Nobody ever forgets a cancer diagnosis. I remember that, as the doctor was telling me the bad news, the nurse got out a beautiful fountain pen and started writing across the top of my new file in a lovely flowing hand.
When the doctor asked me if I had any questions, I nearly asked the nurse where she’d got that pen. I did compliment her on her handwriting. ‘It’s a shame I’m having to write such awful things,’ she replied, looking me straight in the eye. Malignant melanoma were the words she’d written. Those Ms lent themselves beautifully to calligraphic swirls. I’d been trying to disassociate myself from the diagnosis by concentrating on the pen, the words, the writing, anything but what I was being told. And she was forcing me to face up to the fact that I was very ill.
It’s hard to get to grips with something like cancer. Life is definitely not the same after you’ve been told you have it. I decided that, if I got through it, I would make sure I had something to show for it. That’s why I’m so glad that my book, Death in Dulwich, is about to come out. Though I didn’t write it by hand with a beautiful pen, it is a celebration of survival, as well as, I hope, a gripping and funny yarn about a lovely place which hides some sinister goings-on. And, best of all, it’s a series. Long may the adventure continue.