When I originally wrote my trilogy on 'what war does to people', each of the later books was written because a number of readers asked 'But what happened next?' I thought I had provided all the answers until a few years later I was asked this question once again. By then my life had changed completely - I was widowed, living in Foxhall Court, a retirement complex in Banbury, and thinking of trying my hand at a mystery book for the first time. So, when asked this question and after struggling on exactly how I was going to tackle it, I went back to Mike and Minkie and the curious way the world had been developing in the interim. And re-reading these books, I thought how well they might be turned into a trilogy in which each book could still be read separately, but which could also be read consecutively. And so 'Distant Echoes' was born and became available early in 2019.
Then I began asking myself 'so, what happened after that?' The world has become such an entirely different place it is almost like having moved to another planet - not least in terms of technology including the developing and somewhat alarming prospect of artificial intelligence.
Over a quarter of a century my characters had aged as, indeed, had I. A retirement complex might be an unusual place for a murder mystery, but why not? Each of the earlier three books had been based on facts only known to certain characters which had considerably influenced events. 'The burden of uncertainty or, indeed, untruth' was common to them all - and not a bad title for a fourth book. Additonally, new forms of crime had become almost commonplace, such as the exploitation of illegal immigrants and the arrival of canibis farms in the most unlikely venues.
So ... watch this space!
Now, in the early months of 2020, a major task is a serious research programme: principally into the changes that have occurred in the Republic of Bosnia since the civil war which created it. For much of its history, Bosnia was part of the Ottoman Empire and, as such, it had an extremely varied ethnic mix: there was about an equal proportion of Serbs, Croats and Bosniaks (the latter Slavs converted to Islam). In addition many who had had experienced persecution elsewhere were made welcome. These included the Jews who were persecuted in Spain and made their home right up to the advent of Holocaust in the 20th century. It is true that those who converted to Islam were granted privileges, but in comparison with the appalling way in which those following certain beliefs were treated in certain periods in history, Bosnia was a place of relative tolerance until the civil war that fragmented Yugoslavia.
My other principal lines of research were in order to make this a truly modern book, reflecting the times - including the everlasting Brexit - and afflictions which had troubled society a good deal since the mid-20th century. These included illegal immigrants, and the plague of addiction which had become ever more embracing of everything from tobacco and alcohol to drugs and sex. The immigration originated from many places, latterly those embroiled in civil war in the Middle East or poverty in Africa; the drugs featured everything from the relatively mild to the highly toxic.