Here is my eerily tidy workstation this morning, April 23. Honestly, I haven’t prinked it up for the picture – it really does look like this, and the reason is that the paperback of THE ILLUSIONISTS is out today and the hardback of DAUGHTER OF THE HOUSE is due on July 30. I finished the last and final work on DAUGHTER a couple of weeks ago and I’m waiting for the book proofs/advance reading copies to come in. So there’s no more writing on either of the two books that have absorbed me for ages, which means I’m cast adrift at the helm of an empty desk. Waiting for the current to sweep me and it into a new project. Or something of the kind – if only it was really so majestic and natural and ozone-rich. Actually it’s more a matter of disjointedly reading, scribbling paragraphs in notebooks that I immediately mislay, yawning, staring out of the window at people on bicycles, feeling slightly seasick as the idea weighs on my diaphragm, and telling myself alternately ‘it’s going to be brilliant and a work of genius’ or ‘it’s FAR too unwieldy, you know nothing about the subject, think of the RESEARCH, no one will read it. Try something noirish instead with GIRL in the title…’ But after so many years of writing and more than a score of novels in print, I know one thing. You can only write what’s in your head and heart. If it isn’t going to be what the market and the marketeers currently swoon for, then nourish the hope that yours will be the book that turns the tide in the latest direction. Believe in it. There is no other way. I LOVE this business. There are days when I hate it and would rather stick my head in the toaster than sit down at the keyboard, but it’s always, always fascinating. PS The Action Man mountaineer on my shelf is my ideal bloke. Craggy, the strong silent type, comes equipped with crampons, axes and an avalanche shovel. Fits conveniently into a pocket or handbag.