Location: Bristol. With Maggie James.

It’s a while since we’ve had a location guest post here, so I was really pleased when crime writer Maggie James agreed to do one for the publication of her new book, She’ll Never Tell. I’ve read the book (a really exciting family drama with a very unexpected ending), but the Bristol area is somewhere I’ve never been – so we’ll hand straight over to Maggie to tell us about it:

Thank you, Linda, for featuring She’ll Never Tell on your blog! All my psychological thrillers are set in Bristol, but since my move to the north-east of England, Newcastle and its surroundings now get a look-in. For those of you unfamiliar with the UK, Bristol is an ancient city located in the south-west. Its beautiful suspension bridge is a well-known symbol of the area, and features in my fifth novel, After She’s Gone. Needless to say, as is the case with psychological thrillers, nothing good happens there for my character Dana Golden – quite the opposite!

I grew up on the east side of Bristol, and I’ve used locations such as St George and Kingswood in many of my books. She’ll Never Tell features the gorgeous Vassals Park, and in particular the area known as Snuff Mills, where an old water mill sometimes still turns. Despite the name, it was never used for grinding snuff but for cutting and crushing stone from nearby quarries. It’s thought the name comes from a miller nicknamed ‘Snuffy Jack’, whose apron was always covered in snuff.

I used Snuff Mills as the setting in which Sonia Harding, the protagonist’s mother in She’ll Never Tell, dies. I spent a happy hour revisiting the area as part of my research, and the section of the river shown below is where I killed off poor Sonia. Snuff Mills is very picturesque, with a river flowing through woodland and grassy banks, and it’s where, as a child, I’d fish for minnows and sticklebacks (before returning them unharmed, of course.)

Besides Bristol, I decided to set part of She’ll Never Tell closer to home in the village of Tynemouth, situated where the River Tyne meets the North Sea. Perched high on a headland overlooking the bay is the majestic Tynemouth Castle and Priory, and the castle plays an important role in the narrative. One of my main characters spends possibly the worst night of her life in Tynemouth, and makes a decision the next day that will have catastrophic consequences. I love being unkind to my unfortunate characters!

Thank you, Maggie! She’ll Never Tell is available in kindle format from Amazon, with the paperback version to follow soon. Click the cover image to see the book on Amazon, and to tell you more about it, here’s the blurb :

The sudden death of her mother shatters Olivia Gilchrist’s world. Grief turns to shock when a post-mortem reveals Sonia has lied to her daughter in the cruellest possible way. Angry and hurt, Olivia vows to uncover the truth.

Meanwhile, Olivia’s neighbour, Elena, harbours a dark secret. Now the past has caught up with her, forcing Elena to go into hiding.

Then Olivia discovers Elena was involved in Sonia’s deceit. She has questions she’s desperate to ask her former neighbour. Olivia suspects, however, that Elena is warped and unstable. Tracking her down may be difficult and dangerous.

The temptation proves too strong, and a game of cat and mouse with a vengeful woman ensues. One that has the potential to turn deadly…

A gripping novel of psychological suspense, She’ll Never Tell is the story of a decades-old secret that refuses to stay hidden.

Maggie James is a British author who lives near Newcastle-upon-Tyne. She writes psychological suspense novels.

Before turning her hand to writing, Maggie worked mainly as an accountant, with a diversion into practising as a nutritional therapist. Diet and health remain high on her list of interests, along with travel. Accountancy does not, but then it never did. The urge to pack a bag and go off travelling is always lurking in the background! When not writing, going to the gym, practising yoga or travelling, Maggie can be found seeking new four-legged friends to pet; animals are a lifelong love!

You can find out more about Maggie and her books on her website, Facebook, Twitter and Goodreads, or visit her Amazon author page.

Posted in books, Guest Posts, travel | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Sand Sculpture Festival

A couple of kilometres up Lake Constance from here lies Rorschach, a small town with a harbour and a lovely lakeside park. They’ve had an international sandsculpture festival there ever since 1999, the year of the big solar eclipse, when this sculpture was the winner. It’s now immortalised in stone in the lake park. This year, the theme was “Small world, tiny dreams” and I decided to take before, during and after photos – so here we go:

Before. Not much to see:

During. Taking shape:

After. I was worried when I went to take these – the weather had held all week, but the evening after the judging, the heavens opened and we had several hours of torrential rain accompanied by high winds. Next day, most of the sculptures were marked, but all except one was still standing:

And the winners. The public vote went to this one, “The Flat Earth Theory” by Marielle Heessels (NL) and Leonardo Ugolini (I):

And the judges’ vote went to this one, “Fragile Link” by Maija and Karls Ile from Lettland. I’d have voted for this one too – I think it’s one of the most spectacular sculptures I’ve seen there over the years. Yes, that is a split and a hole right through the figure. Unbelievable that it withstood the weather the previous night.

You can see more (and better) photos in the local paper HERE. (On a desktop pc, click through with the fine arrow on the right to see them all.)

Next week, we’re having writer Maggie James on the blog, talking about the location of her latest book She’ll Never Tell – stand by for more photos!

Posted in Life in Switzerland, travel | Tagged , , | 4 Comments

Classic Comfort Reads… with Cass Grafton

The idea behind the Classic Comfort posts is that each featured writer chooses a favourite title from the classics – we’ll define ‘classic’ as pre-1940 – and a favourite comfort read, a book they always return to, for whatever reasons. As third book in each post, we’ll have one by the writer.

This week, we have Cass Grafton, who writes contemparary and historical regency romance. Over to Cass:

Classic:

Credited with being the father of the detective novel, Wilkie Collins wrote several intricately plotted Victorian mysteries. I’ve read them all, but my favourite is The Woman in White—published in serial form in 1859/1860.

This novel captured me with suspenseful narrative, atmospheric settings—from a fog-bound London to the bleak wilds of Cumberland—and Collins’ emphasis on a strong female character in Marian Halcombe.

Walter Hartright (the lead) embodies all the characteristics of later private detectives as he searches to uncover the true villain as the plot reels to and fro to a fascinating climax.

Comfort:

When my head is in disarray, my go-to comfort read is the Harry Potter series.

Prisoner of Azkaban (the third novel) is my favourite. There’s still enough magic about Harry’s story at this stage—despite the darker influences lurking beneath the surface—and Rowling’s skilful plotting takes my breath away.

I’ve recently realised writers like Collins and Rowling had a subliminal influence on my work, and I can’t write a book now without a mystery element, having fun as I drop clues throughout the narrative to see if the reader will pick up on them.

Thank you, Cass!
I’ve read several of Cass’s books now, including The Particular Charm of Miss Jane Austen and its sequel, The Unexpected Past of Miss Jane Austen, both of which were co-written with American writer Ada Bright. They’re clever and amusing books, and I haven’t quite given up hope that they’ll be joined by a third one day!

Here’s the blurb for The Particular Charm of Miss Jane Austen:

When a time-travelling Jane Austen gets stuck in modern-day Bath it’s up to avid Janeite Rose Wallace to save her… because she’s the only one who knows that Jane exists!

Rose Wallace’s world revolves around all things Austen, and with the annual festival in Bath – and the arrival of dishy archaeologist, Dr Aiden Trevellyan – just around the corner, all is well with the world…

But then a mysterious woman who bears more than a passing resemblance to the great author moves in upstairs, and things take a disastrous turn. Rose’s new neighbour is Jane Austen, whose time travel adventure has been sabotaged by a mischievous dog, trapping her in the twenty-first century.

Rose’s life is instantly changed – new home, new job, new friends – but she’s the only one who seems to have noticed! To right the world around her, she will have to do whatever it takes to help Jane get back home to write Rose’s beloved novels. Because a world without Mr Darcy? It’s not worth living in!

Cass Grafton writes the sort of stories she loves to read–heart-warming, character driven and strong on location. Having moved around extensively and lived in three countries, she finds places inspiring, and the setting of her novels often becomes as much a part of the story as her characters.

She leans heavily towards the upbeat and insists on a happy ever after. As one of her favourite authors, Jane Austen, once wrote, ‘let other pens dwell on guilt and misery’.

Cass loves travelling, words, cats and wine but never in the same glass. She has two grown up children and currently splits her time between North Yorkshire, where she lives with her husband, and her imagination, where she lives with her characters.

You can find out more Cass and her books on her own website HERE and the one she shares with Ava Bright HERE, and on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Next month, we’re having writer A.J. Griffiths-Jones and her choice of books. 🙂 And look out for some fabulous sand sculpture photos next week!

Posted in books, Guest Posts, The Writing Life | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

The #WritingLife, and summer in Switzerland…

It hasn’t been one of those glorious sunshiney summers here in N.E. Switzerland. We’ve had good days, bad days and downright disgusting days. Our lake is very high, but thankfully we escaped the worst of the flooding other parts of Europe had.

I’ll do a scenic photo post another time, but for today, here’s a selection of daily life pics taken over the past couple of months:

I had a writerly lunch with Danielle Zinn a couple of weeks ago. She was passing through on her way back home to Germany, and we had a good catch-up. Last time we met was in London, and since then we’ve both had a couple more books published – so we exchanged our latest offerings:

Meanwhile, the roadwork/building site situation here is still ongoing, though (thankfully) the noise levels are more bearable now. Most days. The dreaded Saugbagger hasn’t been sighted for a while, and the collections of old pipes and new pipes are now unseen in their rightful places.

Amazon has been keeping me busy with book recommendations, too. I’ve read one of these. Guess which? (Clue: I’ve read it several hundred times and no, it’s not the Highway Code…)

Another writerly lunch, and this time we were luckier with the weather. Louise Mangos, Alison Baillie, Cass Grafton and I met in lovely Wil. It was our first meet-up since January 2020, and while it was wonderful, it was a sad occasion too as Cass returned to England for good just a week later, after seven years in Switzerland.

And of course, there were the obligatory walks in the woods and by the lake. I think the plastic tape on the lake bank is meant as a visual warning about the high water; it certainly wouldn’t have stopped you falling in.

Another thing still ongoing is the International Sand Sculpture Event, held yearly in nearby Rorschach. I’ve taken my ‘before’ and ‘during’ photos, and next week I’ll go back for a few of the final offerings. They’ll have a blog post to themselves in September, always supposing they’ve survived last night’s storm. Here’s the first winner of the event, immortalised in stone back in 1999, which was also the year of a near-total solar eclipse. Remember those eclipse specs?

Next week, we have Cass Grafton, now back in sunny England, and her choice of classic and comfort reads. And I’ll leave you with what has to be the neatest hole on the building site this summer…

Posted in Life in Switzerland, The Writing Life, travel | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Classic Comfort Reads… with Alison Morgan

The idea behind the Classic Comfort posts is that each featured writer chooses a favourite title from the classics – we’ll define ‘classic’ as pre-1940 – and a favourite comfort read, a book they always return to, for whatever reasons. As third book in each post, we’ll have one by the writer, usually their latest book. This week, we have writer A.B. Morgan, whose books are crime fiction, often with a touch of dark humour thrown in. Over to Alison:

Classic:

A passage from this book was set as English comprehension homework when I was about twelve years old. I was so hooked that I borrowed the book from the school library and read it with relish. Written in 1898, the book is set in 1750s England, in a coastal village set back on saltmarshes. This book has everything: a legend of a ghost, tales of smuggling, betrayal and loyalty, shipwrecks, and sacrifice.

When the main character, young John Trenchard, is trapped in the church crypt, he discovers the village’s smuggling exploits led by the local pub landlord. Ripping good yarn.

Comfort:

George Kranky creates his own special medicine from household items and feeds it to his revolting grandmother to cure her of her nastiness. ‘She had pale brown teeth and a small puckered up mouth like a dog’s bottom’. There is no stopping the laugh that follows when you read that line. Genius use of adjectives abound as Grandma is referred to as a ‘grizzly old grunion’. One of the very best read out loud books, ever! I’m never without a copy. When they were young, I read it to my children more times than I can count, and it now waits for grandchild No 1 to be old enough to appreciate it.

Thank you, Alison!

I’ve read several of Alison’s books now – they’re all very entertaining, not least of all her new series about private investigators Peddyr and Connie Quirk. By subscribing to Hobeck Books you can download a prequel novella, Old Dogs, Old Tricks, for a free taster of the series. Over Her Dead Body and Throttled were published last December and in June. Although it’s a series, the books can easily be read as standalones.

Here’s the blurb for Over her Dead Body, the first full-length book in the series:

Gabby Dixon is dead. That’s news to her…
Recently divorced and bereaved, Gabby Dixon is trying to start a new chapter in her life. As her new life begins, it ends. On paper at least.

But Gabby is still very much alive. As a woman who likes to be in control, this situation is deeply unsettling. She has two crucial questions: who would want her dead, and why?

Enter Peddyr and Connie Quirk, husband-and-wife private investigators. Gabby needs their help to find out who is behind her sudden death.

The truth is a lot more sinister than a simple case of stolen identity…

Alison Morgan is a member of the Crime Writers Association. She only took up writing full time 5 years ago when a heart condition ended her beloved nursing career prematurely. Writing, she says, saved her sanity.

Having spent thirty years in the National Health Service in the UK, gathering qualifications along the way, she specialised in psychiatry. As a registered Mental Health Nurse working in the community and specifically in First Episode Psychosis, she eventually became Clinical Nurse Manager for an innovative countywide service.

Retired from nursing, now she combines her wealth of career and life experiences by putting them into her plots, thus educating others about mental health issues through entertaining stories where more than a smattering of humour can also be found. Writing under the name A B Morgan, the first two books in the Quirk Files series have been published by Hobeck Books this year, making a total of eight British crime mysteries and psychological suspense novels to her name.

Find out more about Alison and her books on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and her website.

The blog will be on holiday for a couple of weeks while I’m tackling my edits – see you on the other side, and have a good summer! ☀

Posted in books, Guest Posts, The Writing Life | Tagged , , , , , | 4 Comments

Take a walk in Switzerland… #SilentSunday

Here are a few pics from last week’s walks here on the banks of Lake Constance, in N.E. Switzerland.

Next week, it’s Alison Morgan with her choice of Classic Comfort reads – see you then!

Posted in Life in Switzerland, travel | Tagged , , | 6 Comments

The ‘Z’ Books… #A-Z books

And here it is – the last post in my 26-part blog series, started on April 7th 2019 and continued – roughly – every month ever since. It’s an adaptation of something I saw on Twitter – people were posting 26 books in 26 days, each title beginning with a different letter of the alphabet. Each month I posted a newish book I’ve enjoyed, plus a children’s book and an older book.
So here we go, for the last time, and like ‘X’ and ‘Y’, ‘Z’ is slightly tricky. I decided when I started that I wouldn’t read books especially for the series. I wanted it to be my own personal A-Z, and reading books in order to include them here would make the whole thing artificial. So this week, one of the titles more or less begins with ‘Z’ while the other two have a ‘Z’ somewhere within.

The ‘Z’ books:

Today is Daniel Lizard’s twenty-first birthday and he has just completed his autobiography. Now, he plans on killing himself, leaving behind possibly the longest suicide note ever committed to paper.  
Daniel creates soap operas in his head – a game that he plays on his paper-round. Rather than a phase, this is just the beginning of a fantasy that becomes more and more elaborate as the people around Daniel become his unwitting co-stars.
Daniel begins to realise that, in life, you cannot write all of the scripts, there is no-one there to shout cut or hit rewind and, inevitably, all manipulations have their repercussions.

This was one of the first books I read after my debut novel was published – at that time, James Higgerson and I shared a publisher. It’s a fascinating book with a very different and oddly likeable main character.

The ultimate children’s classic – long summer days filled with adventure.

John, Susan, Titty and Roger sail their boat, Swallow, to a deserted island for a summer camping trip. Exploring and playing sailors is an adventure in itself but the island holds more excitement in store. Two fierce Amazon pirates, Nancy and Peggy, challenge them to war and a summer of battles and alliances ensues.

This is one of my all-time favourites, and one of the first books I remember being given as a birthday present when I was seven or eight. I’d already seen and loved the TV series, and I remember to this day how pleased I was when I opened the parcel from Aunt Pam – and there was the book.

“For many years I had wanted to start a zoo . . . any reasonable person smitten with an ambition of this sort would have secured the zoo first and obtained the animals afterwards. but throughout my life I have rarely if ever achieved what I wanted by tackling it in a logical fashion.”

A Zoo in My Luggage is Gerald Durrell’s account of his attempt to set up his own zoo, after years spent gathering animals for other zoos. Journeying to Cameroon, he and his wife collected numerous mammals, birds and reptiles, including Cholmondely the chimpanzee and Bug-eye the bush-baby.

But their problems really began when they attempted to return with their exotic menagerie. Not only had they to get them safely home to Britain but they also had to find somewhere able and – most of all – willing to house them.

Told with wit and a zest for all things furry and feathered, Gerald Durrell’s A Zoo in My Luggage is a brilliant account of how a pioneer of wildlife preservation came to found a new type of zoo.

The wonderful Gerald Durrell, and what better book to end the A-Z? One day I’d like to go to Jersey and visit his zoo there, but that’s another plan for another year.

Thank you all for reading the A-Z posts – it was a very self-indulgent series, but I really enjoyed doing it!

Posted in books, The Writing Life | Tagged , , , , | 2 Comments

Summer on the building site…

It’s the fourth of July – Happy Independence Day, if you’re celebrating today. Happy summer too, and here’s hoping we get one. Here in Switzerland, we’ve had bursts of heat followed by violent storms followed by days of drizzle… and so on. However, in a summer where it’s difficult to travel, I’m very glad to live in such a picturesque part of the world. The problem is that here in my flat, just a few minutes’ walk from Lake Constance, it’s less idyllic than down by the lake.

Living in the middle of three separate building projects has its downside. In a word, DUST. During the week, I take the Quentin Crisp approach (he maintained dust became no worse after the first four years), then have a bit of a clean up for the weekend. Usually. And almost as bad as the dust is the NOISE. Bang bang drone drone RUMBLE from dawn to dusk. Project 1 (the street renovation and main dust producer) is scheduled to finish in August. Project 2 (newbuild and main noise producer) is scheduled to finish this century. Project 3 (erection of storage unit) produces (in comparison) little noise and so far little dust, so they’re my favourites by quite a long way.

All we can do is grin and bear it (who am I kidding, we moan about it non-stop). But this week, I had three lovely pieces of book news to distract me:

  1. The paperback version of Baby Dear, which at the moment is re-released on kindle only, is almost ready – I’m hoping it’ll be out next month sometime. Tax and/or custom restrictions mean it’s impossible to have physical proof copies sent from Amazon to Switzerland, which in turn means my Amazon proofs have to go the long way via my family in the UK. (Thanks here to my brother for the proof-checking skills he didn’t know he had until The Runaway came out.) 🙂

2. A few weeks ago I was invited to record a podcast with the ladies at Book Lover’s Companion in Vienna – we didn’t record in Vienna, unfortunately, though by leaning over to my right I could see Austria from my chair here at home while we were doing the interview. And one day I’ll go back to Vienna; it’s such a lovely city. The podcast is out tomorrow, 5th July, and you can listen to it HERE. And you can listen to a two-minute taster on my Facebook Author Page HERE.

3. Last but definitely not least, Daria’s Daughter is going to be an audiobook – Hobeck Books sent me a short extract from the recording yesterday. It’s being narrated by Lianne Walker, a Scottish audiobook narrator/producer, and it’s going to be fabulous.

Next week – I can hardly believe it, but next week is the ‘Z’ books on the blog. The end of the alphabet and the end of my long-running series. I’ll miss it.

For now, though, it’s Sunday, the builders aren’t here and we can hear the birds sing. I’ll leave you with some lovely peaceful summer in Switzerland photos.

Posted in books, Life in Switzerland, My books, The Writing Life, travel | Tagged , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Classic Comfort Reads… with Sharon Booth

The idea behind the Classic Comfort posts is that each featured writer chooses a favourite title from the classics – we’ll define ‘classic’ as pre-1940 – and a favourite comfort read, a book they always return to, for whatever reasons. As third book in each post, we’ll have one by the writer, usually their latest book. This week, we have romance writer Sharon Booth, who I first ‘met’ on Facebook in – I think – 2013, when we were both writing a short story for the charity anthology Winter Tales.
Over to Sharon:

Classic:

I watched an adaptation of this novel in my late teens and thought Jane an insipid weakling. A few years later, a good friend of mine begged me to forget the television series and films and read the actual book. After much persuasion I finally gave in. I was hooked. The story and the setting are fantastic, and I’m a great admirer of Mr Rochester (!) but it’s Jane who really delights and amazes me. She has such a strong sense of social justice, and I love how she knows her own worth, no matter how badly she’s treated by those around her. When I read, “I care for myself. The more solitary, the more friendless, the more unsustained I am, the more I will respect myself” I honestly get the shivers. Jane knows who she is, and she doesn’t lose sight of that, no matter how great the hardship or the temptation. I absolutely love her, and she has my total admiration.   

Comfort:

Any of the Adrian Mole books would do. I just love them. They’re full of humour, but there’s such pathos in them, too. Laughing at Adrian’s misfortunes one minute, in the next I might shed a tear over his sense of hopelessness or feel angry as he and his mother wait for the mythical giro, and Adrian frets that they’re about to starve to death.

It’s a great social commentary on life at that time, and hits pretty close to home for many contemporary readers, sadly. Who would have believed that a diary of a spotty, angst-ridden teenage boy would be so gripping? Adrian is the product of genius, and I recognise and understand his world and the people in it. I will never get tired of reading about Moley and his family.

Sharon has written several series of romantic novels. I’ve read several and they’re all lovely feel-good reads. The latest is The Whole of the Moon, published at the end of May. It’s number four in the Kearton Bay series, which begins with There Must be An Angel.

When Harry Jarvis arrives in Kearton Bay on the evening of the Samhain ceremony at The Hare and Moon Inn, his sole intention is to rebuild his relationship with daughter Amy and start afresh. But Amy isn’t the little girl he left behind, and she’s not going to let him off the hook that easily. With two ex-wives to placate, a failing career, a tumbledown property to renovate, and a terrible reputation to live down, Harry’s about to find that making a fresh start in Kearton Bay won’t be as easy as he’d hoped.

Rhiannon Bone understands what it feels like to be estranged from a child, since her son left Kearton Bay nearly four years ago, leaving their relationship in tatters. When he returns for a special event, she hopes they can put the past behind them, but is Derry ready to forgive and forget?

For both Rhiannon and Harry, the mistakes they made in the past are still making ripples in the present. But as secrets are revealed and life-changing decisions are made, they begin to realise that it’s not just other people’s forgiveness they need.

If they’re to have any sort of future, they must first forgive themselves…

Thank you, Sharon! I love Adrian Mole and Jane Eyre too!

Sharon Booth writes uplifting fiction with a touch of magic. Happy endings are guaranteed for her main characters, though she likes to make them work for it.
Sharon is a member of the Society of Authors, the Romantic Novelists’ Association, and an Authorpreneur member of the Alliance of Independent Authors.
She loves Doctor Who, Cary Grant movies, hares, and horses – not necessarily in that order.
Sharon grew up in the East Riding of Yorkshire, and the Yorkshire coast and countryside feature strongly in her novels.

Her stories are set in pretty villages and quirky market towns, by the sea or in the countryside, and feature lots of humour, romance, and friendship. If you love gorgeous, kind heroes, and heroines who have far more important things on their minds than buying shoes, you’ll love her books.

For links to social media and Sharon’s website visit: https://linktr.ee/sharonboothwriter
where you can also subscribe to her newsletter and get a FREE novella.

Next month, we’re having crime writer AB Morgan with her choice of books. 🙂


Posted in books, Guest Posts | Tagged , , , , , | 2 Comments

Writing conversation during a pandemic…

‘Make your conversation real’, is one piece of general advice when you’re writing a book. ‘Don’t use conversation to dump information’ is another, and that one’s easy enough. Don’t write things like: ‘Do you remember how we visited your ninety-year-old but very robust grandmother yesterday, in the gorgeous new villa in Kent she bought last July for over a million pounds?’ asked Jemima.
There are better ways of letting the reader know the relevant details about Grandma.

But – ‘real’ conversation?? When I consider some of the conversations I’ve had with my family and friends over the past year and a half, I don’t even know what ‘real’ is any more. Even the everyday stuff has taken on a surreal hue, and more puzzling, what is ‘real’ today might not be ‘real’ tomorrow…

A few examples:

Son 2, on his way to the station (and probably late): ‘Can I have one of your face masks? Where are the face masks?’
(The new reality is that you read that and knew why he needed a face mask to go to the station.)

Me, on a rare occasion when both my children were visiting at the same time: ‘Why is the hand sanitiser on the hall floor?’ (You don’t need to know the answer. Welcome to today’s world.)

Son 1, on arriving for a visit, flapping his arms while speaking: ‘Socially-distanced hug!’
The answer to this is always: (flapping arms) ‘Socially distanced hug right back and did you do a lateral flow test before you came?’
(He comes into contact with a large number of people at work. In a week or two, though, we’ll both be double-jabbed, so this is – thankfully – another piece of changing reality.)

Friend: ‘It’s lovely weather, let’s go out for lunch.’
Me: ‘To a restaurant?!?’
Friend: ‘Of course not, what do you think!!?’
(This one changes as restrictions ebb and flow. Sometimes it’s hard to remember what’s open and what’s not – and what’s safe and what’s not is a different reality to different people, too.)

Friend, eating an ice cream on a socially-distanced walk: ‘This is lovely, but you won’t want to try some.’
(Well, no, I wouldn’t, not these days. Not yet.)

What’s happening in real life makes me glad to be a writer. For a few hours every day, I can ignore this parallel universe we’ve landed in, and go back to the good old days when we didn’t have to worry about friends and relatives catching Covid, when social distancing didn’t exist and hand sanitiser on your hallway table wasn’t a thing. Maybe that’s why I’m writing feel-good fiction for now, and not psych. suspense. Maybe one day, enough time will have passed to allow us to look back objectively and make sense of it all – though not everyone has enough years left to do that. And no, you won’t be reading about this pandemic in any of my books. Fiction is definitely better than fact at the moment.

Posted in Life in Switzerland, The Writing Life | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment