Friday, 23 November 2012


The week before last, I left a comment which hinted that I was going to tell you a story about the world in which Marcia lives for most of the year. Wind the clock back some fifteen years or so to a chilly March Sunday which, weather wise, could easily have been in the middle of the winter.

Sally (who had bought her cottage many years before from Marcia and had become a close friend) was walking down the road past where we then lived to go to church and Marcia joined her.

“Will the girls be home for Christmas, Sally?” she asked.

“Umm. Well. You do know it’s nearly Easter, don’t you?” Sally retorted.

Poor Marcia was terribly embarrassed as she told me when she came home. Life in a parallel universe can be equally as fascinating as any of David Attenborough’s ‛Life on Earth’ series – and sometimes just as scary.

She was writing the first of the Chadwick Trilogy, Looking Forward. This short extract may bring that book back to some of you.

By the time Prue arrived later on Christmas Eve everything was ready. When she came into the hall, fetched from the station by Fox, they were all waiting for her. The tree, soaring up to the ceiling, was covered in lit candles, the only light apart from leaping firelight. The tinsel and baubles shone and glittered and tiny parcels, beautifully wrapped, hung from the stronger boughs. Holly and mistletoe, tied with scarlet ribbon, decorated the hall; mince-pies and sherry were waiting on the table before the fire. She stood quite still, just inside the door, and stared in delight while the family smiled at her pleasure.
'It's perfect,' she said at last and - as though she had released them from a spell - they surged forward to greet her, hugging and kissing her, making her welcome.

Now, as I write, with the signings nearly over (one more on 1 December) Marcia is already withdrawing slightly from the here and now as she sinks deeper into the world being inhabited by her characters.
There are no particularly apt pictures for this week so I thought I would share a couple I have taken recently that I quite like. This is Vixen Tor on Dartmoor. It usually merges into the background but the light was making it stand out in relief which was rather good.
One of the problems we have always had (but now resolved, I am happy to say) was that various Inland Revenue inspectors just could not grasp how the creative process works.

“You have here traveling expenses for MOTS? Please explain.” I would be asked.

Having explained that MOTS was shorthand for Memories of the Storm, I went on to say that Marcia needed to visit where her characters were to connect properly with them. Clearly this concept was inexplicable to those from the Inland Revenue and I can still see the deep suspicion and dis-belief staring at me from the other side of the desk. What I was saying was the absolute truth – Marcia never suffers from writer’s block but there are times when she, as she puts it, “hits the buffers” and then we set off to wherever we need to be going. We are rarely on the road for more than half an hour when she starts talking about the book – exploring new ideas that are coming to her as we drive along and through the area where the book is set. It may be that she wishes to explore a town or village and we stop so that she can wander off (on her own) and see what connections she can make.
We thought we would miss the sunsets when we left The Hermitage. Well, this was taken from our bedroom window the other night when the moon (you can just see it top left) was only a few days old so, clearly, we were wrong.
Would the books be the same if we never droned about like this? Would there be any books? I can’t give you a definitive answer to that question but, obviously, the way we go about things works – it produces very popular and (if I may say so) moving novels. Eventually, after both sides said a lot of things that should not have been said (and I hope they regretted these as much as I did) they accepted my arguments.

We have made two such trips this week, grabbing moments of reasonable weather in between the torrential rain which has flooded so much of the west country recently, and I am happy to report that matters trundle along very satisfactorily.
Just to prove that I haven't forgotten the Jackdaws. Here is one prancing (do you agree that is the right word?) on the drive - track, really - that leads from the house.