9 February 2018
'Starting Over' is the title of the new novel in the Teacher series and will be launched on 26th July 2018. I've just seen the new book cover and it captures the essence of the time with the main character on her bicycle and the school in the background very much as I remember it.
I was asked by my editor to write two prequels to the series, one set in the fifties and one in the sixties. I've completed the first novel and set it in the academic year 1952/53. It's a time of post-war austerity, rationing, the first television sets and the Queen's Coronation. A new teacher, Lily Briggs, arrives in Ragley-on-the-Forest and begins her work in the village school. It proves to be eventful and the novel follows her life and loves through the changing seasons.
I'm now busy with the next prequel, working title 'One Life', and will be setting it in 1963/64. The coming weeks will be devoted to research including the assassination of John Kennedy and the emergence of the Beatles on the popular music scene. I've enjoyed the change of focus and I do hope my regular readers enjoy stepping back in time when some of the popular characters, including a youthful Vera the Secretary and a teenage Ruby, were living in the village long before they appeared in 'Teacher, Teacher!' set in 1977/78.
Meanwhile . . . many thanks to everyone who went out and purchased a copy of the latest Teacher novel. I received an email from my agent saying that after the first three days of sales 'Happiest Days' entered the national Original Fiction Top Ten at number nine. I have agreed to record this novel early next month at the Soundings Studio in Newcastle.
During 2017 I enjoyed various events including a very special one at York St John University. I was the guest of Vice Chancellor Karen Stanton and senior members of staff and, during an excellent dinner at Grays Court near the Minster, I was awarded the honorary title of Cultural Fellow of the University. It comes with responsibility and I have agreed to give a series of lectures over the coming years beginning with an event at 11.00 a.m. on 21st March 2018. The lecture in Temple Hall at York St John Universitywill be open to the public as well as the students and is part of the York Literary Festival.
Also sincere thanks to the countless readers, particularly those from Australia, New Zealand, the USA and Canada, who have emailed me saying how much they enjoyed the latest novel.Happiest Days moves on to the next academic year, 1986/87, in the life of Ragley School and its headteacher. All the old favourite characters return and another year of tears and laughter (with a dramatic conclusion!) is in store for the villagers of Ragley-on-the-Forest in North Yorkshire.
Recently I've received a number of emails from partially sighted readers who are enjoying the audio editions of the Teacher series. So thank you . . . it is rewarding to think my stories are providing some relaxing entertainment in your lives.
In the meantime very best wishes and happy reading,