Newsletter January 2009

Pastoral scene with horses in the freezing air

Pastoral scene with horses in the freezing air.

It seems a little cheeky to be writing so soon after the last emailed newsletter, but it's one of those times when there's sufficient reason to force me to set aside the copyedit of book 27, No Law in the Land, and dash off a quick note.

The thing is, I have been asked to visit a library near Phoenix, Arizona in early June. I've got to be at the Historical Novel Society annual conference on 14th June, and fitting in the library talk in the week before seemed like a good idea. So there's two hits: if anyone is around Chicago on 14th June, you can come and hear me talk on a panel. If not, and if you live near Phoenix or Scottsdale, you may be able to meet me at either the library event (it is in Maricopa County - more details as I get them) or at Scottsdale, where I am hoping to be on the Thursday before the HNS events.

Three of the stones in the Scorhill Circle.

Three of the stones in the Scorhill Circle.

It is also perfectly feasible for me to meet for talks elsewhere - so if you know of a reading group, library or school who may like me to visit, feel free to contact them and find out if they would like a weird historical author-type to turn up, and if so, do they have any budget. Much though I'd like to be travelling at my publisher's expense, they have not come up with a budget, so I'm afraid that I'll be forced to pay my own way on this one.


That's the main business out of the way. Now to a little more interesting stuff.

The moors are cold. Couple of nights ago we hit minus 8° Centigrade for the very first time. I've never seen it that cold before. When I went up for a walk, even the fairly fast streams like the Upper Teign were frozen solid in places. There was a firm crust over the whole area near the Teign-e-ver clapper bridge, which rather shocked the dogs since they'd been expecting a drink. In the end the Berner decided to wander on to the ice, and a little while later there was the sound of happy crunching and a splash. She was wet and very contented again.

Bernese walking where two minutes ago all was ice.

Bernese walking where two minutes ago all was ice. You can still see some slabs near her left foreleg.

It's not so cold now - but the forcast tomorrow is for minus 2, and I'm planning on a good wander tomorrow afternoon, heading up over towards Wild Tor. It's an area I've not been to before. But as usual, I'll walk until it gets darker, and then find somewhere that looks sheltered before firing up the cooker and having a hot supper.

And then, as soon as I get back, I will have to crack on with book 28. That one's going to be fun, with the sad death of a lovely man. Oh, sorry, shouldn't give away any more than that. But we're getting to Isabella's invasion and how it'll affect Baldwin and Simon. And things are going to get pretty bad for them.

Serious Frost

Serious Frost. This is a fairly deep pool which has frozen solid near the Upper Teign.

And finally, on a happier note, thanks to all those who got back to me about the reference to hops and the feeble French! I've passed on your remarks to the gentleman concerned, and hopefully it'll help his research paper to make a mark.

So thanks to all of you. Hopefully I'll be able to see some of you later in the year, and do please let me know about any other possible venues for talks - I'll consider just about anything to make the travel pay for itself and not leave me too much out of pocket.

Oh, and there is one more thing, of course: Happy New Year!
Michael Jecks

Trees casting a long shadow on the frosty grass.

Trees casting a long shadow on the frosty grass.

North Dartmoor
January 2009