Newsletter no.138, June 2019

At this time of the year the spring flowering shrubs and bulbs have finished their display for the year and need to be cut back, trimmed, tidied neatly or whatever. Now we moved into this house fifty years ago when there were a couple of old roses in the garden, plus a lot – and I mean a LOT – of horse chestnut and lime seedlings, some of which had grown to the height of the house. Now it’s not a big garden, and the amount of sun which actually reached the ground through the leaves of the trees was minimal, so the trees had to go.

Then we planted this and that . . . and most of the things we planted then have had to be cut back drastically this year so that we can see the sun again. I do now have more room to plant things . . . which will grow and grow until . . . you get the picture? But that’s gardening for you.

The proofs of MURDER FOR GOOD arrived just as I was galloping on with the first draft of the next Bea Abbot. It’s always difficult switching stories, as my peculiar brain keeps on producing bits of conversations which are happening in one story while I’m trying to work out what’s wrong with a sentence in the other.

Also, as I get older, I find that some words which I’ve been accustomed to hearing or reading, have gone out of fashion. I deplore some of these losses. (I still can’t get used to hearing the word ‘wicked’ used as a description for something amusingly naughty.) This time I was pulled up by my use of the word ‘puce’ to describe someone’s colour when he looks as if he’s going to have a heart attack. Come to think of it, I haven’t heard the word for many, many years, and my editor didn’t know it, either. So what do we substitute for it? Scarlet? Too bright a colour. A greyish-pink? I’ve used the word ‘grey’ elsewhere in that paragraph. We settled on crimson, which will be all right, sort of. But not as good as puce, which my dictionary says is a brownish-purple.

I’ve just heard that the hardback of Murder for Good will be out on August 30th in the UK, earlier than I had expected. The e-book will be two months later on October 2nd. If I’ve counted on my fingers correctly, this means the hardback will be available in the USA at the end of November . . . by which time I should have delivered the mss of the next Abbot Agency book. Sometimes I think I’m on some sort of merry-go-round. . .

May a good balance of sun and rain in June make our gardens grow and delight our eyes and our hearts.

Veronica Heley