Going bananas

The die is cast, and Thirteen Fourteen Maids A-Courting has been loaded on Amazon, officially publishing on May 1st, unofficially available a few days before that, at the pre-release price which is a touch under what you would donate at the office for the birthday of someone you barely know.  Here’s a thought. Buy them my book instead?

You can pre-order by clicking on this cover pic on most Amazon sites, then you won’t miss the intro price. The cover was created by Lacey O’Connor from a photo I took of Los Gigantes, a fairly typical Tenerife picture.

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However, this isn’t the blog where I nestle on your lap and try to slip my hand in your pocket. That follows in a couple of days and shouldn’t be missed. This is a blog for those who haven’t been to Tenerife and might be intrigued enough by my descriptions of the banana plantations to want to look up a few photos.

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You won’t find many. For some inexplicable reason the plantations, which are everywhere and spectacular, are not on websites. Since they fascinated me, and play a distinct role in the book, there was nothing for it but to produce a banana plantation blog, even though I am a poor photographer with a cheap camera and an unrivalled genius for capturing unwanted poles, overhead wires and bits of cars.

Tenerife is a volcanic island, and there are very few places where you aren’t on a slope. As bananas are conservative, and like life on the level, the plantations have to be built up to keep them as flat as a billiard table. The retaining walls are often built of volcanic rock, and the effect is extraordinary. Once you are out of the tourist centres, they are everywhere, even cheek by jowl with built-up (non-tourist) areas.

Some plantations are neatly terraced. Some are neglected. Some balance on the edge of ravines (it is a challenging landscape, once away from the beaches) and others line the highway. They’re quite something.

Introducing the banana plantations of Tenerife.

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Oh, why not. A mountain and ravine as well. In for a penny, in for a pound. It isn’t a pretty place. More – gobsmacking.

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Getting in early. Happy Valentine Day …

I had really hoped to be doing a St Valentine’s Day book launch, the next book is Thirteen Fourteen Maids A Courting, and what possible better publication date could there be than February 14 for a title like that?

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The main maid courting in this one is Kirsty, Edge’s lovely young niece, who is taking a brief holiday break from her job with Police Scotland to be wooed in the romantic surroundings of Tenerife.  Unluckily for Kirsty my books are whodunits, not love stories, so it will be no surprise to any regular reader that Drew vanishes, leaving her alone in the Canaries, unable to speak a word of Spanish and finding surprisingly little professional cooperation being offered by the multiple policing services on the island.

Edge, Donald, Vivian and William fly to the rescue (by private jet – all part of the story) and things, unsurprisingly, get complicated. In fact so complicated that there is no chance I’ll make this excellently appropriate deadline, the draft isn’t even at beta reader stage yet.  It was almost impossible making Eleven Twelve’s Halloween deadline, but it seems I never will learn to plan ahead properly.

Oh well, maybe next February! I have thoroughly enjoyed writing Thirteen Fourteen but have learned a short sharp lesson about writing books set in another country: I have now been to Tenerife three times and the phone lines hum between visits with difficult questions. How many morgues in Adeje? How many hospitals? Why would the Guardia Civil not call in the Policia Nationale instantly if there’s a possible kidnapping? How do you start a Segway? Why is the area where bananas are cultivated called a plantation, if the estate owning multiple plantations is also a plantation? Is the whole estate a finca, or just the villa? All the time humbly aware that there will be at least one crashing error which will make canny readers roll their eyes and say for goodness sake, did she do no research at all?

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When I do visit it is an effort to remember that sipping the addictive Café Canario (espresso coffee layered with condensed milk and topped with cream) while tourist-watching on the beautiful beaches and boulevards doesn’t butter those research parsnips.

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I just hope the book does well enough to justify at least one of the trips as business expenses, I’d hate to make HMRC officials rupture themselves laughing at the very thought. Be nice to someone special on Saturday, and have a great day.

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