When I was a child, anything I turned up in the garden or on holiday beaches had to be washed and inspected – from blue and white china to hagstones. The best bits were stowed in a box of “treasure” under my bed, with tons of other out-of-context junk. My favourite TV programmes were In Search of the Dark Ages*, Chronicle and the pre-dumbed down Horizon (Paul Vaughan, thou should’st be narrating at this hour). Spending all my time out of doors meant I was never pasty, but I was a swot and suffered for it at my sport-obsessed school.
Years passed, I met my perfect man and settled down to my ideal job as a writer. We started a family when Time Team was still Time Signs, so you can tell how long ago that was. Years of exposure to Phil Harding and co. had a subliminal effect on our daughter. She is studying archaeology at university, with time off for good behaviour spent in the excavation at Silchester. Writers aren’t the only people whose job is also their hobby!
It’s always seemed a shame to me that armies of diggers and academics work so hard in unglamorous situations for so little reward. For every Staffordshire Hoard, there must be a million middens to be excavated. That’s why Josie the trowel jockey in The Count’s Prize turns Cinderella, and I hope you all enjoy reading her story as much as I enjoyed writing it.
*And IMHO, Michael Wood is still orders of magnitude better looking than Sir Mortimer Wheeler.