of sexual tension between the artist and his subject, and nervous tension between every other member of the household – servants and masters alike. All I want to do now is see the painting for real so that I can look into the girl’s eyes …’

This tells you a lot about the appeal of this particular book – complexity of the relationships, the tension between the characters. No fireworks.  If you were writing literary historical fiction, this gives you a fair idea of your reader and what they might enjoy. The key to reader satisfaction is to both think of your book as unique, and yet also to be scrupulous in assessing how your novel fits in its tiny niche within the broad scope of historical fiction.

You might also like:

Deadly Sin 1 – Melodrama

Deadly Sin 2  – Purple Prose

Deadly Sin 3 – Stuck in the Past

Deadly Sin 4 – Lost or Glossary?

Deadly Sin 5 – The Length of Time

Deadly Sin 6 – The Aura of an Era

Blog Writing Craft

Historical Fiction – deadly sin no 5 – The Length of Time

Alfred Von Wierusz-Kowalski Giddy Up
Alfred Von Wierusz-Kowalski (1848 – 1915) ‘Giddy Up’

In the past, travelling took much longer. Because journeys took longer, messages took weeks to arrive, and news was days old by the time it reached you. Talking to historical fiction writers who are starting out, I often find that one of the first things they have had to google, is how long it takes to ride from A to B by horse. Many arguments and opinions exist about this data, see the discussion here for an example. Time and distance affect the plotting, as when someone says they will go from London to York ‘immediately’ – the ‘immediately’ can be several days of waiting, and thus the immediacy – and therefore the plot tension – soon dissipates.

Dick Turpin’s famous ride on Black Bess supposedly took him from London to York in less than 15 hours, and is the most famous legend of the Great North Road. (Historians of course claim that the ride wasn’t by Turpin at all, but by “Swift Nick”, a.k.a John Nevison, a highwayman in the time of Charles II – see more on him, here.) But this seems a little ambitious to me, not to mention hard on Black Bess.

Which brings me to deadly sin no 5; spending too much time in transition.

Dick Turpin apart, on such long journeys by horse, it is tempting to describe the terrain, to note all the villages that pass, or have the characters engage in conversation to pass this necessary time. With a long journey, this soon becomes tedious unless scenes on the journey are vital for character, or integral to the plot. Aware of this, many writers try to insert a few plot events, but often this doesn’t work, because the reader knows this is just a journey, and  suspects (rightly) that the author is struggling to fill the necessary time with interest. The answer is usually brevity. Something like this –

‘Highgate and Hatfield, Baldock and Biggleswade; he was so lost in thought, he barely noticed them.’

As a historical novelist – this ‘clock time’ is actually the least of our problems. Sometimes a novel needs to unfold in a different way, i.e. not in real time. We might need to jump back in time, or shoot forward. Often we might want to cover months or years between relevant events. Smooth transitions are essential. One of the best ways I have found to bridge these enormous gaps is to use emotional tone to make the bridge. The reader is in one emotional state at the end of a chapter, and even if the next chapter is fifteen years further into the future, or ten years in the past, if the same emotional state persists for the reader, it smooths the way, and feels like an easy transition.

At the same time, it is not necessary to join all the dots. Readers are used to ‘scene cuts’ where we flash from one scene to the next, particularly when building pace. However, to avoid disorientating the reader, all time must be accounted for in some way, particularly if the time shift is big, or out of sequence with the ‘real time’ of the novel.

A quick indication is all that is needed, for example, ‘Years passed, and the once-new paint on the front door had begun to crack and peel.’ A specific detail which bridges one time period to the next (as in the door) is a good way to do this.

Still worrying about horses and carriages and distances? For the real low-down on horse-drawn travel in days gone by, read Sue Millard’s excellent post on horses and carriages here.

You might also like:

Deadly Sin 1 – Melodrama

Deadly Sin 2  – Purple Prose

Deadly Sin 3 – Stuck in the Past

Deadly Sin no 4 – Lost or Glossary?


The strengths of a first historical novel #histfic

Before I came to write my first historical novel, The Lady’s Slipper, most of my writing was contemporary. I read a lot of contemporary fiction as well as historical fiction. A few years ago I would have been surprised to find I had produced a historical novel. So why write one?

The answer is that it wasn’t a case of me deciding on a period and then setting the novel there, it was more that my characters demanded certain conditions to flourish and tell their story. I started with a character who wanted to paint an orchid – I had seen the rare lady’s-slipper orchid myself and wanted to write (initially) a poem about it. This desire was subverted into my character’s desire to capture it in paint. From then on the character grew and developed. I thought for the flower to have impact I needed a time when ideas about botany and images of flowers were new and fresh. Perhaps a time before mass printing, a time when herbs and flowers were used for healing. This led me to the 17th century when herbalists such as Nicolas Culpeper were just making their mark on history and the science of botany was in its infancy. My journey into the past had begun.

Research, and the idea of the medicinal use of the lady’s-slipper then sparked the character of Margaret the herbalist, whose views on “the web of the world” were a very different religion from the conformist view of the time. I am interested in the different ways that faiths have shaped the world and this tied in nicely with the burgeoning Quaker movement, viewed in the 17th century as radical and dangerous. I couldn’t resist having a Quaker character, so Richard Wheeler was born. In addition, the Quaker movement started close to my home in Westmorland, and visits to the still surviving historical sites fascinated me. Left – Townend, a yeoman’s 17th century house close to my home.

I was also keen to exploit the enmity between two men, and needed an atmosphere of unease where people felt unsafe so that the developing plot would be credible. The English Civil War where the King had been beheaded by his own people supplied the background disturbance I needed.

So the idea of a historical setting grew organically from the characters, and their needs, and not from some idea I had about being a ‘historical novelist, ‘ or even about who my readers would be. It had nothing to do with sales, or markets, or social media. A first novel is often like that – it has a sort of innocence, despite its journey through agents, editors, re-writes and the breathless moment of its first appearance on a shelf.

A few years down the line, and I find to my surprise that I have stuck with the genre, and written five adult novels and three teen novels, all historical. I found that I love to discover new things about the past, and that forging into the research for a historical novel is an adventure all of its own. The objects and documents of the past are still available to us in galleries and museums, and the novelist’s job is to supply just enough detail in the setting, so that the reader will transform these into real environments. It is subtle, this balance – too much and the reader’s senses are overwhelmed. Too little, and the reader will not have enough fuel to imagine the scene. The more work the reader does – the more the novel is his own construct – the deeper will be the immersive experience.

Recently I have heard that the rights for my first novel, The Lady’s Slipper, will be returning to me. Mindful of some of the reader reviews, I looked over the novel to see if I wanted to change it. I was surprised to find I didn’t. Yes, it has flaws, like all creative works, but reading it took me back to my sheer delight at being able to convey the world of the past through words. This enthusiasm seems to shine through behind the text. And, if I change it, it will no longer be a marker for me – a visible sign that my writing has matured. I know more now; about language and plot, and how to structure a book. Since producing it, I have read books on writing, blogs on editing, endless articles on hooks, teasers and break-outs. But all of these are technical, and cannot replace the sheer momentum of a good story, and the fresh passion for writing history that I had just discovered.

So although I could choose to ‘improve’ the novel, I risk losing something by doing so – that barely discernible excitement that I found through discovering my metier and means of expression.


Editing Historical Fiction, my way

I am in the middle of edits for two of my books, one a young adult novel and one a 400 page adult novel. These are the edits I make before I send out to my agent, a publisher, or in some cases the public. There will be other edits later, but as some publishing houses edit very heavily, some hardly at all, it pays to be picky with your work.

Recently I have seen a plethora of writing books suggesting that you should edit in ‘one pass’.

This does not work for me because of the amount of research I need to check. So here is my editing process. It takes as long as the actual writing of the book.


I always work with a printed copy of the manuscript, and initially I am editing for story. I read like a reader and not a writer, to identify  whether the nuts and bolts of the story work. At its heart, story is about change, so if it’s getting static, alarm bells ring. I mark parts that are slow or boring with a big red pen. Though sometimes boring does not mean cutting stuff, but adding more detail to make it interesting and bring it to life. Usually the first time I print out the draft it needs a lot of re-working –  new chunks need to be written and others lopped off. At this stage I do extensive re-writes. That copy is then like an old rag covered in scribble and crossings out and is re-cycled onto our log-burner!

After more work on the computer to streamline the story, I’m ready for a more detailed edit. Usually I send this newer version out to some readers so I can incorporate their comments when I work on the next edit. One way of speeding it up is to mark all the pages that need edits with sticky post-its. I use the same manuscript and just go through it with different colours for each editing pass. Then with the copy next to me with its colourful fringe, I trawl through the manuscript a page at a time making all the necessary alterations. At this point I am usually fuelled by coffee, a looming deadline, and a desperation to get it finished and move onto the next book.


Here are the passes I make:

  • edit for character. Go through each major character’s arc of action and emotion. Check what they are doing in the scenes where they are absent, and try to refer to these actions in the scenes where they are present. Get a sense of their daily routine – for example how long it takes them to dress, their relationship with servants or ‘betters’, and their class in relation to other characters. Check how they are feeling;  that it is consistent, and that it has development.  Make sure their attitudes are consistent with the period.
  • edit for theme. Highlight any themes that drive the novel, make sure sub-plots echo these themes. Look for metaphor, symbol and meaning. Try to find parallels with today, and highlight  them. They will be useful when you have to promote or tell people about your book.
  • edit for time-scale. In historical fiction it is particularly important to get dates right, and for the narrative to fit within certain fixed parameters or historical milestones. Check travelling times – horseback and boat are very slow, but mail can be surprisingly quick.
  • edit like the most eagle-eyed historian. I have made small errors in my books, (really sorry ) but not because I did not care – I did my best to make the history right! Often it is little things (like the taking for granted of walls and hedges before the enclosures act) that catch you out. Question everything and double check your research. Keep notes in case someone queries your sources. Make notes about where you have changed, bent, or ignored  supposedly ‘known facts’, and why. Two books down the line you might not remember why, but an expert reading your book is bound to write to you and ask.
  • edit for anachronistic dialogue, and for dialogue that fits the character. It is easy to slip into modernism in dialogue, and the quickest way to lose your historical atmosphere. Seemingly innocuous phrases like ‘Oh my God’ have taken on a distinctly teenage flavour since OMG!
  • edit for uninteresting language, spelling mistakes, grammar and typos, or get someone else to proofread it.

My novel grows about 10% during this edit as I re-work dialogue, fill plot loopholes and deepen character.

What is your editing process? Do you have any tips or tricks?





The Art of the Elizabethan Murder Mystery

What does it take to write an Elizabethan Murder Mystery?
I asked the actor Jonathan Digby, whose novel, ‘A Murderous Affair’, is currently flying high in the UK Amazon charts, for some clues.
What appeals to you about Elizabethan History?
The Elizabethan Age is known as the Early Modern period in British history and I think that sums up what is so fascinating about it. It is the perfect crossover point between the medieval period and the modern age and quite a few seeds of our modern obsessions – trade, nationalism, self-made people, famous artists and so on – are sowed, to some extent, during that period. It was also a time of great change – the old world order had collapsed in England – particularly the power of the Roman Catholic church – and out of the ashes a whole new system grew up – I do find trying to pinpoint characters within that whole dynamic quite a fun challenge! There are also lots of great figures – Queen Elizabeth I, Burghley, Walsingham, Leicester, Francis Drake, Walter Raleigh, Christopher Marlowe, Philip Sydney (the list could go on and on) – about whom there is a lot of research and who are also fun to try and capture to some extent in the stories.
I also have a love of the period through being an actor and doing Shakespeare plays – Shakespeare is the pinnacle of an age of enlightenment in the arts, a bit like the Beatles in the 1960s. There was a whole movement of great playwrights during the period and the body of plays gives the modern writer an incredibly rich source of information to draw on.
Please tell me about your main character and what made him enjoyable to write.
John Lovat is an illegitimate son of a Lord. I chose this background for him because I wanted to have a character who could cross believably through the different tiers of Elizabethan society. In the Elizabethan world everybody had their place – their were even maps drawn showing where everyone fitted in from the Queen downwards – and so it presented a problem for a character solving crime amongst both rich and poor. Getting up the social ladder was very desirable but also very difficult. Lovat’s position gives him access to the upper-echelons of society, although his place as one of society’s ‘have-nots’ is never in doubt! To some extent, I also enjoyed making him an ‘anti-Elizabethan’ thus hopefully a prism through whom the wider Elizabethan world can be offset and glimpsed. It is also great fun putting him into difficult situations (as I imagine is the case with a detective from any era) and trying to help him solve them!!
What’s unique about sleuthing in the Tudor era?
I think this is a point where a certain amount of artistic license needs to be taken – there weren’t any ‘detectives’ during the period (they didn’t exist until the 19th century) and certainly very few of the methods that modern crime writers rely on – fingerprints, CSI, DNA etc – had yet to be invented. ‘Policing’ in London in the 16th Century was done by a variety of bodies – the constables who ensured that peace was kept in the different wards, the clergy who made sure that their flock were in church on Sundays, rich and influential individuals who had retainers to do their bidding, the army to a certain extent – it was all a bit of a mess and only loosely corresponded to an idea of justice!
I think sleuthing in the period partly comes down to a character having a unique point of view or insight and also being very observant – it also comes down to being someone who loves solving puzzles. Also, the character has to be compelled to solve the mystery – i.e. if he fails something bad will happen to him, and has to be in a position where he is asked to solve mysteries in the first place. In Lovat’s case he moves from being a retainer in his (legitimate) brother’s household to becoming a spy for Francis Walsingham. In the future, I’m planning on putting him other positions where he will have an opportunity to solve crimes with a distinct set of circumstances. For example, in book two he is heading to France and getting involved in the secession battles that tore the country apart in the later part of the 16th Century. In a later book I am planning on sending him to the English countryside where he will have to battle against people’s superstitions and a ‘conycatcher’ or wise man who the country folk look up to! But all that is for the future …

What to do on the day your book comes out

pic from
Movie Poster Shop

Today my third historical novel, ‘A Divided Inheritance’ is out. For me, this is the culmination of eighteen months of research and writing and so deserves to be celebrated.

Trouble is – often it is only the writer who is so keenly aware of this date – the date that has been anticipated so eagerly for months or years. So here are my tips for a great day when your book is launched, whether or not someone sends you flowers or a big ‘Congratulations’ card.

1. Be your own biggest fan. You of all people, should love your book! Go on, put that five star review on Goodreads (with a suitable note of course saying you are the author.)

2. If you work at a desk, clear your desk, even if you are already working on something else. It gives a sense of something ending and something new beginning. Make your desk look like you’d like it to look all the time. Flowers? Nice new lamp? Go on. If you don’t work at a desk, clear something else. (No, not the dreaded email backlog, that’s not very celebratory!)

3. You’ve achieved something, so you deserve a reward. Writing a book is a big achievement so allow yourself a big reward. At the very least you deserve a day off! That is why I am scheduling this post! Get away from the desk, get some fresh air, even if another writing deadline is looming. Retail therapy or coffee with friends can work. Dinner at a nice restaurant? That day out you promised yourself?

4. If your book is stocked by your local bookshop, go and look at your book on the shelf. Isn’t it great! Don’t be tempted to see all those other books and slump at the competition – instead, think what excellent company you are in – and yes, if you must,  surreptitiously turn yours face out, or put it near the front of the shop!

5. If it’s a virtual book, treat yourself to someone else’s book that was launched at the same time. They will appreciate it, and you might discover a great new writer. Writers love readers!

6. Forget sales. Today is about art and meaning. An idea which was until now only in your head, will soon be in the heads of a lot of other people. It’s an idea only you could have brought into the world. Nobody else. Only you. Good job!

 ‘the aim of every artist is to arrest motion, which is life, by artificial means’

William Faulkner

7. Feed your imagination. If you don’t you might not write another book, so today is a good day to let that imagination of yours roam wild and free. For a historical novelist, museums, galleries and old houses provide food for thought.

8. Mail at least one person to thank them. Often others have invested in your book with help or advice, and it’s good to acknowledge their input especially on the day it comes out. Your family might need some TLC too. ( Tip – You might need to remind them today is launch day.)

9. Give away at least one copy so you know that someone who will enjoy it is reading it. Donate one to your local library or the hospital. There is nothing that makes the whole process feel more real than to see it in someone else’s hands.

10. Wish your own book Good Luck. Find a quiet space and give it the send off it deserves – toast it in champagne, shout out its name, give it a hug and kiss  – or whatever feels right.


And here is my book, doesn’t it look splendid? Big thanks to the publishers, Macmillan, and especially to Jenny Geras and Natasha Harding my editors.