Book no 15, The Hidden Room, is out today. Actually, it was out in Aotearoa & Australia in May, because I was in NZ in May for book festivals and the Museums Aotearoa conference, but I live in London and this is where my books have been published first and … book no 15 is out today.
I started writing it when I hadn’t quite finished London Lies Beneath. I was on draft 4 or 5 or 6 (it took many drafts, and I’m glad it did, the work made it a better book). When LLB was still something deeply of my heart, fully, but not quite finished.
I started writing it when I wasn’t ‘supposed’ to be doing anything else – because Fun Palaces were just beginning to blossom, because London Lies Beneath wasn’t quite done, because I was still recovering from and about to have the final surgery for my second breast cancer, because it was a ‘quiet’ time of year.
I started writing it on 29 December 2014, when it was post-Christmas, before New Year and I was trying to have some time off and it was a year (almost to the day) since my latest cancer diagnosis and Fun Palaces had unexpectedly become the thing (one of the things) I do and I had meant to be being, not doing.
But I’m rubbish at being not-doing – I’m genuinely working on being, not always doing, but it’s definitely hard work for me. And I like making (I love making). And I had an idea that wouldn’t leave me alone, it had been there since Halloween, and even though it wasn’t the right time and even though I didn’t have time (officially) and even though I hadn’t actually finished London Lies Beneath and even though Fun Palaces … I started The Hidden Room anyway.
It’s my first crime novel in 12 years, my first crime book in 7 books. So now there are 6 crime books, 3 historical, 6 literary (various literary, incl magical in the case of Singling). And the crime people – writers and reviewers and publishers and readers – have been so lovely already. So welcoming-back already.
A new book is always a Big Deal. Because of when this one was conceived, all the huge things that were going on in the year leading up to it, illnesses and deaths and tough stuff and good stuff, it feels like an especially Big Deal. I’m very happy it’s now in the world.