The hiatus will be delayed

Fortunately for me, the word hiatus just means ‘gap’ – it can be big or little. When I used it in the heading of my last entry, I thought it would be short because my operation was due this week. Today, however, I got the news that I wouldn’t be going in until the 26th so we’re now talking of a stretched hiatus (which sounds like a gynaecological term but, as far as I know, isn’t). In fact, it’s now been stretched so far that it’s not a hiatus at all because I’ll probably post a couple more things in the interim. Instead then, it’s now a delayed hiatus, which is probably a cosmic anomaly.

Anyway, to celebrate or deplore this fact, I decided that it’s about time the poor old Sparrow got some attention. For no discernible reason (apart from the obvious fact that they’re literary masterpieces), readers seem to be showing some interest in the Jack Carston books, especially Material Evidence, but The Figurehead and The Sparrow Conundrum are languishing, seemingly unloved. The former did, of course, have its blaze of glory last month when I made it free for a couple of days and it leapt to number one in Amazon’s historical fiction list. It even earned a couple of 5 star reviews, too.

The Sparrow, despite 13 reviews (11×5 star, 2×4 star), is friendless, forlorn but, this weekend, will also be free. You can download it on Saturday 29th or Sunday 30th from the USA here and the UK here

The delayed hiatus also gives me more time to finish an interesting wee project. As part of the year of Creative Scotland, Haddo House, a National Trust for Scotland property near Aberdeen, is holding a crime festival on October 19-21. I’ll be repeating the workshop I gave in France but I’m also devising the scenario for families which visit the property to solve a mystery. It has to be suitable for ages 6-16, which is actually a difficult spread, but I still think it’ll be fun. The presence of young kids meant I had to scrap the first idea (the Laird has a habit of seducing chambermaids, they get pregnant, are sacked and want revenge, so murder him most foully). But 

it’ll still be interesting because I’ll set it in the mid 19th century, they’ll walk through 3 rooms, spotting (or not) clues, and then have to decide who knocked out the Laird and stole some money. They’ll then get a second chance because we’ll give them access to modern techniques – DNA, chemical analysis of soil and glass samples, fingerprints, etc., to show them how much easier it is to solve crimes nowadays.

It’s interesting for me because thinking up a story by starting with clues doesn’t feel natural. I prefer to get the characters interacting and let them decide who does the deed and how and why they do it. The clues are then by-products of their actions. But being forced out of your comfort zone is always a productive experience.

But forget all that, look into my eyes and repeat after me ‘Must download Sparrow. Must download Sparrow’..


  1. Sorry you’re having to wait a little longer (until my birthday actually!) for your enforced rest, Bill, but that crime festival idea sounds great fun. Lovely venue too if that’s a photo of it. All the best with Sparrow.

    1. Thanks, Rosemary and, since I probably won’t be near a keyboard on the day itself, happy birthday. Yes, the photo is Haddo. Like most NT properties, well worth a visit – lovely gardens and some gorgeous interiors.

  2. If stretched hiatus is not a gynaecological term, it jolly well ought to be. Nuff said.

    Can you not have 2 murder mysteries? One for the kiddies and one for the not-kiddies? Then you could have the chamber maids doing away with the laird in a most interesting way. It would be entertaining, I’m sure.

    1. Yes, Greta, I’d already decided to do two mysteries using more or less the same clues plus some juicier ones because there’ll also be corporate events at some point when teams get to work together on the mystery (with proceeds going to charity). And if ‘stretched hiatus’ does become a gynaecological term, I don’t want it named after me.

  3. Stretched Hiatus does exist as a medical term. The first in the list of possible causes is pregnancy so, while you’re on that operating table, ask them to have a look further down. I like the sound of the Haddo event. You -and your followers- might know of a series of books published in 1939 and reprinted in 1982, written by Dennis Wheatley, where the reader is given a series of “exhibits” in small envelopes and invited to solve the mystery posed by the text. The envelopes contain hair grips, spent bullets, cigarette butts, sparrow feathers…… that reminds me….

    1. New readers should note that Ron’s apparent anxiety at the thought I might be pregnant does not stem from any concern about the viability of my uterus. No, he is simply disturbed at the thought of having to add another niece/nephew to his Xmas present list. His reference to Dennis Wheatley, author of the infamous ‘To the Devil a Daughter’, is confirmation of the fact.

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