On Friday 26th November, “The Hanging Tree” is published. This is the fourth book in the series, The Adventures of Letty Parker and is a book I never intended to write.
Originally there were going to be three books, a proper trilogy no less. There were going to be two books, “City of Secrets” and “Bridge of Lies” followed by the final book, where Letty reaches the age at which I am going to stop writing about her.
Right at the very beginning I decided that what happens to her and her friends when they grow up can be inferred from the way their stories develop, but I am not going to write about an adult Letty, or Jeb, Hepzibah, or Mango, or indeed Gabriel, even though at the rate the Dark Ones age that would be so far in the future that the whole of Letty’s world would have changed. This is because my alternative Bristol, is a dark place and there would be no escaping from some of the harsher elements of life in Victorian England if I followed my characters into adulthood. So I am going to stop when they are still young and while the final book is still in a very early draft, it’s already there on my hard drive.
In spite that resolution the books are changing the perspective they progress. “The Hanging Tree” is the darkest of the books so far, dealing as it does with the realities of a society where a three year old can be sent to the workhouse for stealing bread and children can be hanged or transported to the Antipodes.
It’s also about growing up. Letty in particular is developing her understanding of and compassion for other people, she is also growing aware that nothing in life is straightforward and that those that we see as evil are not totally so and may do some good for the society in which they live.
From the very first image I had of Letty, sitting on the wharf side, spitting into the greasy grey waters of the river, she has been a character I’ve loved. Writing four books, so far, I’ve been able to follow her progress from street child, to pie seller, then the owner of her own detective agency.
There are more adventures to follow, some of which might never be written, in the meantime, “The Hanging Tree” is available on Amazon, other digital platforms and can be ordered from any good bookshop.