Time moves on apace toward publication day for The Consequences of Fear, the 16th novel in the series featuring Maisie Dobbs, psychologist and investigator. Without giving too much away, you'll be reading about another big turning point in Maisie's life, though you can probably tell from the title, "fear" is a theme in the narrative, and as we know, the anticipation and experience of both good things and bad can cause fear to emerge. I think I'm a pretty good example of that—writing is my passion, though it's never easy, with each book or essay I write presenting its own challenges—and a fast-approaching publication day is both very exciting and absolutely terrifying.
The "exciting" part is because I consider it a privilege to have my books published, and to have both long-term readers who look forward to my work, and those new to the series who are prepared to give it a try. I had wanted to be a writer from my earliest years (those of you who've read my memoir, This Time Next Year We'll Be Laughing will know more of the story), though it took me until my late thirties to make that dream come true, first as a freelance journalist who also had a day job (I had to pay the rent!), and then when I was 45 starting work on my first novel—Maisie Dobbs—which was published three years after I started the first chapter.
The scary part of publishing is trying to be a little immune to the comments of those who don't like my work, but as my late mother would have said, "You can please some of the people all of the time, or all of the people some of the time, but not all of the people all of the time." An old saying, but so true—you can't have it all, and I think my mother might also have said, "So you've just got to get on with it!" Having said that, if my books please my two surviving aunts, who are not only voracious readers but who don't hold back from letting me know what they think—then I'm a happy camper! My cousin told me last week, "Mum's read your new book—now she's on to the fact-checking." That aunt is almost 92.
In the last newsletter I wrote about the arc of the story, and how I began to develop the series. But I think there's more to tell. I've always loved those movies and books where there's an ensemble cast, all of whom play an important part in the story. I'm drawn to scenes where an old gang come together again—whether it's the original The Magnificent Seven, or Ocean's Eleven, or even that movie Red, with Helen Mirren, Bruce Willis, Morgan Freeman and a few other old spies who come out of retirement to go on the warpath against an international foe (Helen Mirren keeping dead bodies in her freezer!). I even liked Space Cowboys. I'm sure we could make quite the list of similar ensembles. That's why I enjoy working with my own ensemble cast. Yes, Maisie Dobbs is a key character, but there are other characters who have been with her since the first book. I've dropped a few here and there and created a few more, each time exploring their individual paths to see who they are. In that way, I've come to realize that what I wanted to create was an ongoing saga, where there is more than a mystery to each novel—there are references to previous cases, and I enjoy exploring the points where what has gone before impacts what happens next, and where the characters interact as we do in life. Some people are constants in our lives, whereas others come in and out as circumstances change. Life is, in its essence, a saga, so I wanted to bring that rhythm to the lives of my characters.
You'll see that play out in The Consequences of Fear, the next book in the ongoing saga of Maisie Dobbs, Billy Beale, Priscilla Partridge, Frankie Dobbs and Brenda, his wife. Robbie MacFarlane is there, and so is Mark Scott—as is Anna, the child Maisie loves with all her heart. Characters are brought back from the past, and some leave us, all in the midst of a case in which a boy who runs messages for a sensitive government department, while bombs are dropping across London. Then he witnesses a murder—and he knows who the killer is.
March 23rd—Publication Day!
"...Winspear successfully showing a more melancholy side to her steadfast heroine. Fans of the series will need no encouragement to try this."