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Feb 16, 2013

Carol’s ‘Close Up’ with Crime Author Graham Smith!

 

 Carol Bridgestock

 

 

Oh, gosh there is so much I want to know about Graham Smith the author and so, I’m sure, will our readers! Now, where to start mmm…

Psss… before we start I know that Graham has orgainsed a ’Crime & Punishment’ weekend event of writing masterclasses, that is certainly a ‘no brainer’ for writers and authors – you can read more about it here or contact Graham directly. (All his contact details are at the end of the interview).

 

 Author Graham Smith

Hello Graham,

You are a writer of novels and short stories I understand. Tell me, your detectives, are they based on someone you know or are they an amalgam of several influences?

I write gritty fiction filled with twists, turns and surprise endings. My influences come from every book I’ve read. The good books have taught me what works and the bad tells me what doesn’t. Particular influences on my detectives have been outlandish characters such as Gene Hunt, DI Roberta Steel, Reacher, Tom Thorne although every mystery I’ve ever read has been absorbed and now filters into my writing. Authors such as Simon Kernick and Matt Hilton whose books are pace filled adrenaline boosts have also shaped my writing. To me as a writer the most important thing I have to do is make the reader desperate to turn the next page. I named one of my characters after my grandfather and some of Grandad’s traits have surfaced in the character.

 Have you ever co-authored a book?

I have only co-authored once and it was on a short story with Rosalind Smith-Nazilli. We have both released our own stuff both before and after the collaboration. I wouldn’t be averse to co-authoring again in the future but I’m flying solo just now.

 Do you find it easier writing alone or with a co-author?

I loved the experience as I threw down the first draft of the story filled with action and Rosie came along and added depth before editing the story into a better shape. Which means I got to do all the fun stuff, leaving her do the drudge. If you will – I built the house but she came along, did the decorating and furnished my house to make a home.

Must be a man trait that’s what Bob does! ;-)

 Did you harbour childhood fantasies about having a book published or did you have other ambition?

I’d always fancied writing something but becoming an author didn’t feature on my bucket list until I was in my late 30’s.

 What kind of research do you do for your books?

Where possible I visit the places I write about to get a feel for the area. My research assistant (Mr Google) is very helpful and while details are important in a full blown police procedural, the crime thriller author can dispense with detailed analysis of forensics in favour of an over view. I also cheat massively and copy down any relevant pieces from the books of others so I can use their “science” should I need to. Obviously I do not cut and paste this stuff, I just save it as my research should I ever need it.

 Tell me about your short stories did you write short stories before you progressed to novels?

I started off writing a novel a couple of years ago and flapped around half heartedly until a friend give me the kick up the backside I needed to write more often. He also introduced me to short story writing and I flipped between the two for a few months before getting the impetus I’ve needed to concentrate on finishing the second draft of my novel. However there are a bunch of short stories in my head which are demanding to be told.

 Have you ever written anything other than crime?

I’ve only ever written crime but I have looked at it from all angles. Fast paced thrillers, psychological nerve shredders and the odd standard police story mixed up with mystery and of course “what if?” scenarios.

 What is the best piece of advice you’ve ever received and who gave it to you? And what advice do you, in turn, give out to writing hopefuls?

I’ve been lucky enough to speak to many authors and they have all said much the same thing. Read a lot and write regularly to hone your craft.

 Your covers are very distinctive and eye-catching. Did you any input into their design?

I’m very lucky that I have a friend who is a graphic designer and he does my covers after I give him a rough outline of what I want. He never fails to amaze me with his fantastic designs.

 

It’s a heart stopping moment when you see a cover of your novel for the first time isn’t it.

How long does it take you to research and write a book, where do you start?

As I am only writing in the evenings or on days off it can take me a year to write a book with some time spent doing research. My day job as the general manager of a hotel and wedding venue keeps me very busy and I am also a director of a Destination Management Organisation for tourism in Dumfries and Galloway. I’ve also organised a weekend of crime writing master-classes at the hotel I run and I’ve taken on the role of publicist for a crime festival in a local town. Couple all that with a wife and young son, my reviewing for www.crimesqaud.com and the CWA and there isn’t much time left for writing.  More info on these events can be found at www.crimeandpublishment.co.uk and http://www.moffatbooks.co.uk/events.htm

 You’re certainly a busy bee! I don’t know how you have the time to write. Respect! What is the most productive time of the day for you to write?

I can write almost any time of day but I find that late evening when my wife and son have gone to bed is a good time for me. I put the telly on low in the background and pound the keys for a while.

 What’s your favourite nibble whilst you’re writing? Are you a savoury or a sweets guy?

I don’t nibble when I’m writing as I don’t like oily or food coated  fingers anywhere near my laptop and I’m such a messy eater I would surely spill onto my keyboard.

 Do you start your projects writing with paper and pen or is it all on the computer?

I do everything on the computer. I have a spreadsheet for characters with their physical attributes and I have a chapter list which I use to record a two or three line synopsis of each chapter after I’ve written it. Zoë Sharp gave me this tip and it is invaluable to me for editing and recordkeeping purposes as it saves one hell of a lot of scrolling back to find out eye colours or other points I can’t remember.

I do something similar as I use the Modus Operandi sheet that we used in the police force – works a treat!

 What do you draw inspiration from? Is it actual cases?

I draw my inspiration from all kinds of places such as the news, overheard conversations and throwaway lines I’ve heard. I also like to dismantle jokes and reassemble then as a short story. Punch-lines are often good because they come from nowhere and as a writer I love having a twist in the tail of my tales.

 Do you set goals for yourself when you sit down to write such as word count?

I try not to set goals as such and while I do keep an eye on word count I tend to not write unless I have at least an hour to concentrate. In this hour I aim for a minimum of 500 words but I have been known to start writing at 11.00pm with the aim of writing for an hour only to discover it is suddenly 3.00am and I’ve hit over 3,000 words.

 Do you own an eBook reading device? Which do you prefer a paperback or an eReader?

I have a Kobo eReader which I enjoy using and find very convenient. However it will never usurp the love I have for physical books. The feel smell, sight of them will always trump and electronic toy, however good it may be.

My thoughts exactly, how anyone can relax reading an electronic device amazes me!

 Who are some of your favourite authors and what are you reading now?

Authors who climb automatically to the top of Mount To Be Read are Stuart MacBride, Matt Hilton, Lee Child, Peter James, Chris Ewan, Simon Kernick, Mark Billingham. This list could continue until I wear my fingers away on the keyboard.

I’m just about to start reading So Low So High by Pete Sortwell. Pete is an online buddy of mine and a publishing stable mate of yours. SLSH is his debut novel and I’m very excited to be reading it ahead of everyone else. This is one of the best things about being a reviewer. Free books before they are even published.

Great idea Graham! :-)

 Are there any particular writers who have influenced your writing?

Every writer I’ve ever read has influenced me by letting me learn what is good and what is bad about writing. Since I started reviewing I have learned how to dismantle a novel into various components and this knowledge is invaluable to me as a writer.

 What do you think of book trailers?

I don’t tend to pay them much attention to be honest. I think that they may or may not work for some people but I get new books sent to me from publishers all the time. My reading choice is influenced by the words on the book cover. Be they the synopsis on the back or the name on the front that is what I use to select my next read. As a reviewer I NEVER read someone else’s opinion of a book until I have read the book and written my own review as I would not want my own opinion influenced.

 How do you come up with the titles of your books?

I just think about the content and then find an appropriate title. Gutshots: Ten Blows to the Abdomen and Eleven the Hardest Way are short story collections which do exactly what it says on the tin. Harry Charters Chronicles was a no brainer for me as it encapsulates the noir private eye stories of yesteryear which is the subject of that collection.

 Can you tell us a little about what you’re working on now?

I’m working on the second draft of my debut novel which has a working title of “The Ironmonger’s Error”. It is about a middle class couple whose children are kidnapped to force the father to pay his gambling debts. The police are unaware of the kidnapping until halfway through the novel and are pursuing two different spates of thefts.

Sounds great!

 Tell me a little bit of something about you that we haven’t already learned about Graham Smith.

I used to play rugby for South West Scotland Schools and I was in the team the first time SW Scotland beat both the Ayrshire and Borders Teams. I have played darts against Jocky Wilson and Mike Gregory and I once punched Emu on the nose.

Great stuff! :-) I love asking people that question!

 More about Graham and where you can ‘find’ him:-

Graham Smith is married with a young son. A time served joiner he has built bridges, houses, dug drains and slated roofs to make ends meet. For the last eleven years he has been manager of a busy hotel and wedding venue near Gretna Green, Scotland.

 An avid fan of crime fiction since being given one of Enid Blyton’s Famous Five books at the age of eight, he has also been a regular reviewer and interviewer for the well respected review site Crimesquad.com for over three years.

 He has three collections of short stories available as Kindle downloads and has featured in anthologies such as True Brit Grit and Action: Pulse Pounding Tales as well as appearing on several popular ezines. His first collection Eleven the Hardest way has been longlisted for a Spinetingler award.

 He can be found at any of these places on a regular basis

Twitter – @GrahamSmith1972

Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1316200537&ref=tn_tnmn

Blog – http://grahamsmithwriter.blogspot.com/

 Amazon Author Page

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Graham-Smith/e/B006FTIBBU/ref=ntt_athr_dp_pel_1

http://www.amazon.com/Graham-Smith/e/B006FTIBBU/ref=ntt_athr_dp_pel_pop_1

 Goodreads

http://www.goodreads.com/grahamsmith

  

This is the first part of the Harry Charters Chronicles

 

Detecting Malicious Murder

 

This is how it started…

Ignoring the knock on my door, I reached for the bottle of rye. I’d already had too much but the headache making my eyeballs throb wouldn’t treat itself.

‘Either let yourself in or beat it.’ I yelled.

The door creaked its way open to reveal a broad I knew from way back. In fact I’d known her when she was merely narrow. Now she was the broadest broad in the whole damn neighbourhood. She’d kept the pretty face she’d been blessed with although the years were smoothed away by the extra pounds. Five kids in four years had smashed the hourglass figure which had once entranced every man she met.

‘Your ghosts can still find you when you’re inside a bottle.’

‘When I put the bottle inside me I can’t find them. Now why are you here?’

‘I want you to find out if my Bert has been alleycatting it.’

This is what my life had become. Trailing errant husbands and frightening bad debtors. For some years I’d been one of the top private dicks in town. Then a case had ended badly for all concerned. Now I kept company with Jim Beam and Jack Daniels while feeding the habit with the kind of moronic jobs I used to pass to my underlings.

‘Who’s he been walking alongside?’

‘I’m not sure but I think it may be the girl from the garage.’

 

Graham it has been a real pleasure to talk to you today – you’ve been brilliant.

Good luck with the upcoming event – only wish we could make it but we’re 300 miles away. Maybe next year we could try fitting it into our annual book signing tour in the north and staying at the hotel too. :-) I am so looking forward to reading the ‘The Ironmongers Error’ in paperback very soon!

Ta’ra for now,

 Carol x

Titles by Graham Smith

 

 

It’s Thursday! It’s ‘Read’s Ramblings’! Look At Me!

 

 

Janet Read

 

LOOK AT ME

 

Standing tall, feeling small

 

Is that a problem issue?

 

Thin as a latte but feeling fat

 

 As light as a 2 ply tissue.

 

 

 

Don’t eat too much or not enough

 

You need to look your best.

 

Diet and exercise will help you slim

 

But you must do the rest.

 

****************   

Cupcake!

‘Carol’s Close Up’ with newly published author Maggie Jones!

Carol Bridgestock

I am very pleased and proud  to post a ‘Close Up’ today with Maggie Jones.

Maggie was a great  Deputy to me at the ‘Wight Fair Writers Circle’ for nearly five years and so it was with great pleasure that I passed on the role of Chair to her at the end of last year. Maggie is a prolific writer and I am very happy and excited to say she  has just become a published author of short stories!

 Maggie Jones

First of all Maggie, well done you! Short stories are hard to get published and I know you’re as pleased as punch to have two stories now published and one story accepted on alfiedog.com. People can find you on the site through your name can’t they?

Yes, that’s right and they are only 39p so it won’t break the bank.

So come on Maggie tell us all how on earth do you manage to juggle working, writing being a wife and a mother?

I’m a magician :-)  No seriously I somehow find the time during the evenings and at weekends to do my writing.  And my husband, Graeme is great helping out with the housework, and cooking.  My daughters are at an age now where they don’t need too much from me, apart from  an odd  ’taxi’ at four in the morning!

What inspired you to write?

A few things have happened to me in my lifetime, and I found solace in writing about them.  I started off with writing poetry and then progressed to writing short stories and a few novels.

Who do you admire in the literary world?

I know this is where I am supposed to say the literary giants like Keats, Dickens and the Bronte Sisters, but I just love chick flick, and adore reading Sophie Kinsella, Jane Moore, anyone slushy like that.  I’m also a fan of Jackie Collins, her and Jilly Cooper, were my favourite authors when I was at school. I also like Crime & Intrigue, and my favourite writers of that genre are R C Bridgestock!

:-) That’s great news for us! Who do you consider your mentor?

I suppose my mentors would have to be my English teachers.  When I left school, I didn’t achieve much in the way of qualifications, apart from in English.  My teachers encouraged me to read and write.

Where do you work? Do you have a regular pattern or routine?

I work at Ryde Academy as a Science Technician.  I’m lucky in that I only work three days a week, so on my days off, and at the weekends I tend to be sat on the sofa with my little purple laptop doing as much writing as I can.

What are you working on now?

I have recently finished a novel, ‘The London Boys’ and I am trying to find a publisher/literary agent for it.  Also I have been working on a lot of short stories that I have written over the years, whilst thinking of  new ideas for some  short stories to send to my publisher at Alfie Dog, an e-book publisher, www.alfiedog.com

Share something with me that nobody else knows about you?

I got married  in a registry office, and I just brought an ordinary dress, nothing special.  But the one thing I would love to do, even now, is go into a bridal shop and try on something white and floaty.  Even at my age.

Who do you like sharing a cup of coffee and a natter with?

I like catching up with colleagues from a school  I worked at on the island before it closed.  A lot of them retired, but one of them went to France and set up a camping businesses.  She was on ITV last year on a programme called ‘Little England’. We all got on so well, just like one big happy family, and I miss working with them now. 

 How do you relax?

I like going for  long walks or reading a good book.  I also like sitting on the sofa with my laptop, and watching the telly whilst typing away.  I especially like watching old black and white movies, much to my children’s horror.  They remind me of happy times when I watched them with my Nan. 

What would you do if you won the lottery, what would you spend it on?

I would spend it on my wonderful family, making sure that my girls had a house each.  Also that Graeme got that motorbike that he yearns for, and I would also see my sisters were looked after.  And friends, who are like family to me too, I would make sure that they were alright for the future.

Are you a savoury or sweets girl?

I am definitely a savoury girl.  Any crisps, cheese biscuits, cheese straws, cheddars, etc you get the picture!

What do you have in your handbag right now?

This question took me an hour and half to answer, as by the time I had emptied my bag and looked at all my rubbish, I meant all my wonderful things, that’s how much time had passed.  I have a purse, keys, (car, house, work,) hairbrush, driving licence, makeup, receipts, tissues, two pairs of reading glasses, one pair of sunglasses, cheque book, credit cards, mobile phone, sore throat sweets, inhalers, hand cream and my diary.

What’s your earliest memory?

When I was aged four, upstairs in bed one evening, my dad came home from my Nan’s shop with some ice cream.  He shouted at me and my sisters to get up and come downstairs and have some.

What has been your favourite year and why?

I have quite a few favourite years, but I think the best year for me was 1987 when I married Graeme.  I can’t believe we have been married for over 25 years!  The time has simply flown by, he is my best friend.

What’s your favourite smell?

My favourite smell is Lilly of the valley.  It reminds me of my Nan who used to wear the perfume.  And Mrs Foord, who lived over the road from us, grew them, and always picked a bunch for me for my birthday, as they only come out at that time of year, being a spring flower.

What was the last thing you laughed/cried at?

I cry at sad films…  My daughter and I went to see ‘Les Mis’ last week, and at the end of it she asked if I liked it.  I loved it, but was so choked up, could only nod at her.  As a family we are always laughing and joking with one another and taking the mickey out of each other, but in a fun way.

What’s the best advice you’ve been given or best advice you’d give?

The best advice I would give about writing is believe in yourself and what you are writing.  Go with your gut instinct. 

And another bit advice I would give is in winter, if you are going to wear a vest, wear big girl’s knickers and then you can tuck your vest into them.  This will keep your back nice and toastie! 

What’s your favourite book/Film as a child/adult?

My favourite book(s) are Jackie Collins, The Lucky books.  I absolutely loved reading them when I was at school.  I have so many favourite films, but as a child I used to love musicals and going to the pictures with my Nan to watch them.  I think my favourite film as a child was ‘Hello Dolly.’  One of my favourite films I love now and only watched a little while ago is ‘It’s a wonderful life,’ with James Stewart.

Where can people contact you Maggie?

I am on facebook and linkedIn as Maggie Jones

Thanks Maggie for speaking to me today. Good luck with your writing for you work so hard you  fully deserve your success.

C x

 

 

 

Carol’s ‘Close Up’ today with Author Geraldine Evans!

Carol Bridgestock

I am so lucky today to get the chance to interview the prolific author Geraldine Evans! Let’s see how it’s done shall we?

Geraldine has had twenty novels published–seventeen crime, one contemporary women/suspense, one historical and one romance. She has been plucked from slush piles twice: once by Robert Hale, and once by Macmillan, who took her very first mystery novel, DEAD BEFORE MORNING, and published it in 1993. They sold it in turn to St Martin’s Press in the US and thence on to Worldwide for softcover publication. Not bad for a writer who had endured six long years of rejections for her first six novels. But, admittedly, they had been romances.

 

 

Geraldine Evans

Hello Geraldine! Thank you for agreeing to let our readers to get to know you a little. I am so excited about this interview as I know you also give help and advice to writers too.

What inspired you to write a novel?

Hatred of  the dead-end day jobs. I needed something creatively fulfilling in my life. I’d always been a keen reader, so it seemed as natural as breathing that I’d one day try my hand at writing. Like Colin Dexter, the author of Morse, who one day, during a wet weekend in Wales, read a crime novel that was so bad he thought he could do better. And he did, didn’t he? Well, I had a similar experience, though not until I’d spent years trying to write a romantic novel suitable for the Mills & Boon market. I failed miserably, though Land of Dreams, the last of the six failures, was taken from Robert Hale’s slush pile and published (1991). But then they rejected my next romance.

What’s a girl to do? I felt pretty murderous, so turning to crime seemed the obvious thing. What a difference from my experience of writing romances. Because Dead Before Morning, that very first mystery and the first in my now 15-strong Rafferty & Llewellyn humorous police procedural series, was yet another slush pile pluck. Macmillan published it in 1993. They sold it to St Martin’s Press in the US, who then sold it on to Worldwide for paperback publication.

Who do you admire in the literary world? Who do you consider your mentor?

I don’t know that I consider anyone my mentor. Like a lot of new writers, I struggled on alone while the rejections piled up. I felt unsupported for so long in the literary world. Perhaps if I’d been a middle-class woman, the support would have been there. And the education! Mine was pretty basic and ended at sixteen.

As for who I admire, the writers who come under this banner are the crime writers who can make me laugh while they’re killing people. Like Shakespeare, I do like a bit of comedy amidst the tragedy! So, I have  to say that I admire the late Reginald Hill. Love his Andy Dalziel. That man is so real you can practically smell him! The other writers who have my admiration are Ruth Dudley Edwards, Cynthia Harrod Eagles and Christopher Brookmyre. Amongst American writers, I like Lawrence Block, Sue Grafton and Janet Evanovitch. If I’m talking about crime novels  that don’t go for the funny bone, I have to say a certain pair of writers called  R C Bridgestock (!), Val McDermid, Mark Billingham, P D James, Ruth Rendell (but only her Wexford novels. Didn’t take to her psychological ones), Dorothy Simpson, June Thomson and Margaret Yorke. I also love historicals and adore the novels of Sharon Penman, Jean Plaidy and Philippa Gregory.

 

Where do you work? Do you have a regular pattern or routine or other?

I used to work in my little office upstairs. But then, when my stepson gave me a second-hand laptop, I moved downstairs (nearer the kettle and the loo). So, as you can imagine, my living room looks a bit of a shambles! Yes, I have a regular pattern. I try to write every day, even if it’s only emails, my blog or comments on some other writer’s blog. At the moment, I’m still concentrating on getting my backlist professionally e-formatted, proofed and uploaded  to Kindle and Smashwords. This has taken some time and my ‘Work in Progress’ (so-called. It’s not ‘progressing’ at all), has had to sit on the back burner for some weeks; a situation compounded by problems with my website. None of my links wanted  to go where they were meant to, but instead went wherever they damn well liked! Nightmare. I was unable to fix the problem and eventually, I knew I had no choice but to abandon my oh-so-carefully created and maintained website of nine years’ standing and hire a professional web site designer.

What are you working on now?

I’m trying to pen another couple of talks. At the moment, I’ve only got one half-hour talk to my name. It was starting to feel lonely, and over-used, hence the attempt to provide it with some company. I’m also still proofing the e-formatting of more of my backlist. Between these two, there doesn’t seem to be a lot of time left for anything else. I’ve really been burning the midnight oil lately, trying to get on top of everything, so I can do what I’m meant to be doing and actually write crime novels. My email inbox is currently up to 1,500 (and counting). A lot of it is tiresome crap. But it still takes time to wade through and delete. I can’t seem to get on top of it at all.

Share something with us that nobody else knows about you.

Ha! Ha! I love the smell of tar and creosote. Better than any perfume. My day is made if I come across some road-works. The hunky men are just a bonus.

Who would you like to share a cup of coffee and a natter with?     

I’d love to meet you and Bob. Watch out. I might just descend on you one day!  As for who I actually do share a coffee with, that would be Chrissie, the neighbour a few doors down, who runs a B and B. We also go out to lunch regularly and go dancing. Altogether, a fun lady.

Oh, bless you! I’m sure one day very soon we will meet in person. :-)

How do you relax?

I’m not one of those people who can just sit and stare into space. I need to do something. Reading’s my usual way to relax. Or watching Mama Mia for the umpteenth time. That’s such a ‘feel good’ film. I love it.

If you won the lottery what would you spend it on?

I  was brought up poor, on a south London Council estate, so I have sympathy for the underdog. I certainly wouldn’t need or want all of the millions. So I’d perhaps divide it and give one half to good causes, not necessarily through licensed charities who often seem to pay their top brass quite extraordinary salaries. Then, I’d give generous hand outs to mine and my late husband’s family. And I  suppose (after having a major spending spree) I’d probably invest the rest. Very boring, I know. Very sensible. Not like the ‘Spend! Spend! Spend! lady.

Are you a savoury or sweets girl?

I’m both. I love mature Cheddar, thin, buttered crackers and silverskin pickled onions. But I’m also a Chocaholic. It’s a good job Chrissie has signed this couch potato up for a local social club, so I do a bit of bopping and get some exercise, or God knows how big I’d become.

What’s your earliest memory?

I’ve got a couple, actually. One is of standing on a box so I could wash the dishes. I’d have been about four. And the other is of me, when I was about five. It was Christmas and I had my first umbrella as a present. It was sunshine yellow and I loved it to bits. Unfortunately, no one had explained to me that it was necessary to put the umbrella down when you went through a door (we had an outside toilet at the time) and my brand new, lovely yellow brolly, broke in the door. I was devastated. Something like that is a major tragedy at five.

What has been your favourite year and why?

It was being ten. Before the painful transition into womanhood began. Before we moved house. Before a lot of things. I was carefree. Only interested in playing games of chase, and marbles and French skipping. It was such an innocent time to be ten. I don’t envy youngsters now, with the pressure on them to be sexual beings. God, my eldest brother was still playing with Meccano when he was fifteen. Such innocent times. I often think my generation was the lucky generation. We were born at a time and young at a time when teenagers had just been ‘invented’! We had the best music. Great fashions. And then you could fall out of a job one week and fall into another the next. And we could actually afford to buy a house without placing ourselves impossibly in hock. And those who had the inclination to go to university were actually paid Grants to do so. Not like nowadays where youngsters have to take on a debt larger than our first mortgage.

What was the last thing you laughed & cried at?

I’m quite a happy person, so I laugh a lot. I laugh easily. I don’t cry easily. I didn’t cry at my darling husband’s funeral. I’ve never been a crier. So the last time I laughed was today (Saturday), when I went dancing with my neighbour’s friend. Great band. Great atmosphere. Cheap drinks (it’s a social club). What more do you want? I had a fab time and laughed a lot at probably quite inconsequential things.

What’s the best advice you’ve been given or best advice you’d give?

They’re the same. Go the ebook route. It’s been a far better earner for me than the traditional publishing one. Now I can afford to go on holiday. Now I can afford to go to writers’ conferences. Now, I can afford all sorts of things, that I never could before. Okay, the vast majority of my income comes from Amazon, which makes me uneasy. I don’t like having all my eggs in one basket. Of course, I still get royalties from my ex-publisher, as they’ve brought out one of my crime novels as an ebook. And hopefully, will bring out the other two to which they hold the rights as ebooks also. And my earnings through Smashwords are slowly rising as they distribute to Barnes and Noble, Apple and Kobo, etc. And, with Amazon, I get 70% of the sale price of each book (as long as it’s priced between $2.99 and $9.99). All my ex-publisher was offering was 25%, which I gather is pretty common. No contest! So I decided  to part company with my then publisher and go the Indie route. I haven’t regretted it.

What’s your favourite book/film as a child/adult?

I used to love Enid Blyton’s Famous Five. And I liked Tugboat Annie on the television and William Tell. I wasn’t allowed to go to the cinema (though my siblings were. I was the baby of the family). My mother wouldn’t let me go. She said it would ruin my eyesight! Actually, it was getting measles very badly that ruined my eyesight. As an adult, I’m a Harrison Ford fan and loved Frantic and Airforce One. Oh, and I also loved Dirty Dancing. (And Mama Mia, of course). Books, I’ve loved: Sharon Penman’s The Sunne in Splendour. Fabulous book set in the Fifteenth century about the period of the Wars of the Roses. That book still resonates with me. And St Thomas’ Eve by Jean Plaidy, about St Thomas More. The crime novel I still remember vividly is Christopher Brookmyer’s Quite Ugly, One Morning. Oh, how that book made me laugh. Terrific. Heartily recommend all of them.

Who was the most famous person you have worked with and what were they really like?

I don’t actually know any famous people. Until I went the epublishing route, I couldn’t afford to go anywhere. Though I am Twitter friends with Val McDermid, Ruth Dudley Edwards, Mark Billingham. And you and Bob. :-)

Do you think doing the work you did has an impact on what you write and how you write it?

Undoubtedly. As does my working-class background. I couldn’t imagine writing about an educated, middle-class, copper, not ever having lived that lifestyle. That’s why I invented DI Joe Rafferty. I wanted a main character who reflected the reality of the average Joe. Most police officers are still working-class and far from over-educated. I wanted to depict that.

The prized possession valued above all others?

I don’t know if you’d call it a ‘possession’. But I have to say it’s my ability to persist in the face of rejection. It’s that ability that brought me up and enabled me to get twenty novels published (though, admittedly, the last two, Kith and Kill, my fifteenth in the Rafferty series and The Egg Factory, a standalone Contemporary/Suspense novel set in the world of the infertile, I published myself).

The unqualified regret you wish you could amend?

Not realising how important education is. Though, of course, it’s never too late to amend that and, periodically, I have stabs at it. I was a late developer and far more interested in winning Jimmy Smith’s fourer marble  than I was in passing tests, hence the 11+ failure and the Secondary Modern ‘education’ (sic). But I’ve spent my life educating myself. At the moment, I’m re-learning the keyboards, which I originally taught myself about fifteen years ago and let slide. This time I’ve got myself a music teacher. I’m also having a refresher course in driving as I became horribly rusty and lacking in confidence. It’s going well, I’m pleased to say.

The way you would spend your fantasy 24hrs, with no restrictions?

I’d have a pied-ā-terre in London and Paris. And go to see all the shows I’ve never seen. The Mousetrap and Cats and Les Miserables. All of them. And I’d have tea at The Ritz. And an after theatre dinner at The Ivy. With Harrison Ford. And then we’d retire to the plush suite with the four-poster and hot and cold waiter service. And then we’d make mad, passionate love. Hope Harrison is up for it…! Not to mention up to it (as he’s no spring chicken).

Les Mis is our absolute favourite show Geraldine if you haven’t seen it, it’s a must!

The temptation you wish you could resist.

Eating a whole bar of chocolate. I really pig out and am unable to just have a few squares.

The priority activity if you were the invisible woman for a day.

I’d love to sit in on a Cabinet meeting. Just to learn what they talk about and how on earth they come to the decisions they do. Because some of them are unfathomable. I just heard today that they want to scrap The Red Arrows. But what prestige they give our country. God knows, as a nation, we have less and less to be proud of. We invariably feature at the bottom of any European survey. But The Red Arrows are something to make our chests swell. They’re an institution and someone told me they’ve been going since the mid-sixties. It would be criminal to destroy that.

Absolutely! What’s the pet hate that makes your hackles rise?

Idle people who waste their lives living on the State (ie me, the taxpayer). Do they think life’s a rehearsal? To me, life is a precious gift. Not something to be squandered. I tend not to read articles about them and their twenty kids and the outrageous income and accommodation the state provides any more, as it just infuriates me. Not good for the blood pressure. Especially as I can’t do anything about it.

Who is the person who has influenced you the most?

I’m not conscious of any influence. When I came up with the working-class DI Joe Rafferty, I was ploughing my own furrow. Like Frank Sinatra, I did it My Way.

And the figure from history that you’d like to buy a pie and a pint?

There’s so many. But, I think I’d have to plump for Guy Fawkes. I so admire people who take up a worthy cause and pursue it to the bitter end, no matter what the possible consequences. The courage required is awesome.

What is the piece of wisdom you would pass onto a child?

Treat others as you wish to be treated. Such consideration will take you far and make you friends. And we all need friends. And anything worth doing is worth persisting at ‘till you get it right.

Funnily enough that is Bob’s mantra too…

The unlikely interest that engages you curiosity?

Painting. I love doing portraiture. I’m good at getting a likeness, but hopeless at applying the paint. I’m self-taught, you see. But the local Community Centre has advertised art lessons and I’m going to sign up.

Good for you! That sounds amazing. There are so many courses at the local college if only we take the time to seek them out. That’s where we did our ‘Write Your First Novel,’ course.

What is the treasured item you lost and wish you could have again?

My green leather handbag. It was stolen at Streatham ice rink.

The unending quest that drives you on?

To get better at what I do. And to stop ‘telling’, rather than ‘showing’. I’ve been told (by one of my Amazon reviewers), that I’m way too keen on that. And until only the other day, I didn’t know my ‘em’ dash from my ‘en’ dash. Didn’t even know they had names. At school, I was taught about a verb being a ‘doing’ word and nouns being ‘names’. That was about it as far as grammar and sentence construction went.

Which poem touches your soul?

It would have to be the one that goes: ‘…a corner of a foreign field that is forever England.’ I might have got the quote wrong – I haven’t had anything  to do with poetry since I was at school (though the other evening, my writers’ group had a local poet, Phil Barrett, give us a talk, and it was so interesting. An absolute revelation. I didn’t know you could write poetry about everyday things. It was an absolutely marvellous evening and had me sufficiently stimulated to consider ordering the work of some of the poets Phil recommended.

The misapprehension about yourself that you wish you could erase?

I don’t know that there is any misapprehension. Why? What’s the gossip? What have you heard about me?!

Ha ha! No, I’ve never heard any gossip about you Geraldine… but perhaps there is time yet! ;-)

The event that altered the course of your life?

Getting published for the first time. It confirmed for me that I ‘Could do it.’

I agree wholeheartedly. The feeling that someone loves your work as much as you is one to behold.

If you could commit a crime and know you would get away with it what would it be?

I’d probably do a Robin Hood and rob from the rich and give it to the (deserving) poor.

What is the song that means the most to you?

I love sixties’ music. And I love Abba. Sorry. Can’t decide. But somehow, YMCA became me and my late husband’s ‘song’. Can’t remember how that happened!

The happiest moment you cherish?

Going for the first Brighton ‘Dirty Weekend’ with George, my late husband. We had such fun.

How lovely…

The unfulfilled ambition that continues to haunt you?

I want to play keyboards like a professional. I’m currently taking lessons. I’ve advanced as far as chord G7. Long way to go yet.

I always wanted to play the piano … my grandad was said to beable to play by ear and the whole of the street used to open their windows on a Sunday morning to hear him play. I tried but my left hand doesn’t ever seem to work with my right! Took me ages to learn the keyboard skill.

What is the  philosophy that underpins your world?

Be kind. And generous. And encouraging. It’s a hard world out there, but we can make life a little easier for each other by caring and showing consideration.

How would you like to be remembered Geraldine?

By God, she tried! She gave it her all. I don’t want to get to my death-bed and have regrets for all the  things I didn’t do.

Bless you! Come on now tell me about your novels as I’m sure this interview has won you many a reader.

If you like crime novels with a few laughs, you might enjoy mine. DI Joe Rafferty comes from a family who think – if he must be a copper – he might at least have the decency to be a bent one. And when you add the educated, middle-class, more moral than the Pope, DS Dafyd Llewellyn… Consequently, my 15-strong Rafferty & Llewellyn police procedurals give poor Rafferty plenty of angst and the rest of us plenty of laughs as he wends his way through the mires his family create, at the same time as trying to solve murders.

And the links to read more about Geradine Evans and her work are here:-

Blog and Website: http://www.geraldineevans.com

Amazon.co.uk: http://amzn.to/120xu2b

Amazon.com: http://amzn.to/X3xCIj

Barnes & Noble: http://bit.ly/Vishgx

Kobo: http://bit.ly/112vt86

Apple’s iBookstore: http://bit.ly/Wse8B1

Diesel: http://bit.ly/123MePA

Thanks Geraldine you’ve been terrific and I can’t wait to share that drink with you!

C x

 

 

Carol’s ‘Close Up’ with Crime Fiction Author Michael Fowler!

 Carol Bridgestock

 

Today, I have the great pleasure to welcome Michael Fowler a member of our ‘police family’, who like us on retirement from the Police Force grabbed ‘freedom’ with both hands. Nowadays Michael spends his time in his studio writing and painting. Come along with me and find out more about  this very talented man…

 Michael Fowler signing copies of his books!

Michaeal what inspired you to write a novel?

The enjoyment and experience from my previous work as a police officer is the inspiration behind my writing.  But also I am an avid fan of crime fiction and there have been many times when I have wondered if I could write a crime novel myself.

Who do you admire in the literary world? Who do you consider your mentor?

In 1995 I earned my first publishing contract when Wharnecliffe Publishing, of Barnsley, published an account of my childhood experiences of growing up in my home town of Mexborough. I there met Editor Alan Twiddle, who gave me some wonderful guidance and advice on how to develop my writing.  When I retired, and began writing my first crime novel, Alan took time out to read the first draft, and at no expense, pointed out where changes were required to develop the book to enable me to pitch to publishers.  He also gave me additional advice on how to continue with the crafting ofmy writing, and how to make my plots stronger and more exciting. His guidance has been invaluable and his kindness much appreciated.

Where do you work? Do you have a regular pattern or routine or other? … Hey up! Two questions at once that wouldn’t be allowed in an interview would it Michael? Sorry, call it excitement… :-)

I have a studio, a ten minute drive away from home, where I paint and write, and at home I have converted a bedroom into a study.  On almost a daily basis, I begin my day by walking the dog, in the fields at the back of my home, using the time to mull over the development of my painting or writing piece for that day.  I then work for between 4-5 hours, until mid-afternoon, when I walk the dog again, and reflect on what I have written or painted and go through a mental editing process. 

What are you working on now?

In terms of writing, I am half-way through book number four in the DS Hunter Kerr series.  In each of the former novels I have alluded to the fact that he became a cop, after his first love was murdered, and he realised that his only path to finding out who killed her was to become a detective.  Despite years of investigating he has never tracked down who murdered her. In this novel he finally uncovers her killer.

In this story I also introduce DS Scarlett Macey (a female detective with the Metropolitan Police), and I feel I have created such a strong, quirky character, that she deserves a series of her own.  I have therefore drafted out a plotline ready for her first outing in 2015.  (You have heard this here first)

Come on we’re ‘family’  … Good interview technique eh Michael? :-) Share something with us that nobody else knows about you?

To set the background to this tale I need to introduce some back-story.  The police force I joined in 1976 was totally different to the one of today. Especially, it wasn’t politically correct or sensitive, and on a constant basis someone was always pulling or trick, or ‘spoof’, as they were referred to, against an individual or a group. They were always harmless fun and without doubt they eased the pressures of the job.  In fact, some of the ‘spoofs’ that I witnessed were so hilarious that they would have easily graced the TV series ‘Candid Camera’.

In 1982, at the age of 22, I passed my police exams to qualify for the rank of Sergeant and Inspector.  At the time I was working in plain clothes and so to gain some experience, with a view to going before a promotion board, I returned back into uniform to ‘act up’ in the rank of Sergeant.  One day, whilst on afternoons, I went into work and found an A4 envelope in my ‘in’ tray.  Inside the envelope was a memo purporting to be from the Chief Constable, together with an armband which had on it two stripes.  The memo explained that these should be worn by those in the acting rank, especially when in the public eye. That day I had a planned meeting with fire-brigade officials and the local councillor.  I sat in that meeting for an hour-and-a-half, wearing a set of Boys Brigade Corporal Stripes, wondering why so many people kept looking in on the meeting.

Who would you like to share a cup of coffee and a natter with?

Billy Connolly – not just a funny guy, but also an interesting person, that I would to love to share some stories with.

Most police officers seem to find it hard to relax but everyone appears to have their own little routine. How did/do you relax?

Relaxation for me is in two stages.  The first stage is rigorous exercise. I generally wind down, either by a visit to the gym, pool, or by going for a run.  This is something I’ve always done since a teenager.  Stage two takes place in the evening time, either by watching TV, or going out for a meal with Liz, my wife, where we ‘catch up’ and reminisce. 

If you won the lottery what would you spend it on?

I’d buy a big house with pool, gym and cinema room, and make sure my two lads were set for life.  Then I’d treat family and close friends.

Are you a savoury or sweets guy?

Savoury.

What’s your earliest memory?

Sitting at the table with my Mum, drawing.

What has been your favourite year and why?

2006 – when I retired from the police.  Not because I hadn’t enjoyed that job, but I always wanted to be an artist and family circumstances meant that I couldn’t pursue that career.  It was my opportunity to do what I had always wanted to do. 

What was the last thing you cried at?

The week leading up to Christmas 2012 I watched ‘It’s a Wonderful Life’ (again) – I always shed a tear of joy every time I watch it.

What’s the best advice you’ve been given or best advice you’d give?

In terms of writing, an editor friend, Alan Twiddle, told me to read twelve different writers of the genre I was writing and follow carefully how each of them draft their prose.  I now read novels differently.  I always pass on this same advice to would-be-writers.

What’s your favourite film?

Favourite film – It’s a Wonderful Life.  It reinforces how fortunate we are to be given life, and how much we should embrace and cherish it, no matter what.

Who was the most famous person you have worked with and what were they really like?

David Curtis is one of Britain’s foremost artists.  I met him fifteen years ago at a painting venue and instantly hit it off with him.  Since then he has spent so much time passing on tips and guiding me on how to paint professionally.  He has introduced me to so many professional artists, and also encouraged and supported me when I have submitted work to the Mall Galleries ‘Royal’ exhibitions.  We remain good friends and paint together whenever we can.

Do you think doing the work you did has an impact on what you write and how you write it?

Without doubt the experiences I gained as a police officer, especially as a detective, have been a big influence on my story-telling as a crime-writer.

 Lovely to chat to you Michael. Good luck with the novels and Bob and I are looking forward to catching up with you when we next head north! I know Bob is particularly keen to share ‘war’ stories with you.

Here are links to Michael’s website and images of his published books by Caffeine Nights Publishers.

http://www.mjfowler.co.uk/

     

Other publications by Michael Fowler:-

      

 

 

Interview with Crime Author Bob Bridgestock – Could have been the only butcher with exploding pork pies?

Bob, my husband, my co-author, my best friend Bob Bridgestock. This interview is probably one of the most difficult that I have done. Why? Because I know him so well – well at least he can’t fib! ;-) I know what makes him tick; well you would after twenty years of marriage wouldn’t you? Loving him as I do I wanted to help Dylan readers get to know him too for in ‘getting to know’ Bob you will have the basis of our character DI Jack Dylan. One of the hardest things to do as a couple who write together, for me anyway, has been learning to tease out of Bob his deep seated emotions. Our readers are all aware, or I think they are now, that Dylan is loosely based on Bob and Jen on me – and I reiterate ‘loosely’!  Primarily this is so that we can give you the thoughts, feelings and sights from our experience of time within the police force and as husband and wife. Bob’s work meant that he dealt with man’s inhumanity to man daily from behind the ‘mask of the detective’ to get him to drop that mask has been very hard. ‘Let your feelings get in the way at a major incident scene and subsequently the investigation and you’re no good to the team,’ he says.

  Bob at the scene of a murder.

 Bob infront of the world media.

So when it came to writing the feelings of Dylan for our novels they had to be, sometimes unwillingly brought to the fore. We have laughed out loud, cried and reminisced about those who are no longer with us on our pathway to becoming authors and we continue to do so with every novel we write. Obviously Dylan and Jen’s story is not ‘our lives’, we add the drama, but the stories are written from the head and our hearts of ones who have been there and from Bob’s point of view seen it all.

 

Bob Bridgestock

Bob, you joined the police force when yow were 21yrs old but what were you doing before that?

I passed my 11+ and went to Grammar School, excelling only in running the mile and the half mile events and representing the school in the cross country though. I suffered badly all through primary school with severe migraines and as a youngster regularly passed out – much to the annoyance of my teachers. The Doctor’s explanation for this, at the time, was no treatment – I’d grow out of it! Fortunately I did. I left school at the age of 15, prior to taking any exams. The reason being I’d worked in a local butchers shop on a Saturday and was offered a five-year apprenticeship which at that time was not to be missed. I took up the offer and five years later became a fully qualified butcher. By this time I had started smoking and the running had stopped. The smoking however, didn’t stop until a lot later in life when I met Carol.

Back then you could buy one cigarette from the shop immediately outside the school gates. I wonder what profit they made on a packet of 20? They certainly sold a lot and no doubt fuelled my generations addiction.

 Bob as a youngster! His first involvement with the police was when his brother took detornators from a trainline. Admitting his crime to his Dad and giving one of them to Bob, telling him that it was a watch, the police came to get him out of school. Bob had thrown it away – he wasn’t that stupid to think it was a time piece even at the age of seven. This ended with a trip in a police car to find it and a clip around the ear from the police officer and his Dad – if only police officers still had that power today!

From a Butcher to  Policeman – quite a contrast. How did that happen then?

Yes it is, but having enjoyed the work and qualified as a butcher, the job didn’t give me the work satisfaction I was looking for. I was bored and skint. I guess a way forward would have been to start my own business, but loans at that time weren’t readily available, so I decided it was time for a change.

However, during my Butcher training came my second ‘run in’ with the police. One evening as I was travelling home on a bus from college, the bus stopped. An officer got on and pointed to me. ‘You, off,’ he demanded. The bus went on it’s way. Is that blood on that smock under your arm?’ asked the police officer. Bob nodded. ‘Yes, officer.’ he said. ‘Why? How’d it get there?’ ’Well the smock’s a butchers so I guess I thought that gave it away?’ said Bob. ‘Less of your cheek,’ said the officer giving him a clip around the ear. ‘Remember to put it in a plastic bag next time.’ Not only had he spent all the money Bob had on his bus fare but he had to walk the six miles home.  

I got a job at a local Dyeworks, tripling my wage overnight, but after sporting whatever colour we were using at the time as my hair colour for two years, I was more than ready to move on…

 A proud officer in uniform.

So the police service. The words on your long service certificate shows that you did thirty years of service retiring thereafter after having a distinguished and exemplary career during which you received numerous awards and commendation for outstanding work from high court judges to chief constables. What perhaps a lot of people don’t know is that you were also a hostage negotiator for terrorism, kidnap, extortion and suicide intervention. You were always busy but do you have any highs and lows in that job that you can tell us about that stand out for you during that time?

 Bob in his ‘Sweeney’ CID days.

I worked as a detective at every rank, learning my trade from the best. Ultimately I became ‘the’ man in charge of major investigations. A job I set my heart on when entering the Criminal Investigation Department.

The high and low I guess is that I am lucky to have survived the job. It’s not easy being a police officer in any era. I was fortunate.  I attended hospital on quite a few occasions after being attacked but thankfully I was not disabled or killed like some of my colleagues.

It makes me sad that my parents didn’t live beyond their sixtieth birthday to see how I turned out and the results I had in the major incidents I took charge of in the latter years of my service. In the last three years alone I took charge of twenty six murder enquiries, twenty four major incidents, which included drive by shootings, attempt murders, rapes etc. over fifty suspicious deaths and numerous sexual assaults. The only reason I know these figures is that the four Senior Investigating Officers, of which I was one of in the fourth largest police force in England, had to complete monthly returns for Headquarters to account for our working hours. The accounting was the last thing we all needed as the figures did show we were overworked, overwhelmed and the last thing we needed was further stress by having to account for our working hours. Personally the amount of work I was doing was brought home to me the day I was giving evidence in three different murder trials, on the same date, in the same Crown Court. Even the  high court judges remarked on it.

You’ve had an interesting and demanding career. Was writing something that you always intended to do when you retired?

I get asked that question all the time. If I’d kept notes throughout my career in readiness to start writing I’d never have got any work done. The answer to that question is a most definite no.  Even if I had, had the foresight I wouldn’t have had the time. When a job breaks you run with it and that means 24/7 and when its relatively quiet their is the paperwork, the knocking on doors for statements. The court cases. It was suggested that I write a factual novel about the murders I took charge of in the first instance, but that is something I would never consider. My thoughts and support has always been and always will be with the victim of crime and their families. The horrific nature of the incidents, are continuously brought to the fore by the media. I would never add to the family’s ongoing trauma, it’s them that serve a life sentence.

Having left the Police service and moved away from the area to avoid being roped back into the lifestyle on retirement, Carol and I set up home in the South of England, far from the maddening crowds and with no necessity to carry pagers and mobiles – bliss! It was four years later after renovating our home and getting to know our local community that the ‘writing bug’ started, after numerous people on hearing my life story said, ‘You should write a book.’

  ‘Write a book? You must be joking.’ That was a challenge that would be put in the ‘too difficult drawer’ for a long time in. However, in my life fate seems to lend a hand in things that are meant to be and to my disbelief in the weekly Isle of Wight Country Press an advert was published for the local college which read, ‘Write your first novel’.  I enrolled both of us on impulse. Getting me to write a book was something Carol had always wanted me to do, more of an autobiography for the grand children though because of my ’intresting’ life. I don’t think for one minute she or I thought we would become husband and wife authors of crime fiction. This was though the start of our writing career and where the very first draft of Deadly Focus was written – in long hand. We still have that copy in the cupboard today. How do you write together we’re often asked? We are a bit like the tortoise and the hare. I set off at pace and write the story from start to finish usually around 60, to 70,000. Carol then goes through it, trashing some parts, develops the characters and adds the scenes, the drama and emotion. We then sit down together and work through every sentence, until we are satisfied that every word is relevant and moves the story forward. Then and only then do we forward it to our publisher for the professional edit.

We write daily, seven days a week and promote our books through social media, talks about our police careers and our writing, where all proceeds go to the Earl Mountbatten Hospice, a charity very close to our hearts. Whilst writing I have a tendency not to read, especially crime novels, so I don’t become distracted or influenced by their storylines. I write from the heart and with personal experience introduced throughout the novel. Carol reads but only the classics – she too finds reading especially the same genre too distracting.

It was awesome to hear our first book in the DI Dylan series, ‘Deadly Focus’ in the audiobook format. The full version covered by Electric Breeze Audio read by Paul Ansdell is fantastic, if you haven’t heard it you can listen to two chapters free of charge by going to Caffeine Nights Publishers website www.caffeine-nights.com

Share something with me which others may not know…

In a subjective exam, whilst studying to be a butcher one of the questions was, ‘How should gelatine be handled?’ I’m sure the examiner is still laughing at my answer today. I misread it to read; ‘How should gelignite be handled.’ I could have been the first butcher with exploding pork pies!!!

Who would you like to share a cuppa with and what would it be?

I am a caffeine addict, always have been and always will be. It kept me going through the long working hours. Even our publisher’s are called Caffeine Nights! It must have been fate!

It may sound cheesy but it has to be Carol. We spend all our time together and never get bored with each other’s company. She makes great coffee, although she prefers tea…

Good answer! ;-) Tell our readers how you relax?

We have two English Springer Spaniels, Belle and Vegas who is one of her five pups that we bred six year ago. Walking them twice a day, in all weathers across the fields that run out the back of our house or on the beach which is a stone’s throw away is a great way of relaxing for us both, and if we have to trip off the island Carol’s mum and dad, who live in our annexe look after them for us.

What would you spend  lottery win on?

Securing financial stability for all the family and then giving some to deserving charities of which there are many.

A big diamond doesn’t come into the equation then???? Favourite nibble/food?

Not really a nibble but bacon features at the top of my list of favourite foods. When I’m writing I chew away on Mr Men sweets and Haribo Gummy sweets or Midget Gems.

Do you listen to music or does your working evnvironment have to be silent?

It depends at what stage I’, at with the manuscript. As I start I like silence with limited interruptions, but as the chapters progress and the story flows at pace then I like the background music, the thinking at this stage for me is less intense. I guess I’m lucky in that respect as my part in each novel is running an ‘actual’ enquiry and the road you take with each Dylan book is how it really happens, with all my feelings and thoughts and what I would see and hear. As far as police procedure goes you can’t get it more accurate and I check out with my contacts all the up to date policies and computer systems. I have lived through numerous enquiries with their twists and turns, so I use that experience to tell our fictional stories.

What do you carry in your pocket?

A wallet and a handkerchief.

What are your pet hates?

People who have no respect for others – the takers in life.

People who drive whilst using the mobile phones.

I’m afraid I don’t suffer fools gladly!

What’s your earlist memory?

Having a Mohican haircut around the 1950’s at the local barbers. My Mum was a fan of Saturday night wrestling on TV and  one of her hero’s was Billy Two Rivers who dressed like a Mohican Indian and did a war dance before giving his opponent the karate chop!  

Best advice about writing you would give?

Finish what you start. It is a long and difficult road that many people start  but never finish.

What’s your favourite TV programme at the moment, favourite show and favourite book of all time?

Three questions in one, you wouldn’t be allowed that in an interview but the answer is ANYTHING written by Sally Wainwright! She is an absolute star for her tenacity in getting police procedure correct – which is very rare for todays script writers it appears judging on recent police procedurals that have recently been on the box! Which is one of the reasons we were honoured and ‘pleased as punch’ to be asked to work with her on a new police series for BBC 1 which will air summer 2014.  It’s called  HAPPY VALLEY – http://www.tvthrong.co.uk/2012/11/bbc-one-announces-new-drama-commissions/

Happy Valley

A 6×60 series written by Sally Wainwright (Last Tango In Halifax, Scott & Bailey) and made by Red Production Company.

Catherine Crowther is the sergeant on duty when flustered, nervous-looking accountant Colin Weatherill comes into her West Yorkshire police station to report a crime. He’s reticent about the details and Colin loses his nerve. The crime he was trying to report was Colin’s own brain-child, a plot to kidnap his boss’s daughter and keep enough of the ransom to put his kids through private school. And now local drug king-pin David Cowgill has put the plan into action, and Colin’s fantasy has become a grim and dangerous reality. The botched kidnapping of eccentric, angry Ann Gallagher and its fallout unfolds… Catherine is used to picking up the pieces of everyone else’s lives but the hunt for Ann Gallagher will get right under her skin. Catherine becomes convinced that only by finding Ann alive and bringing her captors to justice can she avenge the death of her daughter.

The executive producer for Red is Nicola Shindler and Matthew Read for the BBC.

Favourite show has got to be Les Miserables and my favourite book of all time is one I got presented to me as a child at Sunday school, Tom Sawyer.

Is there anything else you want to share with us?

Becoming published authors is a whole new career and we’ll never be able to thank Darren E Laws at Caffeine Nights Publishers enough for signing us up for the DI Dylan series, and the work and commitment he has continued to give us since. Thanks a bunch Darren!

Our readers will see more from Dylan and Jen in 2013 and ‘Deadly Focus’ is being translated into Korean and being published in South Korea in 2014, a deal that was brokered by our foreign writes Literary Agent Monika Luukkenon and Caffeine Nights Publishers.

And there is lots more going on behind the scenes for Carol and I. Book 4 ‘Snow Kills’ is out November this year on Amazon- although we are holding a gala night launch at Prego Cafe Bar & Restaurant on 3rd November http://www.waterfrontlodge.co.uk/Contact/ for tickets and for those of you who can’t make it there Le Metro in Halifax http://www.lemetropolitain.co.uk/ are holding a Literary Lunch 7th November 2013.  We are just about to sign a contract with a Turkish publisher for all three of our books, that are already published in the UK again brokered by our foreign writes literary agent Monika Luukkenon, to be translated and published in Turkey. We are also working on another BAFTA nominated  police series Scott & Bailey that has just been announced! Also, the first of the Dylan series is about to be written as a script for TV… we live in hope of seeing Dylan on th telly. Keep watching this space and you won’t be disappointed I promise!

Before I go can I just say one thing?

You always have to have the last word don’t you…. ;-) Anyone who knows Bob knows this is true! :-)

DI Dylan followers are THE BEST! Thanks to everyone for your support!

Well, I can’t disagree with you there! Ha ha! I had the last word… ;-)

Bye for now!

Awh…Shucks!!!

Bob xxx

Read more about Bob Bridgestock and the ‘jobs’ he took charge of by googling Bob Bridgestock.

Our work can be found on Caffeine Nights Publishers website @ www.caffeine-nights.com

Our website can be found at www.rcbridgestock.com and this is our blog www.blog.rcbridgestock.com where you can often see some of Bob’s rants or crime prevention advice.

 

Dec 16, 2012

Carol’s ‘Close Up’ with Darren E Laws – Author and Publisher who is Trained To Kill!

Carol Bridgestock

 

Today I’m very privileged to interview our very own Santa Claus … Let me explain.

Darren E Laws is not just a fantastic author in his own right and successful in public relations but he is also the CEO of Caffeine Nights Publishing. Three years ago Bob and I submitted our second novel in the Dylan series to his publishing house and let’s just say the rest is history. Caffeine Nights publish fiction for the Heart and the Head and any of their readers will know they do just that.  We feel honored to be amongst their stable of authors.

You will read very little about Darren E Laws on the web or anywhere else come to that. So come with me and let’s try to find out what makes this very private man tick…

Darren E Laws

 ’Sir’.

Darren looks at me with a raised eyebrow and a quizzical smile on his lips.  I grin.  

Tell me about life your life before you started working. What did the young Darren E Laws get up to?

As a teenage I was trained to kill and have subsequently used that skill numerous times to good effect. :) It was training which stood me in good stead as a fiction author who dabbles on the darker side of life’s psyche. I was mad enough to join the Territorial Army and foolishly chose the Royal Marine Commandos. I learnt how to dismantle and reassemble a SLR (Self Loading Rifle) blindfolded. A strange skill but one which I could manage quite ably. I lasted about six months before sense took over and I decided that the world would be a safer place without my soldering skills. I remember a lot of running with backpacks, wading chest deep in frozen lakes on Salisbury Plain, eating horrendous dried food. I think my Chicken Supreme with Chocolate Custard is still remembered to this day. In my defence, it was pitch dark, we were soaking, had not eaten nor slept in 20 hours and were no too choosy.

Who gave you your inspiration to write your first novel? The person who gave me faith in myself is Natalie, my wife. Having someone who believes and supports you is a great motivator.

I believe you wanted to be a writer since you were a teenager, is that right? A couple of days before my first novel was published I was rooting about in our loft and came across a diary I don’t even remember writing. Inside it said that one day I would love to be a novelist. I always used to scribble and write stories so the seed was sown early I guess.

How has life experiences affected your writing? Life influences everything a writes puts down on paper in some way or another. If it doesn’t then there is something wrong. For me, growing up in London’s east end it meant using your imagination in so many ways. We were written off and forgotten by society and to escape and make something of your life you had to be autodidactic, adaptable, ambitious beyond academic, resolute or a criminal.

‘Turtle Island’, a crime thriller was your first published novel that was picked up by an American publisher. When will we see the second in the trilogy ‘Dark Country’ published? It’s been a long time coming due to my work with setting up and running Caffeine Nights. I have been writing it for over five years and its 97% there. I expect it to be out in 2013 though I haven’t set a date yet. I dread to think when the third book will be out, especially as there will be another leftfield novel in-between.

‘Tripping’, the second novel published is a surreal black comedy described as ‘chick noir’. What reactions expected or otherwise did you get when that was published – being so different from ‘Turtle Island’? I like confounding expectations, especially my own. I know people are intelligent enough to take a book for what it is and the world is big enough to find new readers in different genres.

How has your perception of publishers changed since being one yourself? Totally. Sadly many of the things which I thought were wrong with the industry were confirmed pretty quickly and continue to be reinforced on a daily basis. There are many great people out there working to move things forward but the industry is sown up by a cartel intent on keeping it an old boys club. Caffeine Nights is there to irritate the hell out of them every now and then.

Tell me a little about bit about your publishing company? Caffeine Nights is dedicated to becoming a platform and outlet for authors who have great books but been neglected by the industry. Our goal has never changed. We published fiction aimed at the heart and the head…

Why did you want to be a publisher? I ask myself that often in the wee hours when I can’t sleep or when I run into the same old class driven BS that permeates the business. However, the simple answer is to show the publishing world what it is missing.

How do you decide what titles to publish? It’s a simple criterion; do I like the books, do I like the authors, do I think we can work together? The novel has to grab me at some level. I have to engage with the characters and care about them. If that doesn’t happen it’s highly likely that it won’t make it onto our list. Even if it does that is not the end of the story (pardon the pun), there are at least 3 books that I would have loved to have published but I found for one reason or another I could not work with the author. I guess I can be difficult.

What do you look for in a good submission? I look for passion in the submission itself. Anyone who sends me an email saying ‘when are you open for submissions’ or ‘will you please look at my novel’ has little chance or inspiring me to read their work. I had one submission that simply said ‘spread the love’…I love the delete button on my computer.

Is the synopsis, letter or blub the real ‘breaker’ as our creative writing teachers tell us? The approach is as vital as the quality of the work. I have little time for people who waste my time. I want your passion, talent and commitment.

If you could work with any author in the world who would it be? There are a number of authors I would love to sign and work with in that sense, but writing is a solitary process for me so in terms of writing with anybody it just wouldn’t work. There is an artist I would love to work with in the sense of publishing, and that is Ben Drew, better known as Plan B. He is a great story teller and comes from my neck of the woods and I am sure that he has a great novel in him.

EBooks and digital publishing is the future but do you wonder if the industry is losing its roots in the high street or is there room for both? The industry is going through a revolution and will continue to be affected by the impact of digital for another 5 to 10 years. What will be left of the high street by then will be anyone’s guess. Bookshops may go the way of record shops. Many do little to help themselves, sadly.

Where do you see yourself/the publishing industry in five years time? Bookshops need to radically rethink their offering to survive and open up to change. They also need to embrace local talent and see the benefits of how the community of readers and writers can bring added value to their business. In five years time digital will be the established norm but paper books will still be with us. Publishers need to know who their readers are and use social media to talk directly with them. Where do I see myself and Caffeine Nights in five years? I may be close to completing my Georgina O’Neil trilogy and Caffeine Nights will go from strength to strength. It would be great to have a few bestsellers by then, some film and TV deals and be respected in the industry.

Darren Laws is a workaholic, I know, you give to your authors 110% of yourself and we in the Caffeine Nights stable are very lucky to have that personal touch and contact with you. How on earth do you manage your time to fit in the writing, publishing and your work as a public relations professional? I’ll sleep when I’m dead :-)

How much difference do you think a good cover makes? This is an interesting question as clearly many very successful self-published titles have covers which really suck but sell really well. For me, it is important to have something which relates to the story and looks great. I am very proud of the quality and standard of covers we consistently produce and have Wills to thank for being able to interpret my ramblings so darned well.

What about the title? A good title is as important and works in relation to a great cover. It’s the authors hook. The blurb is your elevator pitch, your sixty second sell.

What do you think makes a good book sell? I could be cynical and say heaps of money and a slick marketing plan which is true for the big six, but us wee minnows have to be prepared to play the long game and continue to build an audience over a period of time. This doesn’t interest the larger publishers. I would love to say great writing, but many great books are overlooked and many crap ones with huge marketing budgets become million sellers.

What makes you angry about the current publishing industry? Running into greed, apathy and unrealistic attitudes especially from book stores. Many book stores complain about their lot since the advent of digital and eBooks eroding their bottom line but still refuse to stock books, even on a sale or return basis, or host book signing events. This is the only industry where the supplier takes all the risks and still we are met with apathy on many occasions, and sadly independent book shops are the worst offenders. We had one store recently tell us that they could not host a book signing with one of our authors unless we could guarantee 80 sales. This attitude will see them go the way of the dinosaur pretty quickly. This was a local book store that should be encouraging (at no financial risk to themselves) local author events and promoting them to their community. It is a sad indictment on the industry today. Pretentiousness is another of my bug bears. There is a heck of a lot of it. People who strive to think they are above other people through class, position or social standing. I also have little time for people who act as though the world owes them a favour or have a complete sense of humour bypass. Give me talent, graft and sheer bloody minded determined ambition any day.

How important do you think social media is? Vital for all publishers but more so for small publishers. It’s great being able to engage with people who buy and read our books. We have much to learn from them and if we listen, we can be the sort of publisher they deserve.

www.caffeine-nights.com

www.facebook.com/CaffeineNights

http://uk.linkedin.com/in/caffeinenights/

www.twitter.com/caffeinenights

What are the biggest problems facing publishers these days? There’s no real bogeyman lurking that we don’t know about; we all face different challenges. I think the majority of the industry has got to grips with digital and is quite savvy with its social media offering. For smaller publishers we can be at an advantage as we can react to change and adapt quicker. For instance our back catalogues are invariably much smaller, so converting to new formats or platforms is easier. Caffeine Nights biggest challenge is getting wider distribution into stores and it is something I will be working hard to rectify in 2013.

What do you consider your best accomplishment? Waking up.

It’s nearly 2013. If I could grant you one wish what would it be? I would ask for it to be given to my wife, Natalie.

Ten books you want to read/re read on your desert island before you’re rescued?

I could easily list all our books on Caffeine Nights and many of them should be there but it would be like picking your favourite child. So I have ignored this and returned to books which formed me as a reader. I have many books I have enjoyed reading and rarely if ever, returned to them so being stranded would give me a chance to re-visit old friends. I would love to have a list of many literary classics including Shakespeare, Hardy, Austen and their ilk but these are all books I thoroughly enjoyed. In no particular order.

  • The Rats – James Herbert. I read this when I was about 12 and it thrilled me. Primarily because some of the book was set in east London and it was a good, bloody horror. I subsequently read all of James Herbert’s books and met the man at a few book signings. I still have the books.
  • Fight Club – Chuck Palahniuk. I read this before seeing the film and thought it was un-filmable and a great book.  A very funny and a biting satire on the consumer age and the fragility of man. David Fincher produced a fantastic visulisation of the book that is near pitch perfect. Palahniuk is tremendously funny and often stretches his readers by adopting challenging writing styles but he is always worth reading.
  • Heart of a Dog – Mikhail Bulgakov – Written in 1925, the language of the translation I read really sizzled and totally engrossed me in a very dark satire of communism. It’s not the sort of book I normally read but was recommended to me and I was blown away by it. I am sure much of the satire shot over my head but the story was truly fascinating.
  • Jaws – Peter Benchley – I read this after seeing Spielberg’s wonderful film which still stands up. The book I recall was quite different from the film adaptation and is sitting less than a foot away from me on a pile of books to re-read. Benchley died young and I think was haunted by the success of that bloody shark.
  • Miss Smilla’s Feeling for Snow – Peter Hoeg  – This novel introduced me to Scandinavian fiction. It’s a great read. Part detective fiction, part cultural observation and definitely Scandinavian. The pervading atmosphere conjured by Hoeg is something which many authors from the region seem to excel in. I love Smilla Jaspersen. She is a cold character who distances herself from life and is absorbed by her work as a scientist specializing in snow. Smilla is drawn into an investigation of the death of a young boy she befriends. The Boy’s mother is an alcoholic Inuit and his death leads Smilla to discovering a conspiracy by a large drilling company which has contaminated water with a lethal parasite. This also led to the death of the boy’s father. Hoeg is not afraid to let the reader try to work out what happened and it is a book which makes you think as you read it.
  • Casino Royale – Ian Fleming – I recently picked this up and read the first page and was immediately drawn in. Fleming paints with words and the book seemed as fresh and vibrant as the recent remake starring Daniel Craig. It’s on my list of books I want to read.
  •  The Man Who Smiled – Henning Mankell. More bleak Scandinavian fiction featuring Mankell’s lead detective Kurt Wallander. A man with more flaws than a high-rise apartment. I found this a slow paced burner but definitely worth sticking with. A little too bleak at times and I do wonder what even the smallest injection of humour might do to this sort of psychological thriller.
  • Dreamcatcher – Stephen King – A simply wonderful and barkingly mad book. I love King’s writing in this. Although King aficionados probably don’t rate this book, it kept me enthralled on a number of journeys to London about 10 years ago.
  • A Christmas Carol – Charles Dickens – The ultimate ghost and redemption story. Although only a short story usually found bundled in a selection of Dickens short story collections, this story grabbed my attention as a boy and I try to read it every year at Christmas.  Dickens is another author that captures atmosphere and creates scenes while passing on social comment with biting comment on the times of the day.
  • American Psycho – Brett Easton Ellis – Definitely a book for the X-Factor generation. A savage satire written so skillfully to entice and engage you in the action of Ellis’s protagonist, Patrick Bateman. Ellis poses many questions about modern society that are still pertinent, even though this book was written over 20 years ago. The pace of the novel make it a real page turner and stomach churner, however it is a must read.

If should you want to read more Darren’s blog site is him having a rant about publishing: http://darrenlaws.blogspot.com

 Thanks Darren. You’re a pleasure to work with and great to interview! Have a lovely Christmas and we’re looking forward to a very exciting year with Caffeine Nights Publishing.

Watch this space everyone for the new titles! :-)

Carol x

 

 

Carol’s ‘Close Up’ Today with Author Ruth Jacobs!

My ‘Close Up’ today is with Ruth Jacobs and I am very excited to tell you she has joined us in the stable of authors at Caffeine Nights Publishers! I’ve never met Ruth before so let’s find out more about her together shall we? :-)

 Ruth Jacobs 

 

 Hello Ruth, Lovely to meet you! Tell me how on earth do you manage to juggle working and writing?

And looking after my children too! I usually write in the evenings, which is the only time I can write as I work in the daytime. But it’s a good time of day for me as I am not a morning person, and usually wake up properly sometime in the evening, so it’s the best time for my writing, especially creativity. However, for editing, proofreading, and rewriting work, I try not to do it too late because accuracy is essential, so I don’t feel confident doing that if I’m tired.

What inspired you to write a novel in the first place?

I first began writing a novel when I was sixteen years old. Traumatic experiences inspired that novel, and the inspiration for my debut novel, Soul Destruction: Unforgivable, which is being published next year, has also been traumatic experiences.

Who do you admire in the literary world? Who do you consider your mentor?

I’ve read so many books, but because of a misspent youth involving drug addiction and overdoses, and also having posttraumatic stress disorder, I have a terrible memory. I know what I’ve read mainly because I’ve got the books on my bookshelf. There will also be more, but those books I’ve either given away or leant and they’ve been unreturned. I can remember being really taken by Martin Amis at one time and, at another time, Martina Cole but I can’t remember what any of their novels were about even though I might have read most or all of their work available at the time. However, although I don’t remember consciously, I do believe that what I have read has an impact on my writing, but that it’s at a subconscious level – kind of how when you can’t remember the words to a song, then when you hear the tune, suddenly, you can sing the words. So, they were stored in the memory but not immediately accessible.

Where do you work? Do you have a regular pattern or routine?

I tend to type on the sofa with my laptop on my lap. The only issue with that is that my rather large Lurcher thinks he’s a lapdog sometimes and gets between me and the laptop. That’s when I have to stretch over him to type. I don’t have a routine at all right now, but living with bipolar disorder means that whenever I am in mania, I am so much more productive in every area of my life, which includes my writing. Although it feels amazing at the time, after every high, there’s a terrible low. The lows are hard to live through.

What are you working on now?

I’m doing a final re-reading of my debut novel, Soul Destruction: Unforgivable, as the publishers, Caffeine Nights, will begin working on it mid-December. After that, I have the Soul Destruction Diary to continue, which is currently available to read on my blog: www.soul-destruction.com. I also have the second book in the Soul Destruction series to complete.

Now we’ve got to know you a little better share something with us that nobody else knows about Ruth…

There is nothing about me that nobody knows already. Actually, something new is that I’m developing a regular desire for chocolate spread sandwiches. No one knows that yet. I’ve only just realised it myself.

Who would you like to share a cup of coffee and a natter with?

Immediately, my grandmothers and my favourite great auntie came into mind, but I’ll need to wait until I get to heaven, if there is one.

How do you relax?

I used to watch TV but for the last few months or longer, I’ve rarely had the TV on. One of my friends calls it “electric diazepam” and I think it can work like that sometimes, so I’ve turned it on more recently since she reminded me it had that effect.

If you won the lottery what would you spend it on?

I’d start a charity that operated a centre where women who want to exit prostitution can get holistic help that will enable them to gain a new life, a new job, provide trauma and other specialist therapies such as eye-movement therapy for posttraumatic stress disorder, treatment for getting clean off drugs and/or alcohol if addiction is an issue for them, legal help in getting their children back if they’ve lost them to the care system, assistance and support for housing issues, debt management advice and guidance, further education and training (or access to it), and more that I can’t think of right now and also on which I’d want to consult with experts in the field. I’d like the centre to be able to provide onsite, or at least provide access to, services for absolutely every need the women have. I’d also buy myself a new car, and pay off my mortgage, and take the family on holiday. I’d have to give some of the money to my sister but her share might come with a caveat that she only receives it if she works in my charity centre. She’s an English teacher, and a brilliant one, teaching foreign students many of whom are asylum seekers here in the UK. So I’d want her with me, but maybe that’s rather manipulative of me.

Are you a savoury or sweets girl?

Sweets every time.

Mmm…  just like me! :-)

What do you have in your handbag right now?

Thank goodness I am using a small bag currently as it might take more than a page if I was using one of my larger handbags. There’s tobacco, Rizla paper and cigarette filters because I’m a smoker of liquorice roll ups. Lots of scraps of paper and receipts. A few broken lighters that I must get round to binning. My keys – I always keep them in there, otherwise I leave them around the house and they’re lost due to my bad memory. Too many lip-glosses, and ladies’ things I’d rather not mention.

What’s your earliest memory? 

Sometime when I was still being fed by my mum and couldn’t yet talk. I think I was talking at about a year old, so I was very young. She was feeding me baby food and I knew she was putting the savoury food on the spoon then dipping it into the desert to hide the savoury food. I must have eaten it thinking it was the only way to get desert. She did it because apparently, I wouldn’t eat savoury food.

What has been your favourite year and why?

2002, which is the year my twin sons were born.

What’s your favourite smell?

Agent Provocateur perfume with the exception of nighttime during which I prefer lavender.

What was the last thing you laughed at?

I laughed at myself this afternoon as I was outside talking to my dog, and realised how much I talk to him.

What’s the best advice you’ve been given?

I was recently told something I hope will become a mantra to me: Some things belong in hell and it’s best to leave them there.

What’s your favourite film as a child and an adult?

As a very young child, my favourite film was Grease, then as a teenager it was The Wall. As an adult, it’s so hard to call as my memory has worsened over the years I find it hard to remember what films I’ve actually seen. In fact, I can watch a film and perhaps it won’t even be until near the end when I will suddenly remember that I’ve seen the film before and some of the scenes fall into place in my mind. I think in recent years, one film that has had a big impact on me is Hard Candy.

Who was the most famous person you have worked with and what were they really like?

Noel Edmonds who read out my letter on Swap Shop in the 1980s in which I had written about a huge hole running through a loaf of bread that was made by the brand with the logo  “Bread wi’ nowt taken out”. I wasn’t impressed as he said my surname wrong on TV and ruined my fifteen minutes (or seconds) of fame.

Beyond the Streets charity means a lot to you doesn’t it Ruth? I see you have donated all royalties from one of your books, tell me more.

In Her Own Words… Interview with a London Call Girl’ is available to download from Amazon and you’re right all royalties will be donated to Beyond the Streets, a charity helping women exit prostitution. The publication is 77p from Amazon UK here & 99c from Amazon US here. It is also available worldwide.

 Thank you so very much for talking to me today. I hope we will meet up real soon and get to know each other even better!

Good Luck with ‘Unforgivable’. We’ll all definately look out for it!

Ta ra for now!

Carol :-)

 

Carol’s ‘Close Up’ today with Sam Taylor – Creative Director of TinkerTaylor who are specialist in films, motion graphics, brand animation and so much more…

 

 

Today I’m very lucky to be ‘Close Up’ to Sam Taylor the very talented Creative Director of Tinker Taylor …

Sam is not just a pretty face, she went to Kent University where she gained BSc, Social Anthropology & Psychology.

She spent several years at the BBC (Pebble Mill) and working for various Independent production companies, including ENDEMOL, MAVERICK TELEVISION, HOTBED MEDIA, HANRAHAN MEDIA, VENTURA PRODUCTIONS first as a researcher then as a Producer/Director. Then went on to work as Producer on My Kinda Show followed by being Producer/Director of BBC House Invaders - the interior  make over show show with Linda Barker & Anna Ryder Richardson &  BBC Garden Invaders – garden make over show with Joe Swiff, Charlie Dimmock and Mark Evans. She says, ‘It was a barrel of laughs to produce and we made literally hundreds of of home owners very happy indeed!’

 Now she is the the Creative Director of Tinker Taylor  which continue’s to grow and expand as the market dictates. She admits she has ridiculously high professional standards, both on screen and off. But her aim is to keep inspiring, encouraging and motivating her clients onto bigger and better things. To be the very best at what she does – and to make sure everyone working at TT enjoys getting up on a Monday morning! Too ambitious?  ’I think not,’ she says with a smile. Tinker Taylor are specialists in films, motion graphics, brand animation, websites, iphone apps, photography, carrier pigeon… we communicate by whichever means necessary to get our clients message heard. ‘ And they’re good at it!’

What inspired you to establish TINKER TAYLOR Sam?

After a decade working in the broadcast television industry, including several years at the BBC, my husband and I felt the time was right to start a family. I always loved my work in television but with two small sons, five nights a week on the road was no longer a viable lifestyle, so I decided to start my own production company.

So in a nutshell, what does TINKER TAYLOR do?

We are film makers, website designers and motion graphics specialists. We create eye-catching content for any screen and ensure our clients stand out from the crowd. All with a friendly, professional attitude and a creative edge!

Where do you work?

We are based in beautiful Fazeley Studios, which is home to many creative and digital businesses in Birmingham’s arts quarter, Digbeth. This is where our pre- and post-production work takes place but otherwise we might be found on location anywhere around the UK, camera in hand…or rather, on tripod.

Tell me about some of your recent projects?

We’ve just completed a series of eight short films called ‘Policing the Olympics 2012’, which celebrate the role of British Police Officers in ensuring the smooth running of the ‘greatest show on earth’. London 2012 was such a momentous event for this country and TINKER TAYLOR wanted to demonstrate just how important the police were in making it all happen. These films give a unique insight into the Games – from the Torch Security Team to the officers patrolling the skies, the Thames and on the ground. It was a real privilege to meet so many people who have a genuine passion for their work.

You’re clearly very proud of the Olympics project – what would you say is the project you are most proud of since establishing TINKER TAYLOR?

Well I’m proud of everything we produce at TINKER TAYLOR but yes, the Olympics films are especially close to my heart. The police don’t always get a positive press but with this series we hoped to challenge those perceptions and you only have to listen to the tourists praising the British officers to see what a fantastic job they do and how vital they were to the whole Olympic experience.  

If I had to pick another project I’m particularly proud of, it’s been great to work with Claims Direct over the last couple of years. We produce all the video testimonies for their website and I’m delighted that our films have successfully enhanced the business of such a renowned company. Our MOD Police campaign film ‘In Defence of the Nation’ is another project that’s made a tangible difference for the client, demonstrating how vital the work of this small part of the British Police Service is to national security.

What’s the most challenging thing you’ve ever filmed?

That’s a hard question, as every project presents its own unique challenges. Logistically speaking, I’d have to say a project for Stanley Tools earlier this year was quite a challenge, as it involved dropping a spirit level out of a helicopter into a quarry! Finding the right location and equipment took a lot of research, but it was great fun.

A website we developed for the Police Dependants’ Trust was challenging in a different way, as we interviewed several people who had either lost loved ones or been severely injured in the line of duty. You have to balance professionalism with sensitivity, as in any job, but it was crucial to make sure these people were happy to talk to us and happy with the way in which they were represented on the website.

Who’s the most famous person you have worked with and what were they really like?

A highlight of 2012 was working with Sir Steve Redgrave, who was a guest speaker at the Police Federation of England and Wales Conference in May. TINKER TAYLOR helped to facilitate his appearance and he was such a charming, genuine man. We bonded over Radio 4! Another little claim to fame is that I produced Gregg Wallace’s first ever TV series, which was a 25 day trip round Italy sampling the cuisine. Gregg and I are still friends and he follows TINKER TAYLOR on Twitter.

So Steve Redgrave aside, who else would you like to share a cup of coffee and a natter with?

I’m more of a tea than a coffee girl, but I actually love chatting to anyone who has a story to tell and wants to bounce ideas around of how we can make that happen. People with a business to grow, an event to record, an issue to expose, a service to promote or a presentation to make, I’ll natter with them all…but business aside, a cuppa with Jenson Button would go down well!

So if any of our readers want to discuss promoting their business or filming an event you’d encourage them to get in touch?

Definitely! We’re a friendly bunch and always keen to explore new opportunities. Check out the TINKER TAYLOR website and drop me an email, sam@tinkertaylor.tv

How do you relax in your spare time?

I’m an avid reader, enjoy running (slowly!), long walks along the coast and bike rides with my boys – the usual soul cleansing stuff!  I used to play rugby and am now a coach, love the Grand Prix and take far too much pleasure from drinking fine New Zealand wines.

Finally, what’s the best advice you’ve been given or best advice you’d give?

Be confident in what you do and always be nice to people! I think this quote also sums it up for me: ‘Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don’t matter, and those who matter don’t mind’, courtesy of the great Dr Suess.

Thank you so much Sam for taking the time out of your busy schedule to talk to me. If anyone wants to speak to Sam and thinks that Tinker Taylor can help them please contact Sam @ sam@tinkertaylor.tv or through the website http://tinkertaylor.tv/

Just in time for Halloween and Bonfire Night – A Recipe for Yorkshire Parkin!

 

 

Yorkshire Parkin

 

8 oz brown sugar

8oz margarine

11b treacle (small tin)

2 cups of milk

11b self raising flour

4 oz oats

4 oz oatmeal

1 teaspoon of ginger

1 egg

 

Method

 

Melt sugar, marg, treacle and milk in a pan.  Do not bring to the boil!

Add to flour, oats, oatmeal, ginger and egg and mix!

 

Place in a tin appox 24cm x 30cm x 5cm,  greased and lined, and place in a pre heated oven to 180c, gas 4, for approx 45 mins!

 

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