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A little bit of a book plug…

The latest Amy Hammond cosy mystery is out on Thursday. It’s called ‘Death By Misadventure’ and it’s available on Kindle Unlimited. I’m looking forward to hearing people’s reactions to it because in some ways it’s sad because it's the ending of an era and in others it’s very exciting because it's the start of a new one.

I’ve always hated the sort of books in which characters don’t grow and change because of their experiences and it’s been getting more and more obvious that Peter’s trainee spooks aren’t trainees any more. Colin hates what the job has become and Becky is being groomed for great things, so it was time to let them go and for Peter to decide what world he wanted to live in. Amy has made that decision but she's not blundering round saying 'what?' and 'why?' and 'oh, help' as often so her relationships with the new characters show that she's grown in confidence and accepted the strange world. I'm not sure I could say she enjoys it at the time, but she likes feeling that she counts for something.

One of the underlying themes of these books is that there are some jobs that you can never leave. Parenting strikes me as being one of them, and Peter’s sort of spying, where you’re constantly watching and assessing and piecing together jigsaw puzzles is another. I imagine medicine is much the same, so you may think you want a total change but, like so much else in life, it isn’t anything like that simple.

The other issue is that there’s only so much crime that you can realistically find in one small area, and if something weird happened every time I went on holiday, I’d stop going on holiday. So I wanted the new characters to bring new locations and story possibilities and that meant looking a little further afield. Add to that my fascination with local history and my beloved Harbourside, where we locals are very careful not to notice anyone who might hypothetically be out on training exercises and where the past is so close to the surface that it sometimes breaks through and one of the new characters was obvious. The other surprised me, which often happens because I focus on the characters and sometimes they decide to tell their own stories. There are another two in varying draft stages after this, and I have an idea for one that’s very much Swansmere-based cooking nicely so I hope to get to writing that in June.

Anyway, back to Death by Misadventure. It’s also about the past, and loyalty and friendship and loss and the way that grief never quite goes away and the way that ‘the greater good’ somehow never seems to involve my greater good or anyone else’s I know. Sacrifices must be made, but again, somehow never by the person who’s talking about the need for them. And that, really, is what Peter and Amy and so many of my stories are about. The need for there to be someone to do the right thing and not the expedient one and to fight for those who can’t fight for themselves. It’s about loyalty and friendship and the power of good food shared with people who care about you and how hobbies bring people together.

I hope you like the new characters and want to stick with them, and I promise that the old ones won’t vanish. They’ll just get on with their lives and have less complicated ones and I hope for the same for all of us.

So, on to today’s picture and a little happy dance, because my two favourite swans, Punky and Lucky, have hatched their clutch of eggs. I’ve known Punky since he was a know it all year old cygnet who got a fishing hook caught in his beak. We kept him calm till Swan Rescue could arrive and take it out and checked on him every day and hand-fed him while his beak healed, and yes, he is an argumentative swan who is very protective of his territory and what he does to cyclists and dogs who get too close isn’t nice, but he’s an amazing parent and so is the far more placid Lucky. The ducklings are hanging out at a safe distance from this little family, because any predator who tried to pick on them would get what-for from Punky so you could call him a hero swan in his own unique way!

They brought their nine cygnets across from the island in the lake where they nest to meet us, and they were, as expected, very well behaved little fluffballs. I know they won’t all survive because that;’s not how nature works, but in a world that seems to be a lot worse than it’s been for a while, there are 15 cygnets, 16 ducklings and 32 goslings in the park. Or it may be 33 because they kept moving and they’re all alike… It doesn’t really matter because there’s new life and new hope and gradually, gradually, the days are getting warmer.

So have a good week till we meet again and maybe enjoy the first 3 Oldcastle books which are on special offer at 99p and 99c. They’re the Christmas Sparrow, A Whole New Life and Having it All. I hope you’ll enjoy them because they’re sweet and gentle and, selfishly, I’m finally getting time to tell the stories of a couple of very interesting minor characters and enjoying seeing how the major ones from these books are getting on!


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