This has been a memorable year so far by any standard. Who knows what the next three months will deliver?

At the end of 2019 I thought I was seeing one of the most difficult years end, and it was a tough one. We relocated from Germany to Northumberland, a process that took thirteen months from start to finish, and that’s not including time spent searching for where we wanted to live, and then finding a suitable property. Not everything went smoothly with the sale, but after much a todo we did get here.

In March of that year I was diagnosed with cancer, and as we still had both houses I was alone much of the time in Northumberland while my wife took care of things in Germany. In one way being alone was easier, as rather than let it consume my thoughts, I endured the surgery/chemo/radio, turned up the music and continued with the renovations of our newly acquired Georgian barn.

So, as 2020 entered we were looking ahead to a great new year, one filled with enjoying our new home, catching up with family, and discovering the abundant natural delight the Borders has to offer. Then Covid-19 came along.

If I’d been asked a couple of years ago what I’d do during a pandemic induced lockdown, the answer would have been simple — ‘reading and writing’. However, the reality has been different, and having spoken with a number of other writers, their story is the same. If I had to summarise the reason in one word it would be ‘unsettled‘.

I’ve not been reading contemporary crime fiction for a while, but have enjoyed reading or re-reading some of the oldies such as Dashiell Hammett and Raymond Chandler. I’ve just finished The Maltese Falcon and consider it one of the best books I’ve read, and as readable and relevant as it was when it was published 91 years ago.

There are two manuscripts I’m working on, albeit slowly; a speculative piece set in the UK in 2060, and a sequel to Being Tommy Boronovski.

The sequel opens with Tommy where we left him at the end of book one, overlooking the Mediterranean with only his regrets for company. I’d guess the book is about half written — it’s hard to know at this stage — and already he’s in trouble. Same reason as before – fast women. I’d like to finish this one early 2021, but no promises.

Wherever you are in the world, whatever your beliefs, and political affiliations, I hope you and your loved ones stay clear of Covid-19 and have a much better 2021.

I’ll leave you with one of my renovation songs, ‘I Know What to Do.’ a live recording by Australian violinist Xani Kolac – 

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Author: A.J.

I have written as far back as I can recall. Until 2011, that writing was just for me, or as rambling letters to friends and travelogues to the family. I never thought about why, or if others did similarly, and the thought of publishing never entered my head. Since I left England in 1979, I have been collecting experiences, people, and places. From the blood-soaked streets of Kampala, the polluted dust bowls of the Sahara, or the pristine ice floes of the Antarctic, I have gathered and filed them away. Some have recently squeezed through the bars of insecurity and are now at large in the pages of my first three novels. Others await their future fates.

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