Letter: March 2006

Let me tell you a little about myself. I live in Battle in Sussex, alone, that is except for a ginger cat called Gus who occupies the house with me. I got him from the R.S.P.C.A. rescue centre in Hastings and chose him because of his beautiful and unusual markings. Unfortunately he had already been given the name Gus and I didn't think it would be fair on him to start calling him Orlando which is what he really is, a truly marmalade feline with a somewhat wild nature.

I was widowed ten years ago when Zak Packham, my partner, died of a heart attack caused by smoking. As you can guess I have disliked smoking ever since and I for one will be glad when it is banned in pubs and restaurants. I already had two children, Amanda and Brett, when I met Zak, their father being the late Bill Lampitt. But Zak was kind and good to them both and for a while Amanda lived with us in Zak's darling little cottage set in the heart of rural Sussex. They were idyllic years during which Brett married Sally his long-time girlfriend, but, like all good things, they came to an end.

I moved to Devon to a rather depressing place called West Hill but I discovered Sidmouth, with which I fell madly in love. The repertory theatre was run by a friend of mine, Imogen Vance, a most amusing woman, and I also made a good friend of John Elnaugh, one of the leading actors. His birthday is a few days after mine, 12th March, and we always meet in London and have a celebratory lunch. Anyway, though Devon was beautiful and lively during the summer, the winters were bleak and lonely. So before the second winter was upon me I upped sticks and moved to Battle where I have a delightful house and small garden, shared by me and the cat and the occasional teachers who come over with noisy groups of students to improve their English.

At the moment I am in the process of starting a new John Rawlings book, this one to be set in West Wickham Place, the home of Sir Francis Dashwood, to be called DEATH IN HELLFIRE. I hope to finish it by about September when I will deliver it to my publishers for publication in 2007.

On the social side I am being kept fairly busy. I went out recently in London to celebrate my birthday, and again locally with my family. This consists of Brett and Sally and their three children, Henry, Elliot and Amelia, together with Amanda and her husband Paul and their son, Fintan. Henry is thirteen, Elliot is eleven, and Amelia and Fintan are both eight, Amelia being the elder by three months. That evening I was taken out yet again and this time found it rather hard to eat as you can well imagine.

I am also organising the Crime Writers' Conference which this year - in April to be precise - is to be held in Ireland, at Malahide, a coastal resort nine miles east of Dublin. It is quite a bit of work getting sorted out and a couple of publishers are being extremely slow about sponsoring us, which is causing quite a headache. However, I'm sure they will help us in the end and a very good time will be had by all. I shall write again afterwards and show you some pictures of the event.

My passions in life are opera and ballet and I am going to see Eugene Onegin soon in which the name part is being sung by a young friend of mine, James Cleverton. I shall give you a full report when next I write.

Sadly, this is all I have time for at the present, but I will be in touch again soon.

Meanwhile, take care.
Deryn Lake

March 2006