A friend who writes good and accessible poetry – by name of Paul Scott – has a poem titled Christmas is Going . . . and then what? He says we face the New Year with the fear that it’s going to be more of the same. It’s a common complaint at this time of year, and I’m not referring to colds, flu and all the other ills that seem to arrive in January. What does the future hold? For me, it’s the hope that I will have more stories to write while keeping up with friends and family. I’m conscious that bits of me don’t work as well as they used to do, but while the ideas are still coming for more stories I’m content.
On the plus side, I have to tell you that the hardback of the new Bea Abbot – titled FALSE PRIDE – is now published in the UK, though it will take another three months to get to the USA and Australia. In this story, Bea’s weekend is interrupted by a client bearing a briefcase of jewels entrusted to her by Lucas Rycroft, her art expert employer, who has disappeared. Other members of the dysfunctional Rycroft family are also after the jewels . . . and then a body is discovered at Lucas’s home and events begin to spin out of control.
I shall be sending off the mss of the next Ellie Quicke story – titled MURDER BY SUGGESTON – to my editor tomorrow, and await her verdict with some anxiety. It’s going to take her some time to get back to me, and in the interval I feel like one of those participants in a game show, or in Strictly Come Dancing, where the presenter says, ‘And the winner is . . .’ And you count out the seconds, one, two . . . fifteen sixteen . . .’ And eventually out pops the name. I sympathise with the strained expressions on the contestants’ faces as they await judgment, as I also wait for someone to pronounce on my work.
Meanwhile, I have to sit and think – or lie down and think – about the next story. This is the time of year when I have to stop ‘being’ Ellie Quicke and start ‘being’ Bea Abbot. I am no longer a housewife who is not sure where she put her handbag, but a business woman who regularly goes to the beauty parlour. Ellie wears blue and white. Bea wears green and black. Ellie’s shoes – which she’s probably put on that morning to do some gardening in – are worn and comfortable. Bea likes expensive boots. Of course there are similarities. Both are hospitable and both are hunters – though probably Ellie would deny that. And no, I’m not really either of them, but I slip into and out of their characters when I write their stories.
My Christmas story for the Methodist Recorder is called ‘What is a gift?’ It’s not about money, but what a gift can cost our friends in terms of time and trouble. If you can’t get hold of the Christmas issue of the Recorder and would like to read it, just email me and I’ll send you a copy, free, by email.
And finally; may the New Year bring you good health, a decent balance of work and play, and a quiet mind to face whatever may come into your lives.