Oh dear – I’ve just realised that I haven’t written this diary since May. My only excuse is that I’ve been working hard on Wesley Peterson’s next investigation, The Butterfly Cage, so I haven’t been idle. At last I’ve managed to send the book off to my editor at Little, Brown and while I’m waiting for her verdict, I’m thinking of an exciting new project – although I’m saying nothing about it yet. As I said in my last diary entry, inspiration has been rather thin on the ground during the current crisis but I’m hoping things will improve as life slowly gets back to normal.
I was tidying my desk (something I always do when I’ve just finished a book) when I came across last year’s appointments diary. 2019 was a wonderful year and the highlights included a fantastic weekend with Murder Squad at The Word in South Shields, Slaughter in Southwold and a lovely crime weekend in Beverley where my murder mystery was performed by brilliant actors who could give most Oscar winners a run for their money. Then, to top it all, there was the Daggers Dinner where I was awarded the CWA Dagger in the Library. It was certainly a year I’ll never forget.
All the memories of those happy times reminded me of the plans I had for 2020. Having won the Dagger in the Library, my diary was full of library talks, murder mysteries I was going to present, and festivals such as CrimeFest and Newcastle Noir. But of course those diary entries have now been scribbled out – cancelled or postponed.
One of the main pleasures of a writer’s life (in my case at least) is coming out of the self-imposed isolation needed to create a book to meet the people who read those books and share an enthusiasm for crime fiction. Over lockdown many writers have missed meeting readers and library staff and have found it difficult to concentrate on writing without this contact with the outside world. I’ve been really touched and encouraged by emails from readers telling me how much my books have helped them through lockdown and entertained them in isolation. This has meant an awful lot. In the current situation it’s easy to feel that you’re working in a vacuum and it’s so good to know that your efforts might have been of some use to people in difficult times. It’s wonderful to see that libraries and book shops have now started to reopen. Hope it won’t be long before we can meet again.
Last week we decided to get away for a few nights so, wanting to support the hospitality industry which has been going through such a difficult time, we booked a hotel in the Lakes. It was a lovely break and I’m so glad we went because the people in the hotel and restaurants were so welcoming and relieved to be getting back to work again. When we were on a long walk around Grasmere we met an elderly gentleman, obviously a local, who thanked us for visiting. We said it was a pleasure – thank you for having us. Getting out amongst nature is so good for the mental health and even though this country can’t promise a Mediterranean climate, there’s such a lot to see. Happy Staycation (and don’t forget to take some good crime novels with you!)