In The Plotting Shed

In The Plotting Shed
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Friday, 7 September 2018

Up close and personal

I'm aware that most of the people who read this little blog enjoy my stories, and for that I thank you. I'm also aware that I haven't delivered any for quite a while, despite my pledges to do so. I thought I'd share why.
In the last two years, I've undergone quite a few major changes in my personal life. My Dad died and I nursed him through it at my sister's house. Then both I and my husband had health scares that involved invasive, though minor, procedures. Then we moved to France and our beloved and beautiful daughter got married in our garden there.  This is us on The Big Day, leaving off our dusty shorts and gardening gloves and getting scrubbed up for the occasion.


All our hard work was worth it when we saw the tenderness and sincerity of the bride and groom.



We love the lifestyle, the climate, our new friends, and the stunning landscape of this corner of Aquitaine and hope to spend more rather than less time here in the future. Our good fortune is now forcing us to rethink how we balance our new way of life and more decisions lie ahead. Most of all we feel tremendously lucky to have this chance after our long careers in health and education.
Meanwhile, I just had a Bookbub advert and Daffodils reached #3 in both the US and UK charts amongst the millions of free books on Amazon. Heartened and encouraged by these results and the generous reviews it generated, I'm excited about writing again. Exhausted but excited!
Here's one review that really warmed my heart:

"I have always been drawn to historical fiction. Biography and history....for years my number one read! Yet, fiction written enveloped within the true past can be as real as the writer who researches past times and events. From page one...this book captured me. After a few chapters, I forced myself to only read a couple chapters a day. For I wanted to stretch out the enjoyment of its story and...for once..to have several days to embrace the emotions that a great author can evoke! Thank you, Alex Martin. Have downloaded the sequel. Looking forward to its pages that enables me to escape my elderly days!"

This review touched me particularly because books have provided me with a refuge through my toughest times, and there have been a few, and one of my biggest motivations to write is to provide an escape to other readers. And who doesn't love being called 'great'! Not sure I can live up to that but it's very nice to hear, all the same.

I'm 80,000 words into Woodbine and Ivy, the fourth book in the Katherine Wheel series but it's turning out to be a mammoth project. It may even become books four AND five.
The story involves the points of view of three of the children in Kate and Cassandra's families. These young people are all very different from each other but their lives have always intertwined. The pressures brought by the Second World War both divide and unite them.
This is an era that has always fascinated me, perhaps because growing up near London I saw so many bomb craters amongst the houses and the war remained vivid in the living memory of my many aunts. There are many experts on this time in our collective history and I'm therefore being very careful with research, which is necessarily extensive, as the story is set not only in England but also my beloved France. The politics of French resistance boggle the mind with their complexities before, through and after the war.
One very enjoyable part of the research, which I thoroughly recommend, has been watching "A French Village"" - an enormous box set - 6 sets of 6 discs. (The DVDs are in French with English subtitles. It's a dedicated watch as some of the scenes are graphic and brutal.)
It is set near Besancon on the France/Swiss border during the French occupation. The characterisation and plot are superb and have set my bar very high for Woodbine and Ivy.
The book(s) will also attempt to cover the destinies of Cheadle Manor itself as well as the RAF, Land Girls and the role of the Katherine Wheel garage/factory during the long conflict. It is the most challenging project I've ever tackled and pretty daunting. The story has long been outlined so I know where it's going. The thrilling part of writing is not knowing quite how the characters are going to get to their pre-destinations.
So, dear readers, please be patient with me, unless you've already given up and gone elsewhere, as I labour away at the computer in between my exciting personal adventures.
I appreciate every single one of you and am very grateful for every review you so generously write. Keep them coming and I promise to deliver the next instalment as soon as I can!



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