Thomas Hardy's cottage (shame about the scaffolding)
Thomas Hardy (2 June 1840 – 11 January 1928) was an English novelist and poet. A Victorian realist in the tradition of George Eliot, he was influenced both in his novels and in his poetry by Romanticism. His best-known novels are Far from the Madding Crowd (1874), The Mayor of Casterbridge (1886), Tess of the d'Urbervilles (1891), and Jude the Obscure. (Wikipedia)
Recently, I spent a few days in Dorset, the county that influenced much of Hardy’s work, and visited the cottage where he was born and from where he wrote Far from the Madding Crowd. A walk of about half a mile, through undulating woodland, leads to his house. Once close to it, the wood open’s up to reveal a small thatched cottage and a beautiful English country garden: Hardy’s birthplace and home for thirty-three years. Thanks to the National Trust, it has been kept much as it was–small rooms, flagstone floors (set down by Hardy’s father, a stone mason), tiny windows, oak beams, and hand made wooden furniture: an oasis of peace and tranquility.
Writers write in different ways. Some can write anywhere, and are not distracted by anything. JK Rowling, for example, said she wrote parts of the first book in the Harry Potter series on a bus, going to work. Others writers, like Hardy, need tranquility, and an absence of any distraction. Ali Smith, who wrote How to Be Both–which won of the Costa Prize and the Bailey Prize, writes in her loft.
For me, tranquility is an absolute necessity, and this autumn, once the renovations are finished, I’m moving into a Gothic style shed at the bottom of our garden. I’ll have complete peace, no distractions–apart from the sound of running water from the nearby pond–and total tranquility.
Kate Fisher wants to move on from grief. Her five-year-old daughter died from bone cancer and she split with her uncaring husband. When she meets with Mark Roberts, suffering his own emotional turmoil after parting with his lover and the death of her son in a house fire, she believes she’s found the perfect person to help her forget her past, and him forget his. They fall in love, and she becomes pregnant. Her baby comes early-but so too does a grievous shock that tears to the roots of her raw emotions and threatens the safety of her one surviving daughter.
Available later this year.
Harry Fingle stories
The first story.
Giant international corporations hire hitmen. The CIA and MI6 sanction immoral and illegal skulduggery. People die. Harry Fingle–an investigative journalist, searching for his brother’s killer–is appalled, and tries to publish his findings. He’s gagged, an assassin is briefed, and his ex-lover is stabbed.
Harry’s a pawn in a real-life game of chess played out by the security services.
The second story.
The wrong man is murdered in a café in Istanbul. A feared Russian assassin is mortified and vows to right his mistake. Harry Fingle’s lover becomes over-inquisitive, and his spy-friend tells him to watch out.
Tension mounts. The Russians hire a Serbian hitman as a back-up executioner and Harry begins to question his trusted spy-friend’s loyalties.
The final story
Murderers walk free from court, juries are nobbled, spooks leak secrets, police fix investigations, prisoners escape, and the media stay silent. Zero One is dominant. One man controls it.
A lingering love affair, Harry Fingle’s discovery of the name of Zero One’s chief, and the breakout from jail of Harry’s nemesis–the feared Russian assassin Grigoriy Nabutov–make for a tense and emotional conclusion to the trilogy.
Harry Fingle box set
Playing Harry, Assasination Continuum, Zero One in one three-book box set.
Selected chapters from the three books in The Harry Fingle Collection–Playing Harry, Assassination Continuum, and Zero One–plus the The Harry Fingle Collection-trailer in full.
Three complete books in the Originals series.