Anyone who's been reading my work for the last couple of years will probably have realised by now that I don't write very quickly. In fact, I generally reckon that 500 words per day is a fairly good rate of progress - especially when you consider that I very often get caught up in quite detailed research, and that tends to take quite a lot of time. (When I was writing MAKE DO AND MEND, for example, I had a delightful couple of hours' diversion to work out how Kitty could possibly have made her own pickling vinegar. It wasn't used in the book at all, but I had to satisfy myself that it could actually be done.)
This being the case, therefore, you'll realise that having to write quickly doesn't really suit me. However when Manifold Press suffered a mini-crisis and ended up looking to me to bring BETWEEN NOW AND THEN forward three months - it had originally been intended to publish it on 1 May - I had a moment of panic and then settled down to do some very quick calculations. I had roughly half a book already; could I possibly write the other half in time? The answer is, it seems, yes. Writing quickly is not my idea of fun but it is, it seems, quite feasible in an emergency!
BETWEEN NOW AND THEN is the story of Dennis and Allan, two colleagues who work together at a Yorkshire hospital. They - and four of their workmates - are on the way home from watching a football match in Poland in late 1991 when their journey unexpectedly takes them through a former battlefield in Belgium, and a very strange sequence of events begins to unfold. It makes them question a lot of things that they thought they knew for sure, like the nature of time and whether or not there is life after death - and if, despite all evidence to the contrary, they might actually end up liking one another.
I've been very lucky to have had the entire editorial resources of Manifold Press diverted in my direction; everyone has been incredibly helpful and supportive, and I've had more kind offers of help than I really knew what to do with. I was also lucky that there was nothing in my schedule for this part of the year that couldn't be postponed; I was intending to devote it all to writing, anyway - just not at quite this pace. Anyway, the worst is over now; I'm just putting the finishing touches to the book - which is why I've got enough free time to write this! - and then it's up to Manifold to put it all together in time for publication on 1 February.
But oh, please, dear Manifold Press, no more emergencies! I'm more of marathon runner than a sprinter - and when I say 'runner', I mean it more in the sense of this man, with whom I feel I have a very great deal (at least 130 lbs) in common!