Welcome to another calendar year on 'Do You Write Under Your Own Name?' I'm looking forward to the year and personal writing highlights are likely to include publication of Sepulchre Street (with another great piece of cover artwork from Ed Bettison), which is the fourth Rachel Savernake novel, and a British Library anthology of classic Welsh crime stories, together with the first appearance of some new short stories.
This month is mainly to be devoted to writing, but I've got plenty of events lined up at a variety of festivals and libraries. I hope to meet some of you at one or other of these events, including Alibis in the Archive, which will take place at Gladstone's Library in June - do consider coming along for the weekend. It will be great fun.
Although 2022 was a wonderful year for me, a number of great friends of mine experienced significant health problems, with cancer a recurrent theme. They are making very good progress and I'm hoping that this year sees them restored to full health. One sadness last year was that, in addition to my crime writing pal Peter Robinson, I lost an old friend in Alan Rawlinson, whom I met on my first day at grammar school.and, as I learned just a few days ago, Sue Bell, whom I met during my first week at Oxford. I've been asked to write a short reminiscence about Sue for her college's magazine and I'm working on that now.
Sue was an English student who shortly after Oxford married an American and went to live in the States, so although our friendship continued I only met up with her once in recent years. I have many fond memories of her. The upper photo shows us together at a champagne party when we were both 20. By one of those truly bizarre coincidences, this is the photo I supplied when the University Challenge producer asked me for a photo from my student days. The lower photo shows us on what proved, alas, to be our very last encounter.
On looking again at her very witty and lengthy letters, I see that at the same tender age she was encouraging me in my ambition to become a writer. As she said, perhaps wryly, 'You certainly seem to have plenty of ideas and imagination and at least a certain amount of confidence in your own ability.' She was amused when, seven years later, my first book proved to be a legal tome! I never imagined how lucky I'd get to be with my writing and I bet Sue didn't either, but I treasure the good times we had together and I'll never forget her warmth and wonderful sense of humour.