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Research is important for a good novel, particularly one that is set in a country that is not the author’s home and native land, in a time before said author was born. This is of particular importance when the author is someone who was not so good with history. And has a patchy memory at best, as in, it’s hard to say what I did last week let alone key things that have happened in The World.

And since what I’ve been up to over the winter has been primarily writing a novel, I don’t have a lot to tell The Mom about during our weekly iChats. This is often a thing that happens. Other people, I do believe, the ones who go out into the world and do stuff and things, often have much in the way of news and or amusing anecdotes to report back. I live in my head and though there’s a lot that goes on in there, not all of it can be let lose on The Mom. She’s no delicate flower, but seriously, there’s only so much one person should have to cope with.

But the novel has brought up questions to which I don’t know the answer. Now, of course, my first port of call is often Mr Google, but sometimes he and I can’t get our shit together enough to get me the answer I’m looking for. So it’s just easier to ask The Mom. Besides which, she’s a pretty savvy lady, and is generally up on things that have happened.

So yes, the last time we spoke, I asked her how to plan a nice funeral for my character Martha. Now, the other thing you need to understand here is that the characters in my novels sort of turn into my imaginary friends and I start talking about them as if they’re people I know. Which can be, I’m told, slightly disconcerting especially when I start jumping up and down because I’ve got to the point where I’m about to kill someone.

So, a chat with The Mom might go something like this:

“How are you dear? How was your week?” The Mom might ask.

“Martha’s going to die either tomorrow or next weekend. I can’t wait.”

“You don’t say this sort of thing at work do you? Because that could really be taken the wrong way.”

“Huh. That would explain a lot.”

“Dear Lord.”

“How can I get rid of John?  Oooh, I know, I could put him on the boat with them, as they go across the Channel and he can’t swim so he could fall in. He does have the dementia. Or what about if they push him because they can’t bear to see him unravel? Oooh, not a dry eye in the house.”

“You’d never get him on the boat if he’s that far gone.”

“What? Why not. You are a kill joy.”

“He’d have to go into an old folks home.”

“I think they’re called care homes here.”

“Either way, there’s no way he’d be allowed to live on his own.”

“Why? Who’s going to stop him?”

“He has children?”

“Yes.”

“They might.”

“No, they live away.”

“And they’ve just left him to rot?”

“He has a three-legged dog.”

“That’s not helpful.”

“He can’t go into a care home. What if they take him to the sea side and let him walk into the sea in a fit of delusion?”

“Them or him?”

“Him.”

“He won’t be able to walk if he’s that far gone. Or if he can he won’t be able to get to the sea. Why do you have to drown him?”

“It works.”

“He’ll probably die in the hospital.”

“That won’t work. I think his children need to help him along.”

“I’m sorry to be the one to ruin your novel dear, but even in fiction there are rerocussions about this sort of thing.”

“What?”

“His children would probably go to jail for killing him.”

“Oh. That won’t work either.”

I’ve been asking about other things too, not just how to kill people, but The Mom hasn’t done too badly. She’s not about to win a pub quiz on things that happened back in the day in England, and she doesn’t know a thing about licensing laws, but by extrapolating from Canada to the UK, so far, we’ve not done too bad a job. I will have someone who is English look over it though, at the end. And possibly a lawyer. Or at least someone who can vouch for my weird Googling habits. Seriously, anybody near me dies in the next year or so and the local constabulary are going to turn up at my door.

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