One of the joys of being a writer is my office is a moveable feast. For much of the year I like the disciplines of being rooted to my desk in either London or Sussex, but a dramatic change of scene, and escape into the tranquillity of France, has become an essential part of the finishing of each of the books in the Roy Grace series for me.
The first five of these novels have been finished, or virtually finished, in seclusion in France. I find a similar need to have a change of scene when editing, when my brain has to go into a different mode, and when my friend the brilliant composer and song-writer Tony Macaulay and his lovely wife Sarah invited us to his hideway on Cocoa Beach, on the Space Coast of Florida, I jumped at the opportunity.
Distant view of the missile silos
Tony’s most successful song was the perennial Build Me Up Buttercup and he has written countless hits for Diana Ross, Glenn Campbell, Tom Jones and many others. He also wrote the musical Windy City as well as writing several (non musical!) novels. Tony is in the middle of composing a new musical at the moment, which involves him sitting at his grand piano playing for much of the time, so while I worked away on the edit of Dead Tomorrow I was treated to a constant wonderful background of inventive music.
There was a certain “roundness” to my being on the Space Coast. One of the first writing gigs I ever had was working in Canada on a television series on the Apollo moon shots back in the early 1970s, and we spent time at NASA then. It was wonderful to sit on the balcony (pictured) with a view of the missile launch pads in the distance (too small so see in the picture!) Incidentally one scientist told me that an an Apple iPhone, or a BlackBerry contains more computing power than the whole of NASA had in 1969 when they put the first man on the moon!
PJ in his Space Coast office!
And that picture of me – yes it really is me up there. I am utterly terrified of heights, and hadn’t realized when I went to do some research at the Astronaut Training School, for a future novel I want to write, that weightless walking is to some extent about heights. Well, I guess the moon is pretty high up… In the photograph, you might see a smile on my face, but there is true terror in my eyes…!
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