9th August 2018
'Starting Over' is the title of the new novel and is a prequel to the Teacher series and set in the 1950s. The novel was launched last week and I’ve completed various book signings. Two more are in the pipeline at Waterstones BASINGSTOKE at 12.30 p.m. on Friday 10th August and Waterstones ALTON at 11.00 a.m. – 1.00 p.m. on Saturday 11th August. It was good to meet many fans of the series and thank you for the support.
The new book cover certainly 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. The first novel is set 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 research has including sixties culture, 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 made an audio recording of this novel at the Soundings Studio in Newcastle and will be there again next month recording ‘Starting Over’.
Following the award of the honorary title of Cultural Fellow of York St John University I am required to give a series of lectures over the coming years and the latest, ‘The Art of Paperback Writing’, was delivered to a large audience at the University.
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 . . . including one lady who lives in a remote area of Australia 1,000 km from the nearest bookshop! 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.