Newsletter no.147, March 2020

We’ve been having a very mild winter here in London, GB. (Yes, I know! Global warming!) I must admit that I enjoy not having to dress up in so many clothes that I waddle like penguin. I know there were storms and some frosty nights, but I do so appreciate the afternoons getting longer, getting up in the daylight and seeing the flowers begin to appear in gardens. I cross the road every morning to walk past a superb pink Daphne in full flower. What a display! And we who garden discuss why that particular plant is splendid whereas our own Daphnes have failed to thrive.

I’ve been mulling over how to name various characters. Sometimes the right name for a particular person comes easily but every now and then I have to use the Search and Replace key two or three times before I am satisfied. Names can tell you a lot about the age and background of the person concerned. Fashions come and go. It’s likely that someone called Violet, Gladys or Herbert will be of a certain age, while you can probably make a good guess at when Jason or Kylie were born.

Then, adding a ‘y’ or ‘ie’ to a name infantilises them; think of Timmy, Freddy or Georgy. Give them their full name and they grow up; Timothy, Frederick and Georgina. I had to find an appropriate name for Joe’s annoying elder brother in a new story about him which comes out in Lent (no, I don’t have a date yet). I asked around and collected some beauties, but none were quite right until I chanced on Teddy, which I think has the right connotation. Teddy’s been spoiled because of ill health and he often behaves badly. Yes, I think that’s about right.

I continued to work on the next book, where I came across another character who was difficult to name. This is an older woman who could be a clone of our much-loved-and-hated Diana. Only, this woman is where Diana aims to be. She’s rich and bitchy. I’ve called her Felicity, which is the opposite of what that name represents. I think it works. Maybe I’ll have to change it as the book progresses.

The next in the Abbot Agency series comes out this month. It’s called FALSE CONCLUSION. Evelina, a wealthy but backward schoolgirl is dumped on Bea Abbott and her ward, Bernice for the holidays. An uncle of Evelina’s suddenly dies and her family signal that the girl had something to do with his death, but at the same time they make a fuss of young Bernice. Is this because she will be a very rich girl one day? Then Bea’s long-divorced ex-husband turns up and tries to mend fences with her. Is it time to forgive him?

Also out this month are the large print and paperback versions of MURDER BY SUGGESTION. This is the one in which Diana and her friends have all been thrown out by their husbands who accuse them of murder . . . so they take refuge with Ellie and expect her to find a way out of their problems. And finally, I’ve just received the new MP3 CD of this same story as an audiobook read by Julia Franklin. Available in bookshops and libraries.

A blessing on all who show kindness to others.

Veronica Heley