Aug 212011
 

This week I was hoping to be able to tell you that my new novel Dancing with Spies would be available for down-loading in a matter of days. However there has been a hitch. The people who provided a photo from which an extract was taken to include in the cover design refused to permit us to use it for reasons best known to themselves, so Kelly is having to redesign the cover using a new photo. We hope this will only put back the launch of Dancing with Spies for a week or two.

Meanwhile I thought I would tell you how I discovered the character of the heroine in this book. Dancing with Spies is the first novel which I have tried to write entirely from a woman’s view-point. You can imagine it was not easy. I needed a role model for my heroine who is just an ordinary everyday woman – not a female James Bond. Of course I soon realised that the ideal role model was my wife. I knew for sure that she was a real heroine.

Sue is my second wife. I have only known her for twenty years. I wish I had met her three decades earlier. About twelve years before we met she reached a crisis in her life when she was told she had breast cancer. This was soon after she found out her husband was having an affair with a teenage girl who she  employed .  He had promised it wouldn’t happen again but she suspected he was still seeing her. And he wouldn’t give her any support when she went for surgery.

This was more than thirty years ago and the treatment she had was dreadful. With no-one to turn to for help or advice, she was bullied into having a mastectomy which she was later informed had not been necessary. After the operation she was very poorly for a week. She says she still remembers the first time she was allowed to go to the bathroom alone.

She opened her dressing gown and the buttoned nightdress and looked at the flat side of her chest with the jagged scar reaching from the middle of her body up into her armpit and it was like being slapped violently across the face. It took her breath away.

“What chance will I have with one breast against a seventeen year-old?” she thought and burst into tears.

Some months later she received a silicone implant that restored some of the confidence she’d previously had in her body but her husband could never bring himself to look at her in the nude again. Their relationship continued to deteriorate and some years later they were divorced.

The fact that she has only one breast of her own has never been an issue between us. In fact, at 65, I still think she is the sexiest woman that I have ever met.

Of course there is no direct similarity between my wife and the heroine of my novel. But I hope that some of the spirit she showed in adversity shines though in development of the main character in my novel, Caroline Daley. I would be pleased if you tell me what you think.