PLEASANT VICES

The residents of the Close were much concerned with crime - preventing it, that is. With all those out-of-work teenagers on the nearby council estate hanging around, stealing, joy-riding and goodness knows what else, it was just as well that Paul Mathieson was setting up a Neighbourhood Watch scheme.

Not that the inhabitants of the Close did not have their own little activities, of course, but these were hardly the same thing. If Jenny and Alan's daughter was caught travelling on the underground without a ticket, and their son was doing a little experimenting with certain substances, and Laura didn't see the need to declare her earnings from hiring out her house to a film crew, and Jenny drove home only just over the legal limit - well, these were quite different matters, not to be compared with what went on in the Estate. And then there was Jenny's discovery, when she advertised flute lessons, that she could work up quite a nice little earner in a rather unexpected way...

As the leafy London street resounded to the efforts of its citizens to keep crime at bay, Jenny realised that it was her marriage, rather than her property, that needed watching.

Writing the second book is very nerve-wracking. For one thing you have a deadline that you didn't have first time round. And then there's that awful question: are you sure you've got another book in you? I was surprised (plus delighted and relieved) to find I still had plenty to say, that I loved the whole process and that Just for The Summer hadn't been a one-hit item.

'Pleasant Vices' came about because I was disgruntled. That's the wonderful thing about writing - if you've got a view you want aired you just write it in somewhere. This time it was school-gate snobbery that got to me. I felt aggrieved about attitudes of some of the parents at the fee-paying schools in our area: if a bike went missing, if any vandalism occurred, it was always assumed the culprits were from the adjoining council estate. I tried, I really did, to point out that the only difference between the two groups was luck.