Life at 70, for Norsewood author Lyn McConchie, is something to celebrate.

"Things have gone mad on the writing front and I had an April to end all Aprils," she said. "Yes, I turned 70, something I was somewhat startled to attain, had my first novella out and a new [Sherlock] Holmes mystery, my 37th book published. Then I sold a fantasy book, another novella (with 25,000 words approximately a quarter the size of a full book) and another Holmes book.

"Wow, April was great."

This month Lyn has finished the first draft of her latest Holmes book, carrying out a tweak on an earlier one already accepted and is spending a few days at a national convention in Wellington, as well as writing her next novella. She also writes a spread of articles for the Dannevirke News, a United Kingdom magazine and Animal's Voice, an SPCA quarterly.


"I also expect to have revision to do for several of the sold works and if that's cleared by October, I'll start my next science fiction disaster book, set in 2039, which has to be completed by Christmas," she said.

"I haven't been as hectic as this before and a friend commented [that] I was retired, which I had on medical grounds in 1988, but I've been working harder and faster ever since."

With up to eight books out this year, five whole books and three e-chat books, Lyn said she's finally beginning to see some financial recompense for all her efforts.

"Of course they're not all written this year," she said. "I write books and stash them and so I'm pleased I'm starting to sell some now.

"It's become a very fast, mad ride. I'm just fortunate I can write fast. I'm not a best seller, I'm not that good, but I am a mid-list author who writes publishable books.

"It's getting a bit more lucrative now. I get paid six-monthly and much depends on what I've in the pipeline. A book has to be out for six months before I see any payments and after six to nine months the royalties start coming in. If you get the pipeline full enough, it may mean between $5000 and $10,000 in a year."

Lyn said there's a huge market for Holmes stories at the moment and admits they're fun to produce.

"You don't have to worry about all that CSI stuff. Set in the 1890-1920 period, science wasn't involved in solving crime. It was all about deduction, commonsense and asking the right questions."


"I've a science fiction, disaster book short-listed for the Sir Julius Vogel award, a second verbally accepted by a publisher and I want to write the third, Son of a Traveller, with a fourth out next year."

With her publisher having accepted the first of her new fantasy series and Holmes "doing nicely" Lyn won't be taking a break from her computer anytime soon.

"I've just spent three weeks doing 12-hour days and I feel as though I'm going around and around in faster circles," she said.

And although she has the satisfaction of seeing her books published, Lyn admits it's hard to say goodbye to some characters.

"I do fall madly in love with some of my characters, especially a 26-year-old woman of independent means who has a Burmese cat called Mandalay. In Miss Emily Jackson and Mandalay, he's a cat burglar who turns up sitting on Holmes' doorstep and takes him on an adventure, including hunting for Emily who has been kidnapped by a spy. The end reward for Holmes is a big mouse.

"I've modelled Mandalay on my cat Thunder, who does that to me. Hops up on my bed and drops a mouse into my lap."