Michael Jecks is one of our leading writers of the history mystery, although he has also occasionally ventured into the field of contemporary crime. His new book is Rebellion's Message, set in the reign of Bloody Mary Tudor and published by Severn House. I have just received my copy, but as I'm rather behind with my reading, I haven't started it yet. In the meantime, I asked Mike - a former Chair of the CWA, and newly appointed as Secretary of the Detection Club, if he'd like to contribute a guest post to this blog. Here is his account of his misadventures when starting his new series:
"It's always difficult to embark on a new novel, but the problems multiply when you are writing a new series. Usually the problems lie in things like, say, inventing a new character, researching a new period, or perhaps trying to find the right location for your action.
Not for me any of those trivial issues. Fate has always had it in for me. It’s the reason I had thirteen jobs in thirteen years before I felt forced to try my hand at writing. Last year, when I set out to write a new series, Fate sought to give me a whole different level of pain. Initially, as I was setting out my plans, fate had a test-disaster for me. My laptop didn’t work.
Not a problem. I did the usual things, turned it off, turned it on, lifted and shut the lid, inspected it carefully - only to discover a few drops of water seeping out. Water? That was the point that a fifteen-year-old daughter became embarrassed and explained that she thought she’d cleaned up the spillage. Dead laptop.
An insurance claim later, I was happily working at my desktop machine when I saw a glitch. It was minor, but what the heck? I had a backup disk drive. There was nothing that could give me any problems. So I recovered my main disk from the backup, only to learn too late that the backup was itself corrupted. It wiped my whole computer. Fortunately I use Dropbox, lots of DVDs and the cloud. Sadly, many DVDs had aged badly, and the cloud wasn’t as efficient as I’d hoped. I lost three weeks recovering things.
At last, all was well. I returned to my new series, to discover that the screen was showing pink Chinese characters. Ho ho, I thought. Then I learned that the screen was dead, and on a “vintage” machine like mine (five years old) it was unmendable. My machine was dead.
Does anybody wonder why I am writing my next book with a pen and ink?"