“You want to see her again.” It is normal as a man to hear that from friends and relatives about some former girlfriend. (And women, I’m sure, hear the same about certain ex-boyfriends.) Regardless of how many times you reply by declaring “No, I don’t,” you may still have it tossed at you over and over.

It may get on your nerves. Or you may just laugh. But it is *lots* more uncomfortable – to say the least – and irritating if your wife says it…

[Cognac, bought at a French supermarket last week. Photo by me.]

…to the point sometimes I find I may need a drink.πŸ˜‚

I hear it from her especially whenever we go over to France; but she is just kidding me. However, that is what may happen to you as a writer. It has been a major reason I’ve never been keen on my family and my friends reading my books.

For readers who don’t know you, as a writer you need merely to write a page-turning good tale. However, when it comes to those you know, there may be a need to explain yourself: friends and family may be full of questions about where you got much of it…

[Excerpt from Passports, on Kindle for iPad/iPhone. Click to expand.]

…and worst of all is someone you know also seeing something they DO NOT find funny or flattering and are sure it is about THEM – and it may well be.

I was just having a click moments ago around on Amazon. I found one of my uncle’s books and I had a read of some of the “free sample.” To see it again was as if he is still living: he is still very much alive in his books and I suppose he always will be.

The fifth anniversary of the publication of my own first novel, Passports, is approaching. (It appeared in November 2013.) When I was writing it during 2012-13, I had thought it would be a one-and-done effort: I would write it “just to get this writing thing out of my system”… and to prove to myself I could write a book like my uncle did. I figured after it was published I would pretty much disappear without a trace after maybe “six” or so people read it. But post-publication I began to notice many more were reading it than I had reasonably hoped. I felt I also had more to write about that was also worth reading, so I decided to write a sequel, Frontiers, and after that another, Distances.

By 2016, I felt confident enough to decide to attack a career goal. I had been a university lecturer in history and politics, and for longer than I could remember I had dreamed of writing a fictional romantic “extravaganza” that was also historically accurate – to make reading history fun and exciting for a non-historian. That became Conventions: The Garden At Paris in 2017, and, thankfully, readers seem to like that novel, too. And that encouraged me to write what I am now: its follow up: Tomorrow The Grace.

But the plot for Conventions did not appear like a bolt from the blue without a backstory and past of its own. An aspect of the history had intrigued me since I had been a university student, and those closest to me had known that. While I was writing Distances, and still unsure if I would ever actually get around to writing a novel built around that interest, I slipped in a reference to it based on an old conversation:

[Excerpt from Distances, on Kindle for iPad/iPhone. Click to expand.]

Whatever else I do or write, those first three novels will always mean so much to me. They are where I began. You would not be here if it weren’t for them.

I decided recently that because it is now five years since Passports, and I wanted to “mark” it in some way, to do what I had not done: to gather the three books into a single paperback.

I hope it will be out within weeks: the entire story will be in one place, from start to finish:

[The Three Novels in One Volume. Paperback only.]

There may be a fourth installment someday. Or there may not be. Who knows? πŸ˜‰

Given it is easy (and inexpensive) to download the three e-book versions separately, there won’t be a similar Kindle compilation. But of course not everyone has a Kindle. And I know there are readers who enjoy big books on their lap in bed or while reclining in a beach chair. πŸ™‚

My uncle died in 2015 before he could see Distances. But he had read Passports and Frontiers and told me that he LIKED them – which meant more to me than I can possibly put into words. And he did not even mind that I had broadly fictionalized him – and not entirely flatteringly at times either… because, he also told me, that’s what writers do.

Have a good Monday, wherever you are. πŸ™‚