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  • Writer's pictureA J McDine

Life update: In which I meet some wizards and catch up with an author friend


It's been a busy few weeks since I last wrote - the highlight of which has to be my belated birthday treat - a trip to the Warner Bros' Studio Tour to see The Making of Harry Potter.

I've been a huge fan since I devoured Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone almost twenty years ago, so I was very excited to see behind the scenes at the Leavesden Studios near London.

It was actually my birthday in the summer, but I wanted to wait until the Christmas decorations were up at Hogwarts before we went. And it was definitely worth the wait!

It's absolutely mind-blowing to see the work that went into producing the Harry Potter films, from the animatronic Scabbers the rat to the huge Diagon Alley set, and everything in between.

It was definitely a birthday present to remember!

On the way home, we dropped in to see our friend and fellow psychological thriller author AJ (Amanda) Campbell and her husband Andy, and we spent a fun evening talking about books and life and generally putting the world to rights.

Amanda, whose fab books include The Phone Call and Her Missing Husband, signed with Bookouture around the same time I did, and it has been so nice to have a book buddy with me on this crazy journey. I don't want to sound all soppy about it, but I have made so many lovely friends since I started writing - both authors and readers.

It really has been a privilege and something I'm very grateful for.

Adrian and I are looking forward to seeing Amanda, Andy and a few more psych thriller authors in London for an early Christmas lunch next month. I'll make sure I get some pictures!

Luckily I finished the structural edit on Book #7 before our little Harry Potter mini-break, which meant I could enjoy the trip guilt-free.

There was more work to do on the structural edit this time round. Nothing too horrendous - thankfully! - it was more about honing the characters' motivations and fleshing out their backstories.

I also had to approve the final files for Book #6 which meant reading it again for the gazillionth time. I swear I know the story so well I could virtually recite it in my sleep!

I'm due to get the line edit of Book #7 back on Wednesday, which should keep me out of mischief for a while. I also need to work out what happens next in Book #8.

There's no rest for the wicked!

In other news, our youngest, Thomas, popped home for a few days during his university's reading week, and we went on a beautifully autumnal eight-mile walk around Chilham and Godmersham Park.

[If Godmersham Park sounds familiar, it's because it was once the home of Jane Austin's brother Edward, and she was a regular visitor there for many years.] The pretty village of Chilham is where most of Book #7 is set, and the protagonist's home is loosely based on this rather beautiful house in the vertiginously-named Mountain Street.

I grabbed a picture when we walked through the village to show you...

What a beautiful, chocolate-box cottage!

And, finally, some kitten spam. Charlie has well and truly settled in and we can't imagine life BC [Before Charlie].

He's taking his job as writer's cat very seriously and is a permanent fixture in his bed on my desk when I'm working. He has decimated most of our houseplants, he purrs like a train and he loves a cuddle. He thinks he's human and likes nothing more than sitting watching television with us every evening.

He is, in short, a complete sweetheart!

I'm sure I'll have some more kitten spam for you next time I write.

In the meantime, happy reading!


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