I can’t say much without leading to spoilers, but there is a scene where Ruby’s friend Kaz talks about the woman he loves, and why she means so much to him. I re-read it just the other day and I got choked up all over again!
I don’t want to give too much away, but I struggled with the character of Bennett more than anyone else, mainly because so much of his life is shrouded in secrecy – and his secrets were ones he simply couldn’t share. As he says to Ruby at one point, “You know I can’t talk about it. To begin with, if I did, and if I were found out, I would end up in prison for a very long time. That is not an exaggeration designed to make me look mysterious and dashing—it’s the truth. But it’s also the case that I took an oath, a solemn and binding oath, to keep quiet about my work. And that’s what I have done.” I suppose I could have made him a more ordinary sort of man, but I wanted him to be as complicated and difficult and tortured as possible!
I always have at least one non-fiction book on the go, usually history, and I tend to dip in and out of it between intense sessions of fiction reading. I just finished Victorians Undone by Kathryn Hughes and loved it. I always have a pile of novels, mainly historical fiction although I do love British “Aga Sagas”, and I also enjoy cozy mysteries as a stress-buster. I used to have a mountain of New Yorkers taking up space but I finally switched to a digital subscription and that has made room for more books!
I’m a plotter down to my toes, mainly because I’m obsessed about ensuring my story fits within the established historical record. I don’t want to be halfway into a book before I realize the dates are messed up, so I create a long and extremely detailed spreadsheet that covers the story chapter by chapter. Only once I’m satisfied that everything hangs together do I start writing. I’ll adjust the outline as I go, and sometimes I end up wildly off the rails, but I need the assurance of an outline before I start.
My late grandmother, Nikki Moir, was a newspaperwoman, and it was her experiences as a young woman in a male-dominated newsroom that acted as the starting point for Goodnight From London. My heroine, Ruby Sutton, is entirely a product of my imagination – she isn’t at all similar to my grandmother – but I wouldn’t have found Ruby without the inspiration of my gran and her career.