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:-

      

 

 

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