Back in the day, when albums were only 40 minutes long and came on vinyl in fold-out cardboard sleeves (cue brief pause for nostalgic reminiscence among the over-40s), people used to talk about That Difficult Third Album. That was the one a band had to make when it had run out of all its original material, was burned out from being on the road and had to deliver No.3 to satisfy the record company, usually within about 18 months of their debut. Then CDs came along and albums were about 70 minutes long and record companies worked the same album for a couple of years and now bands started talking about That Difficult Second Album. Well, I've got That Difficult Second Novel syndrome. My first was about 125,000 words long, exactly twice as much as Fleming wrote in Casino Royale and probably has two or three times as many big set-piece scenes as a thriller from the 60s or 70s ... which would apply to all of us, of course. That's what the audience expects these days. Okay so now - as in, starting Monday morning - I've got to begin writing No.2 and I've got a fair number of ideas, but what I don't have is the energy and desperation and hunger that powered me through the Accident Man. So, to all those folks out there who can manage a book a year (or six books in at least one case I can think of!) .. how do you guys do it? If you're working with the same characters, how do you get back into them and recapture your affection for them, when you've been away from them for months? Tomorrow I get on a plane to France, where a friend is lending me a villa, for free, on the Cote d'Azur - yeah, I know, it's a tough billet, but someone's got to stay there. But then ... Monday at 9.00 sharp, I sit down at the word-processor. He-e-e-e-l-l-l-p-p-p!!!