I’m never quite sure which posts I write are going to attract a lot of interest and which are going to be passed over. Lately, I’ve been writing a lot about India and while my mini essay on the Red Fort got a fair amount of attention, others were less popular. I do post occasionally on the joys, or otherwise, of writing. Again, some of these grab attention (at least by my standards) and some don’t. I think this week might be a good time to write about writing, though. Let’s hope you enjoy it.

Like, I imagine, almost all writers, it’s important to me that people read my books. Books are much more likely to be read if they are part of a series and if people can remember the last one you wrote, so there is pressure to turn out the next one.

I write two book series: Galbraith & Pole, which is Urban Fantasy, and James Burke, which is about the adventures of a British spy in Napoleonic times. I really enjoy writing Galbraith & Pole but, with just three books published, that series is yet to establish itself while the seven James Burke books, though hardly bestsellers, have a growing readership. The last book I published, Monsters in the Mist, was a Galbraith & Pole novel, so I really need to get on and write something about James Burke. The problem is finding a historical incident to write the next book around.

The first six James Burke books

Someone on Twitter has been suggesting for a while that I should send Burke to North America to fight in the War of 1812, so I am now busy reading about that conflict. It’s a scrappy little war, much beloved of re-enactors, partly, I think, because many of the battles were quite small and can be re-fought with the sorts of numbers that a re-enactor regiment may well be able to put into the field. I’m learning about native American tribes, and US militia regiments, and desperate fights in tiny long-lost villages (many now buried under 20th century cities). It’s a new world to me and I’m worried that I may make some terrible historical errors, but I am beginning to feel the outlines of a plot. It’s early days and I may yet fail to pull it together. If I can’t, then at least I’ll have learned a lot about a fairly pointless war, best known in this country because of the British burning down the White House. The Americans love talking about it because it is one of their founding myths and they just gloss over the fact that they didn’t achieve any of their war aims. They did beat the British at New Orleans though, although unbeknownst to both sides, the war was over by then.

Fingers crossed that I can find a story that can make some sort of sense out of so many fascinating but disparate incidents. I warn you now that it might be some time. Meanwhile can I recommend that you try out Galbraith & Pole? Or the Williamson Papers, which (being just a trilogy) will never benefit from the series effect. (I wrote about them last week and it would be lovely if you read them.)

Back to 1812 and the Canadian snows. Enjoy your week.


The picture at the top of the post shows British, Canadian and Mohawk fighters in action at the Battle of Chateauguay in 1813 (by Henri Julien, 1852 – 1908).

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