Queen of Tarts! I intended to write a shortish book, making it one of four titles riffing on cards...Who knows why- must have seemed a good idea at the time.
Anyway, I went for it when the opportunity came to write a Halloween story. I named my heroine- Queenie Hart, and afflicted her with what she calls the Caledonian Curse, in that, every October, her speech and thought patterns get taken over by a cranky and highly suspect Scotswoman. Queenie doesn't want, or like to burst into a flood of Gaelic or, worse still, cod stage Scots invective when anyone annoys her, but there it is- come October, that's exactly what she'll do.
The Caledonian Curse has lost her jobs, friendships, boyfriends and is about to lose her the unit she has lived in by default since moving in with a work friend who subsequently moved out. It's not all about loss, either... it can also be about cost, as Lassie Haggis, as Queenie eventually dubs her extra personality, has a penchant for online shopping for everything from a round trip to Scotland to a case of Islay Malt and a bagpipe serenade. It's possibly unfortunate that Lassie Haggis is in control when Queenie encounters James Stuart (not the king or the actor) at Circular Quay...
I had a wonderful time writing Queenie's story but, par for the course, it went long. Eventually, it went TOO long for the publisher who had taken it on. Therefore, I split the ms into Queen of Tarts 1 and Queen of Tarts 2. The first one ends on the edge of October, with a sinister rustling in the belfry. The second ones ends on the night of Halloween. Q#1 came out in October. Q#2 will be out in late November. Having left Queenie in a position where she's solved her most pressing problems, I realised there was still more of the story to tell. Therefore, I wrote Queen of Tarts 3, subtitled The Twelve Tarts of Christmas. (Did I mention Queenie is a baker?) In this one, most of the remaining mystery is unraveled... It comes out in late December. I had a wonderful time with bats, The Belfry, a rackety 96-year-old landlord, a grumpy landlady, a load of fairies, tarts, a basket of childhood, a mysterious painting, a bus called Ethel... anyway, it was all enormous fun.
Oh, and naturally, I needed to know what happened to the grumpy landlady, Angel Petty, and to her new tenant, Penny Bunn, and so I wrote One Hundred Roses which comes out in February. I badly wanted to write Ninety-Nine Shamrocks for St Patrick's Day, but my computer crashed. Maybe next year.