Is it Friday already?

Apparently I’m not alone in struggling to remember what day it is. This has been a strange few weeks, hasn’t it? Obviously, as I sit at home and write most days, it’s made a lot less difference to me than to most people. Even so, it’s been rather weird. My beloved, who has been frantically busy the past few months, is still working, but from home. It’s strange having somebody else in the house all the time, but quite nice. Outside the wider world seems so dislocated from its normal self that is difficult to connect to things. I had expected to see a massive increase in the amount of activity online, but I find both Facebook and Twitter oddly quiet. I guess most of us feel we have nothing to talk about except the virus, and we really don’t want to talk about that more than we have to. Instead I’m spending more time on e-mails and messaging and much more time on the phone. My son, who is of a generation that will always rather text than make a phone call, says he has been rediscovering telephone calls and talking to friends he hasn’t actually had a conversation with in ages. We all reach out in the ways we can, I guess.

It seems to have affected the way people read as well. Readership of my blog is down. (I hope you’ll forgive this light-weight post because it seems a bad week to write anything heavy that I suspect people won’t read.) I’m hoping to see some increase in the sales of my books, though. Or, at the very least, an increase in the readership of Dark Magic on Kindle Unlimited. (It’s the only one of my books on Kindle Unlimited, so if you are a member you can read this one for free.)

Somebody on Twitter asked if people were changing the sort of books they read. Were they using the opportunity to catch up on really heavy things?

It made me think about my reading recently. One nice thing is that I’ve been doing rather more of it. Unable to go out dancing or skating (which between them would usually account for about four afternoons/evenings a week) I’ve definitely been reading a bit more. The things I’ve read have been either the literary equivalent of comfort food, or heavy books I’ve been putting off.

I finished Riflemen, which was a Christmas present. It’s a history of the 5th Battalion of the 60th (Royal American) Regiment, who were active in the Peninsular War. It’s an absolutely brilliant book (my review is here: but it’s not what you’d call an easy read. It was lovely to have the time to sit down and finish it. I also finished a short book of Lt Thomas Blomfield’s letters to his family from the battlefields of the Peninsula. The letters are fun to read, combining family gossip (“Give my love to Louisa and tell her I hope she is a good housekeeper”) and accounts of the horror of events like the sacking of Badajoz (“The town was given up to plunder for 24 hours and such a scene I never before saw.”) Even the bowdlerised accounts of some of the war, designed for reading by his family, are horrific. It’s a fantastic read for anyone interested though.

I’ve also been reading about police procedures for another contemporary novel I’m working on and I’m starting on Carol McGrath’s latest, The Silken Rose. It’s based on the life of the 13th century Ailenor of Provence which is rather outside my comfort zone, but Carol is a great writer, so I’m expecting to enjoy it.

At the other extreme, I’ve been indulging my not-so-secret vices: chick lit (Sophie Kinsella’s Sleeping Arrangements) and thrillers like Lee Child’s brilliant Reacher series and even the odd graphic novel (which is the posh name for comic books). Writers aren’t supposed to admit to that sort of reading, but it’s great – and it’s particularly great at a time like this.

I’m very lucky in being able to dance tango at home and we’ve started to video our efforts so we can identify the bits that need improvement. It turns out there are a lot of them, so we won’t be bored.

All in all, we’re lucky. The virus passed over without doing any significant damage, though my beloved has lost her sense of smell, which is more upsetting than you’d think. I’m honestly not sure if I’ve had it or not, though being in the same house gives that day of feeling a bit unwell a whole new significance. Every time I coughed we got nervous. We know people who have been really sick, so we appreciate how lucky we are.

Stay at home. Stay safe. Let me know how you’re spending your time.

Good luck.

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