When you have an animal detective in your novel! 

I spoke too soon. I said I had nearly finished On Jacaranda Street two posts ago - I was at the 86,000 word mark. I've had to write book #2 in my A Jack & Bea Mystery series in bursts between editing. I've edited A LOT this year, and you can snoop here to find out what I have edited.

Somehow, the 86,000 words ended up at over 134,000 words, but I AM DONE! FINISHED! FINITO! (insert any other appropriate word!). I wrote The End on December 22 and started the book on May 24, 2021.

I'm in the historical gothic fiction genre, so books are typically in the 90,000-120,000 word range. My process will be to leave the novel for now and pick it up again in about a month to give myself some distance. Then, I'll read it through twice and mark out what can go (although I have a reasonably good idea). I may carve out the first few chapters and spin that into a separate novella or edit within an inch of the book's life to bring it down to around 100,000-115,000. Ideally, I'd like to prune to around 95,000. I don't mind reading longer novels, but there are target word ranges for genres, true to say. We shall see!

Meanwhile, I want to introduce you to Ben, an English Pointer, who, like Ziggy in Ashgrove Park, is a major character in my latest novel. I'm a great fan of animals in fiction - one of the books I enjoyed thoroughly and often think about is The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek by Kim Michele Richardson, which featured the fabulous and 'ornery' mule, Junia. (By the way, this book is a bestseller, and note the first name, which is also my first name, so here's hoping!).

But back to Ben. A lovely Canadian woman contacted me in 2010 on my old blog. We had two English Pointers, and she and her husband were curious about the breed. They ended up getting two Pointers as well - a male and a female. Ben was a lot like my male Pointer, Zeph - both had quirky characteristics and Ben (who has sadly passed) loved to chase butterflies. We often talked about how alike our boys were, and when I sat down to outline On Jacaranda Street, I knew I wanted another dog as a character because I'd had such fun writing Ziggy into Ashgrove Park

So, I asked permission to have Ben as a character, and he basically wrote himself. If you've signed up to receive my newsletters, you would have learnt more about Ben in my June 2021 newsletter.

On Jacaranda Street is set in Sydney in late 1923/early 1924. The setting is Currawongs' Crossing, a stately gothic mansion on Jacaranda Street in Jacaranda Bay (yes, I have a thing about jacarandas - their purple blooms remind me of my hometown of Sydney). Two murders take place at Currawongs' Crossing, and Jack Collingwood (my main character from Ashgrove Park) solves the crimes, along with Harold Chesterfield (a special constable with the Sydney Central police). Harold will be spinning off into his own series, set in 1920's/1930's Sydney, which I'll focus on in 2022. 

Ben is Jack's sidekick and saves the day. Yes, I know that's vague, but early in 2022 (after I've whittled the novel down), I'll write the blurb and then be more precise. It's all in my head, though (thank goodness, I hear you mutter).

What I can tell you is: On Jacaranda Street has murders, a ghostly presence, a frenzied search for diamonds, a canine detective, a violent leader of a Sydney underworld gang, a glimpse into the vanished Sydney of the 1920s, and two men who become close friends as they work together to find out 'whodunit.' 

Sound good? I am aiming to publish in March 2022. 

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