I am in rural Yorkshire, a few miles outside Harrogate, staying at The Granary, a delightful first floor loft conversion, where I am working flat out on The Northern Elements. This is a novel set on the other side of the Pennines in my native Blackburn and set in 1890, 1960 and 2015.
That very fact might suggest that careful research and meticulous plotting have been in order and that I have not been making things easy for myself with this triple time scale.
I finished Part One a little while ago and felt very pleased with it. Then as I moved things into a more recent period, I had a little crisis of confidence. Could I really deal with the complex threading I’d set up? Not for the first time in my time as a scribbler, I felt that a change of scene might kick start my ideas and, not for the first time, it has.
There’s nothing here. If you look at a Google map, there is a very big farm and acres and acres of farmland. There are wall-to-wall sheep hereabouts and a very handsome and aristocratic horse in an overcoat, who appears to be a tad embarrassed to be standing around amongst these woolly plebs. There are lots of crows and I’ve seen a kestrel and a buzzard. Beneath the apartment is a store housing more potatoes than I have ever seen in my entire life. All of which has nothing to do with what I’m writing.
I’m not sure why these excursions tend to be so productive. Perhaps it’s just that the mind is jerked out of unfamiliar grooves. Perhaps it’s the isolation. Perhaps it’s just that, having paid the rent, I may as well make it worthwhile.
Today, I have been immersed in the strange world of forensic pathology. It has given me the creeps and I hope it will put the willies up my readers in due course. For the moment I will say no more except that I’m looking to publish in early summer.