Well, Jeffrey, you were crazy enough to ask. So ... Just over two weeks ago, I headed off to what was supposed to be a writer's paradise in the South of France, just north of Nice ... a beautiful villa, with a pool, for free. How much better could it get? But you know what they say about the non-existence of free lunches? Well, there was just one catch ... the builders had not actually left the property. So they were banging, crashing, drilling, cutting tiles - bedlam! And tho' there was a pool, it was about to be drained so that a cover could be fitted. And the weather - in June, on the Cote d'Azur for ****'s sake - was lousy, worse than back home in cold, wet England. Plus - and this is entirely down to me - I realised that I didn't have the mental fortitude required for a fortnight of (semi) solitude. I love being in a hotel for a few nights by myself, with a gym and room service to entertain me between frenzied writing bours (this is my way of getting kick-stared if blocked, BTW), but there's something about an empty house at night, in a foreign land, with builder's gear and dust/wet paint/bare walls everywhere that's just bloody depressing. So I gave up after five nights and came home. BUT ... I had got started while I was out there. Just a few thousand words, but there was something on the system. Also, I checked out a few locations I'll use in the story. So it actually worked out fine. I went home and cranked it up again last week and now I'm up to about 17,000 words and cruising along OK. The opening sequiences are a little slow, I think, but they can be spiced up in the edit. (I like to write like a movie-director shoots: get it all in the can, much more than I'll actually need, then fix the damn thing in post). I know how the main emotional arcs are going to play out over the whole story. I've got the first third pretty well plotted-out in terms of action (though I'll want to weave in a few extra sub-plots, red herrings and yension-heighteners that I haven't yet thought of). I have an idea for the final action sequence, if only I can think of a way to get to, and then justify the outrageous image I have in my head ... and then there's a final twist that should wrench a few readers' guts. So basically, it's just 100,000 words, several re-writes, a brutal editing process and countless crises of confidence to go. And the whole damn thing has to be finished, publisher-ready, by December 31. Hope that answers the question!

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