The idea of writing a novel has always been an ambition for myself, as it is for many others, "There's a book inside everyone" is a phrase often thrown around. Well, if that's the case then my first one must have been hiding somewhere at the back of my colon as it's taken me until I'm 55 to get started.
My early years in policing began as a uniform constable with no idea of what I wanted to specialise in until being first on scene at the murder of a 13 year old girl in Hastings, East Sussex in 1997. It was as a result of being involved in the investigation that I worked with someone who was to be my role model and inspiration for the rest of my career, a female Detective Sergeant who had joined in the 'Life on Mars' days and led by example.
Over the years that followed, I worked on many teams as first a Dc and then a DS myself in three different Forces. To me, the DS was the best rank to be. You were involved in leading the investigation but also were still on the front line to deal with victims, witnesses and suspects.
There is a lot of heartache and trauma in policing, it's not all the glamour of blue lights and sirens seen on TV. Over many years I have had to sit with countless victims of crime, families who have lost loved ones in the most tragic of circumstances and try to assure them that myself and my colleagues would do everything in our power to bring those responsible to justice. Sadly, the system doesn't always work and there are those who walk free from court despite all the efforts of the investigation teams. You never forget any of them, or the victims, and some of us develop a persona to deal with it. I was known for my old style methods and had a reputation of not suffering fools gladly. I als0, apparently, was known for my style of dress and occasional use of profanities (may have been slightly more than occasional) which can be reflected in the picture I was presented with on my retirement. By the way, that's not a police dog in the picture, that's my French Bulldog who would have undoubtedly eaten any evidence if he had ever come with me..
I had made attempts to write a novel several times in the last decade or so but long hours spent at work meant that they always ended up so far on the back burner that they ended up lost. I had worked as an advisor for a couple of scriptwriters on projects and a local crime author of some renown and through many meetings with different people they had all suggested that I put some of my experiences into a book. That was the plan until I started to write it. The problem was, every investigation has real people linked to it, both those still alive or the families of murder victims, and I could not write about the crimes linked to them without bringing it all back for them to live through again.
So we get back to the point of how did my first novel evolve. Well, it has elements of the many people I have worked with over the years, all mixed up to become the characters in the novel. They are all completely fictitious but there is one that is closer to the real person I knew. We worked together for many years and they never failed to make me smile. No matter how dark the subject matter we were dealing with or the situation we were in, they would always be upbeat. Some would call them odd, I prefer quirky.
My first four months of retirement were spent shut away in a spare bedroom tapping away on my laptop, hitting dead ends and re-writes before I handed over the finished draft manuscript to the one person I knew would give me a reasoned critical view as to whether I should try and go any further with it or just walk away with at least the satisfaction that I had managed to get to the end. If my wife had read it and said I was wasting my time then I would have taken it on the chin - well, maybe after a few large glasses of single malt to drown my sorrows and wallow in self pity. But she has encouraged me to push on and so I decided to self publish.
And that's where we are at the moment. The book is with an editor, a cover design is being mocked up and I am heading towards publication, hopefully by October to coincide with the setting and timeframe for the book.
I'll keep you updated with the process........