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The way it ends...

A question I'm persistently asked - and have been so again this week - is do I know how the tvdetective series will end?

The answer is yes, and as it's the Saturday of a long weekend, and you've caught me at an upbeat moment, I can even give you a few little clues as to the outcomes. 

Firstly - and this is the most commonly posed question of all - yes, the Dan / Claire situation will be resolved.  But I'm not saying any more about that!  You'll just have to wait and see.

A little aside here (you were waiting for it, come on, you know me well enough by now), and it's one particularly for my female readers.  Yes, I know Dan is an idiot, yes, I know he treats poor Claire dreadfully, yes, I too wonder what she sees in him sometimes and why she hangs around, and yes, I'm sorry about all that!  He's just emotionally inept, and that's the way it is.  Give him some leeway, he might just come round and learn... maybe.

And no, don't start asking that other oft-heard question about whether Dan is in any way based upon myself!  That's a definite no comment.

Right, back to the point.  I'm guessing, at the moment, there will probably be around ten or twelve books in the series, which puts us roughly at the half-way point (that's based on the sizeable assumption / hope that people want to keep reading them, and some poor publisher will be willing to inflict them upon the world).

I've got plots in mind for at least the next three books, depending on how they pan out when I start planning them properly.  All the familiar characters should feature until the end - I don't have much in the way of plans to kill off one of the "stars", though it can be tempting sometimes!

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My fickle mistress

A little musing upon the muse...

She's been remarkably fickle of late, and I'm not quite sure why this is.

When I came back from the fine times of the Writers Hols in Swanwick, she was resolutely missing and not a clue where she might have gone.  This was quite a concern, until I came to think it was a mixture of tiredness - and boy, I was tired - and post hols comedown.

So I waited, got some rest, and bingo!  Back she came, bursting into my life, as only she can do.

I'm talking here in the context of my current "project".  A quick aside (you're well used to them by now) - I love the way writers use that word as it can cover such a huge range of work, from a few sentences to a great novel.

My project of the moment, as I've mentioned in previous ramblings, is a stage play.  I'm very much enjoying writing it, and making passable progress - but all that's conditional on the muse coming to visit.

And now she's really playing games.  Yesterday she was here and vividly and lovingly with me, as I just wrote and wrote.  And looking back this morning on what I did yesterday, most of it seems to make some kind of sense.

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A hard landing

Here's a peculiar happening - a Saturday morning that feels rather like a Monday.

I suspect it's the old return home after being on hols (kind of!) thing, a sort of bumpy landing on the airstrip of normality.  As mentioned in my previous blog, I had an amazing time in Swanwick at the Writers' Summer School, but as ever with something so exhilarating it all ends far too soon.

A quick and traditional Hall aside here - why must it be the way in life that the dull bits drag on and the fun bits fly?  "Dear whatever powers that be, can you kindly change this in future upgraded versions of existence..."

Anyway, as I was saying, last night I slept for nigh on ten hours straight through - Swanwickers, you tired me out! - something which I can't remember happening since the carefree days of childhood.  And I awoke with a mix of great pleasure at the week and sadness at it being over.

Thanks firstly to all those kind people who've got in touch to compliment me on the lectures, and to request my friendship on Facebook.  I'm proud to report I now have 140 friends, which in my view almost makes me young and very happening!

And secondly, now my mind has settled, a quick recap over the many highlights, on the surface to share my thoughts with you, "like what these blog things is supposed to be about", or perhaps just for me to have the pleasure of reliving them -

The buskers night and the great entertainments there, the discos and the dancing (attempted dancing in some cases), the spontenous chats that sprang up anywhere and everywhere, fuelled by the shared passion for writing, the guest speakers, the pleasure of lecturing to a great and talented group of crime enthusiasts, and finally, and most importantly - simply the people.

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Bitter-sweet moments

I've just finished my last lecture of the Swanwick Writers' Summer School, and am left amidst a mix of emotions.

Firstly, there's a great and warming pleasure in that - from my perspective at least! - it's gone well and the kind folk who came along to the talks appear to have got a fair bit from them.

I think I can now reveal that a sizeable mass of work went into the lectures. In fact, the planning started just after Xmas.  I was keenly aware it was the first extended session of teaching I'd ever done, and quite something to take on.

So, there's plenty of relief in the old Hall mind at the moment too.  But there's also a strange sadness.

One of the most wonderful things about Swanwick is how quickly people bond here.  It may be the holiday thing, it may be the shared passion of writing, it might even be the excellent entertainments that we enjoy night after night (I tried some Latin Dancing last night, but that's another story entirely, and maybe an 18 certificate - needless to say of one cursed with clumsiness that my efforts weren't entirely successful, to put it mildly), but it just happens.

I've been made to feel so very welcome, and enjoyed the company of my group to the extent that when the lecture was winding up today I could feel a tremble in the voice and a gathering tension in my throat.

It's been a privilege to be here to share in a fantastic week, so here's a formal, but heartfelt, thank you to all the people who came along to witness my ramblings, and of course the organisers for all their hard work.

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A writing "holiday"

By my reckoning, that's half way through my Writers' Holiday at Swanwick, so I thought it was time to put fingers to keyboard to let you, my poor, long-suffering reader, know how it was going.

Great is the simple answer!

The easy bit first, the teaching.  Regular sufferers of this blog will be familiar with my agonising about teaching - the old "who am I to do it, how do I even know what to do?" thing.  Well, the kind folk here have eased those concerns beautifully.  I'm blessed with a great group of aspiring crime writers, very talented too, some 50 in number, who have been good enough to listen to what I'm saying and even feedback that it's all making some sort of sense.

Big relief, and, if truth be told - big smile too.  I've been preparing for these lectures since just after Xmas!

Secondly onto the more vague issue of the "feel" of the place.  And that's a big rocket to the clouds too.  It's great.  All the people here, staff and students, have been so warm and welcoming, there was never an issue of me feeling awkward or out of place.  The campus is stunning; beautiful and peaceful too, as is the local countryside.  I never thought I'd say this, but I went for a run yesterday and it was nearly (nearly!) as fine as my native Devon.

The school is beautifully organised, it's impossible not to feel at home, and here's a measure of that.  We had a disco for our entertainment one evening, and even the ungainly, arhythmic Hall creature felt no hesitation in dancing, or some such approximation thereof.

So, for those of you who aren't here and might spare a tiny thought for this wandering author, fear not for all is well.  And for those of you who are, here's a hearty thank you for treating me to such a fine time.  Cheers!

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I'm good at doubts.  Lots of things in life I never really got the hang of - relationships, reverse parking, fashion sense, throwing the javelin, baking cakes, multiplying matrices, and many, many others - but doubts were never a problem.

Self doubts are a particular strength. And so I write to you today surrounded by a whole host of the carping crowd.

It's back to teaching again. Tomorrow, I embark upon the longest spell of the teaching of writing that I've ever attempted - almost a whole week, no less.  I've worked hard at the plans and ideas, the exercises and the interactive bits, and think I've come up with a passable series of moderately informative and even occasionally entertaining lectures...

...but now, as the moment to deliver them approaches, here come the doubts.

It's all back to the same old question, the one I've mentioned many a time before - who am I to try to teach?  What do I really know about writing?  Why should anyone listen to me?

I'm trying to reassure myself with the soothing whisper that such feelings are only natural, a sort of "first night nerves" thing, but nonetheless I'm feeling a tad on the wobbly side at the moment.

I know I'll get through, it's something I've experienced before.  In the run up to any big gig or talk, I'll commonly feel like this. It's only natural.

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Another journey

One thing I've said time and again in these blogs is how much you discover about yourself when you start writing.

For me, a key revelations is the trait that I have to continually challenge myself.  When I first thought about writing, the question was whether I had the discipline and ability to write a book? 

When I managed that, it was whether I could get the thing into a passable enough shape to be published.  And after reaching that rather surprising/alarming landmark, it was onto the nerve wracking business of going out and talking about the thing at libraries and literary festivals.

And then came the even more daunting prospect of writing another one...

The reason for this continual need to test myself goes back to my childhood I suspect, and feeling I always had to prove myself.  I don't think I'll go into any more of that here if you don't mind - I'm happy to say a fair bit in these blogs, but that might be a trespass too far into a very tender land.

Anyway, back to the point, and it was this.  I mentioned before about this play I'm writing, based on the tvdetective books.  I'm now looking back in amazement at how easily I agreed to do it, as if it were just the simplest of natural progressions from writing novels. Naive or what?!

I'm now well into planning the play, and have come to properly understand just what a mammoth task I'm taking on.  It's not just the plot and characters and writing, it's all the direction and lighting and scene changes and thinking about how to use the stage and so much!

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Sad songs

You kind folk who take time to be interested in my humble scribblings are certainly into your music.

It doesn't feel so long ago that I wrote in a blog of why I don't - unlike quite a few other authors - quote or mention songs in the tvdetective books (to recap - because I think it can be exclusive to those who don't know the works in question was the reason).

Well, another musically themed question has arrived, asking what my favourite sad songs are?  And as I'm in a kind of appropriate mood to answer it, here we go.

A quick aside (you're used to them by now, come on) - part of the reason is that I've been feeling a little nostalgic of late.  It's hard to say exactly why, but at least some of the explanation is a song I heard on the very fine BBC Radio Station Number Two. 

It was Roger Whittaker's The Last Farewell, and it took me straight back through the many intervening years, an instant transportation, to my childhood.  I recall my parents playing it in the car, back in what must have been 1975 or so, and thus suffered the old misty eyes syndrome for days long lost.

Anyhow, back to the question, and away from another of the familiar Hall digressions.  The answer is as follows -

Oh, first one more little caveat.  I might just be speaking for Dan and myself here, if you know what I mean - and I suspect you do.

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