Everything’s coming to a head: final proofs, back matter, acknowledgements, they all have to be thought about, generated, discussed, revised and checked while the printer’s deadline looms closer. And still the iterations of the front cover continue, back and forth, as we consult about an image that will grab the readers’ attention, please the eye and intrigue the mind. John Aldridge my book designer visited West Cumbria while I was away in Canada and took some stunning pictures of beaches and sunsets, and this is the first chance I’ve had to see them. Then Kevin Ancient the cover designer got to work, aiming to combine beauty and message. ‘Don’t be too specific about the message,’ they say, but I want a sense of threat, because it pervades the book. Threat to the community, and then a different, more personal threat to one of my beloved characters. Beauty alone, however striking, will not be enough, hence the debate, and now I think we’ve finally found what I want.
Once all the bits and pieces are agreed, off it all goes to the printers in Cornwall and we wait. Only three weeks and then the pallet with its precious cargo, the outcome of countless hours of work, will be delivered and we start the distribution to bookshops and tackle the long list of pre-orders. The trilogy is almost done: I can’t quite believe it. When I thought about the possibility several years ago I had no idea whether I could pull it off, but here it is. Amazing. Quarter of a million words about a West Cumbrian family in the first half of the twentieth century. There’s nothing quite like it anywhere, and it will still be there long after I’m gone, hopefully enjoyed by visitors and locals alike as a testament to this wonderful place and the people who live here.