Happy 1st of June. And we didn’t meet them halfway. We went to them. Yesterday, we drove to Christchurch (about an hour and a half away) to visit with a former neighbor couple there.
In a sense, it felt like “going home.” The town is much the same. And the house we’d owned for a decade until 2013 – well, there it stood. (They aren’t huge fans of the people who’ve bought it. We’ve never laid eyes on them and still haven’t.)
The husband (he’s about my father’s age) and I were alone at one point and chatting. He told me they were in Tenerife, in their flat (in the end, they didn’t sell it), and his Mrs. was sitting in the lounge reading Frontiers. “Across the room,” he said to me, “I hear this laugh, and she looks at me, points out a page, and says, ‘What did he do?! That’s me! The so and so! Darling, he’s written about us!'”
Beyond my borrowing he and his wife’s personas to underpin “Mr. and Mrs. Hall-Surrey,” we discussed my books generally. He’s a retired engineer and has the sort of exacting mind you’d expect. Everything in their house is perfect. It’s almost annoying how talented he is in doing DIY.
He apologized that he’s never really been a fiction reader. (I told him there was no need to; that everyone has their tastes.) However, he has read bits of my novels at the behest of “Mrs. Hall-Surrey” (including, unsurprisingly, where they had been fictionalized). While we talked, he asked, “How do you keep track of everything that happens?”
I told him it is quite a challenge especially given it is fiction that is placed in historical settings in real time, so I can’t just float around in creative la-la land. “It’s not unlike engineering,” I said. “You need to stay clearly focused to the smallest degree.” I added that everyone important portrayed being sourced from real people helps a lot as a guide. I also joked that I can’t just conjure up a vampire or two to get myself out of any unplanned plot trouble.
During dinner, “Mrs. Hall-Surrey” told me what I didn’t yet know. She said she’d ordered Frontiers from Bookends on the Christchurch high street and made a big production in collecting it at the counter and buying it. (Emulating how she’d bought Passports in the same bookstore a year and a half ago). She tried to encourage them to stock both my books – which was very sweet of her.
She suggested (and she has written a published children’s book) that when I finish the third volume, that they could also all be packaged together as a set. I like that approach. I hadn’t thought of that before.
She also explained she had been considering mentioning the books to her (21 year old Bath University) grandson. But she became less sure she wanted to as she read Frontiers. “Uh, I’ve decided not to for now,” she smiled.
I smiled in return from across the table: “My ‘miscreant’ youth is all over them.”
Have a good Monday, wherever you are in the world. 🙂
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Before I forget:
If you want, stop by, say “Hello,” and “like” my brand new Facebook page.
Gosh, how strange it feels writing that. 😉