Yesterday, I posted up an interview with the amazing Kathleen Ryan, a former police officer from the States. Today's post links nicely in with it as we have a couple of veteran officers from the UK.
A warm welcome for Bob and Carol Bridgestock if you please.
1. Bob and Carol you have clocked up a staggering 47 years of employment with the Police. So with that vast amount of experience was the writing of crime novels a natural progression for you and have you found it easy?
People have always told Bob that he should write a book because he was forever making people laugh and cry with some of the real life stories he told. He had always dismissed the idea until one day, out of the blue his attention was drawn to an advertisement for a course at the local college ‘Write Your first Novel.’ On impulse he enrolled us both. A change of career path and a steep learning curve made for a difficult transition. It required a vast amount of determination and rewrites to complete the first novel, ‘Deadly Focus’.
2. How does it work as co-authors under the name R C BRIDGESTOCK? Do you sit down and write together?
We initially work in separate rooms so not to disturb each others direction. Bob writes the plot and the storyline taking the reader with him from the moment Inspector Jack Dylan gets the call to a body. With his experience they can travel with him to the dark corners, feel frightened and threatened as well as being amused by some of the incidents. If you didn’t have these moments you’d probably cry. He will take you through the investigative processes as the man in charge, the individual with the responsibility of bringing the offenders to justice.
Carol then works on the draft, building up the storyline and characters that they have discussed whilst bringing out importantly the true underlying emotion of the hard faced detective. She also lets you into the highs and lows of the home life of Dylan’s partner Jen who constantly has to deal with the demands of his high profile job. Whilst Carol is working on that book, Bob looks forward at the next in the series. Once they have added their own style to the story they work through the rewrite together ensuring that every sentence is relevant and moves the story forward at pace.
From the original course a writing circle evolved that meets monthly and is chaired by Carol which is a great asset in obtaining sound bites about each others writing.
3. Do you ever disagree over a storyline?
No, we love working together and feel fortunate to be able to do so after spending so much time a part in the past because of the job! We have long discussions about characters and plots whilst walking the dogs. But, Bob obviously knows how the job is done ,what it feels like to be given the task of taking charge of a murder and how frustrating it is to get the justice the victim and family deserve. Carol knows how it feels to live with that person and what the job does to their home life. So the roles are quite defined really. The most difficult part for Carol is drawing out of Bob how it really feels to see the horrific sights he has seen, to go to a post mortem even and to pursue killers. He sees it all in a days work whilst she sees it as most people would, a nightmare you would never want to face.
4. What did you do before you both wrote?
Bob was born in Huddersfield, West Yorkshire, England in 1952. He left Grammar School at the age of 15, served an apprenticeship as a Butcher then two years in a dye works before joining the police force on the 28th January 1974.
His distinguished career spanned some thirty years, after which he received a Certificate of Loyal Service to the Community. During his role as a detective he worked within the CID at every rank. For over half his service he was a senior detective, retiring at the rank of Detective Superintendent in charge of homicide enquiries.
In his last three years alone he took charge of a staggering 26 murder investigations, 23 major incidents including shootings and attempted murders and over 50 suspicious deaths as well as numerous sexual assaults.
He has received numerous commendations running into double figures from High Court Judges and Chief Constables for his personal commitment, professionalism, expertise and diligence .His skilful leadership was utilised in a protracted high profile investigation into Police corruption with another Police force. Bob although carrying a heavy workload was also an ‘on call’ Force negotiator for kidnap and hostage situations, as well as suicides and extortion.
Carol was born in Halifax, West Yorkshire in 1961. She left Grammar School at the age of 16 and went onto study hairdressing at College. Having qualified at the age of 20 she was running her own business, a successful hairdressing salon. She also returned to College but not as a pupil but as a teacher helping others to achieve a high standard.
In 1988 she commenced working for West Yorkshire Police as a member of the support staff in the Administration Department working in various roles before becoming a Supervisor. Carol also she received a Chief Constable’s commendation for her drive and determination in establishing a crime prevention initiative involving Schools and the local community.
5. I assume your legal knowledge and working within the police environment is a great asset in writing Crime fiction saving a lot of time researching?
Yes, definitely. One of Bob’s pet hates is police procedure that isn’t portrayed correctly either in books or on the TV which is why perhaps secretly he wanted to put the record straight about what really happens his writing.
A lot of Police work is mundane but through fictional work you can keep it moving at a pace.
Yes knowing the processes is a huge advantage coupled with real life incidents keeps research at an absolute minimum leaving more time to write.
A regular question we are asked is,’ Are the characters based on people you know?’
Dylan obviously sees the sights through Bob’s eyes and Jen through Carols so very loosely they are linked to them, as for the rest of our characters these are drawn upon through our life experiences of an abundance of people, they do not relate to any individual.
6. What’s your first book about?
An excited little girl goes to show her grandmother her bridesmaids dress; she never returns vanishing without a trace.
This opening story line introduces a new hero in the form of Jack Dylan in Deadly Focus, a hero you’ll easily get to know within just a few hours of being introduced. The story is seen through the eyes of senior investigating officer Jack Dylan as he hunts down a serial killer in the present but has to look to the past to get the answers he most desperately needs. During the course of the investigation Dylan’s own personal principles are put to the test as he is attacked on the job. With no obvious motive for the murders or attack on Dylan the need to solve the crime is more frustrating than ever. Dylan has passion and a relentless need for justice, and outside of the office readers are introduced to the lovely Jen who is Dylan’s life, however as the killer ups the ante, Dylan’s health is affected and his relationship is under enormous strain. Jack Dylan has to maintain the impetus to catch the killer and secure justice for the victim’s families. Reading Deadly Focus gives the reader a rare insight to the routine of police life, which hopefully makes this story, hit home even more.
7. Once written what were you’re high’s and lows?
Having being a high profile Police Officer, what would the media or ex-colleagues make of it, if it was published?
Trying to get a publisher definitely is even harder than writing hundreds of thousands of words. There are a lot of good writers out there! The most nervous point was waiting for reviews. However, a week after Carol sent Deadly Focus to Natasha Harding for a review she got a phone call as we travelled north to start out publicity campaign to say it was in that day’s newspaper! That feeling was surreal. Below is the review in a national newspaper.
When nine-year old Daisy Hind vanishes while walking home from her grandma’s house, the town of Harrowfield is in uproar. Then footie ace Christopher Spencer is found hanging after celebrating two winning goals – and investigating office Jack Dylan knows he has a serial killer on his hands. The perpetrator is intent on causing as much pain to the families of his victims and needs to be caught soon. The husband-and-wife co-authors, who spent years working within the police force, make this fictional tale believable in every way. A cracking story.
The reviews have continued to be excellent which is encouraging.
The best part was seeing and holding the finished version of a novel you have written for the first time. Very satisfying after all the hard work.
8. What are you doing at the moment?
This year we secured a publisher for our second book ‘Consequences’.
Darren E Law at Caffeine Nights Publishing has a simple goal and that is to publish books that entertain – fiction aimed at the heart and the head. Caffeine Nights Publishing will be re launching Deadly Focus in spring 2011 as a platform for Consequences in summer 2011. We will be working alongside and competing with the best of crime writers. Carol is presently in the process of re-writing book 3 and Bob has just finished the outline for book 4. So as you can see the writing has become addictive and we continue to enjoy it.
9. Who designed you book cover and do you have a website yet? Are you on face book?
Andrew Beckwith – http://www.andrewbeckwith.com/ is presently designing a website for us and he also designed the book cover for Deadly Focus.
We have a Deadly Focus Facebook group page with over four hundred and sixty people following and that number grows every day.
10. Where is Deadly Focus available?
Deadly Focus is available through most major book sellers and online. But Caffeine Nights will re publish next spring. You can register for Caffeine Nights newsletter on their website. http://www.cnpublishing.co.uk/ for the latest news.
You can now keep up to date with their movements at their revamped site at www.rcbridgestock.com .