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My aim in writing “Cheshire Cheese and Camembert” was to take some of the younger characters who appeared in “Blessèd are the Meek and “Twenty-six Nil” and place them in a more modern setting, ie. the early years of the 20th century. The turbulence of the period between 1913 and 1919 made for a vibrant background: the suffragette movement, the Easter Rising in Ireland, the Russian Revolution, not to mention the Great War.

Inevitably the war had the greatest impact on families like that of my narrator, Charlie Knott, but I did not want to turn my novel into a war story. Reports of events in northern France come only from newspaper reports or more graphically from letters from Charlie’s son Alfred.

As Charlie has left Hyde for work by the docks at the eastern end of the Manchester Ship Canal, the town of Hyde is less of a feature than in the previous books. However, perhaps I should have made at least a brief mention of the sacrifice Hydonian men and women made at that time. 710 men of Hyde who gave their lives are commemorated at the cenotaph on Werneth Low, a windblown hill overlooking the town and the great pattern of distant boroughs. It is one of my favourite places in the world.

  • Writer's pictureBrent

Into 2016

There was too much going on over Christmas and the New Year to write a word. Not even a word in a blog, never mind a word of new fiction. The resolution to get on with the rewrite of Bailing Out, though, should not be hard to keep to once I get into the right frame of mind and find some empty hours.

2015 ended well, with the first batch of 200 copies of Shillingstone Station selling out just before Christmas. I was both surprised and delighted. I hastily ordered a reprint of a cautious 100 and they are disappearing too. To the six shops in Dorset I added one in Hyde where the novel is now on sale: the shop whose morning newspapers I delivered for four years from 1968 to 1972! Although I do have plans to extend the promotion the book into the new year I am actually keener to spend the time writing the next one.

I am steadily devouring the 600+ pages of Adam Sisman’s extraordinary biography of John le Carré (a Christmas present) but ideas for improving Bailing Out are still popping out at me, and this one very definitely is not a story of spying. It is set in Dorset but there the similarities with Shillingstone Station end: no steam trains, no secret agents, no life-defining trips to Latvia.

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My aim in writing “Cheshire Cheese and Camembert” was to take some of the younger characters who appeared in “Blessèd are the Meek and “Twenty-six Nil” and place them in a more modern setting, ie. the

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