The good news is that I've finished the first round of copyedits on THE QUEEN'S ACCOMPLICE (Maggie Hope #6) and sent everything back to the Powers That Be at Penguin Random House. Also, there's also a gorgeous cover to reveal — but they won't let me show you just yet!
And the bad news — you know all that research I was doing on yet-unnamed Maggie Hope #7? The one set in Paris? And how I'd started writing?
Well, as it turns out, it was a good story. But it wasn't my story. It just didn't work for me.
I have a lot of insomnia and usually curse it — but there, one night in the dark, at about 2 a.m., I realized, "This book is just not working."
And, so, with a heavy heart, I scrapped endless notes and about 30K worth of words.
It hurts, people — it hurts. I mean, yes, it's a so-called first-world problem, of course. But still.... ouch.
However, there's a bright side.
Initially, yes, I was upset. Angry, even. But then, after some time passed, I realized that what I was feeling was ... relief! Like, my subconscious had known this for a while and it took that long for the message to get through.
At any rate, the news isn't all bad and is in fact (ultimately) good: I've found the right plot now, with the right characters, and have found fantastic first-person research books to read. And so, I'm starting again!
I don't want to give away too much; but, as always, I'm using some real people as inspiration for fictional characters, including Maurice Buckmaster of Special Operations Execute (SOE, Churchill's secret army); Vera Atkins, also of SOE; and then a Frenchman named Henri Déricourt. Déricourt is a polarizing figure — he may have been a double, or maybe even a triple agent — working for SOE, the Gestapo in Paris, and, allegedly also for MI-6. No one agrees.
Questions about Henri Déricourt's loyalty's persist to this day, with historians on different sides of the fence. (Which makes him a fascinating, but difficult, figure to research).
It's important to note that the files that would have shed light on Déricourt and his (allegedly) being a double or even triple agent — burned in a fire at SOE in 1946, the day before they were supposed to be moved to storage.
That fire and all those records it consumed — it's like the burning of the Library at Alexandra for those of us consumed with curiosity about what happened to the SOE agents in France and their betrayal to the Gestapo. Something happened, something horrific.
But whether it was SOE's incompetence, an SOE double agent working with the Gestapo, or even a triple agent, betraying both SOE and the Gestapo to MI-6 — no one knows. The facts are so obscured now that Anthony Cave Brown reported a historian saying in BODYGUARD OF LIES: "[the disaster that happened to the agents of the SOE Prosper network] is a skein so tangled, so convoluted, attitudes of mind so Byzantine, as ... to defy rational analysis."
And so — unless something turns up, a diary, perhaps or something that was misfiled and thus survived the fire — it will remain a mystery.
Which, Reds and lovely readers, makes a great premise for a novel.
Have you ever put a lot of thought and work and energy into a project, only to realize it's just not working? What happened? How did you work through it? Tell us in the comments!