Rebecca Bradley is my Guest Author: Former Detective turned Author and Blogger has a new book: DEAD BLIND
I’ve wanted to host my Guest Author Rebecca Bradley for ages – and now here she is chatting about her career in the Police and her writing.
If you’ve read any of my other interviews with former Detectives and Intelligence Officers, you will know I like to get to the nitty-gritty of these detectives turned authors…I hope you enjoy finding out about Rebecca whose latest book
is published 8th May 2018.
Hello Rebecca, thanks so much for agreeing to be my guest author. I am really pleased to welcome you as I’ve wanted you to be my guest for such a long time.
Hi Jane, thank you for having me!
Please tell us something about yourself and your former career in the Police: when and why you entered the police force?
Well, as you say, before I was a full-time author I was a serving police officer. I spent 7 years as a uniform officer before moving to a specialist CID department dealing with sexual exploitation where I served for 8 years. I always wanted to be a police officer, but when I was at school there were still height restrictions in place. It wasn’t until I was much older that I realised the restrictions were now defunct and I could join. So, that’s what I did. Crime is something that has always fascinated me. Obviously, being on the right side of it!
When and why did you first decide to become a writer or were you born with stories inside your head just bursting to come out some day?
I was one of those authors who always said I wanted to write a novel but never did anything about it. I was too busy in the career I had, I suppose. I did attempt a first chapter a couple of times, but I had no idea where it was going, so it went nowhere. It wasn’t until I was approaching a significant birthday that I actually sat down and wrote my first book.
The one that came out as Shallow Waters.
It took a few years to kick it into shape and I had a lot of help along the way, but eventually it got there.
I absolutely loved Shallow Waters and was bitterly disappointed when I turned the page to find it had ended.
Who or what event inspired you to write?
I’m not sure there was any one person or event, it was a yearning inside of me. I wanted to create a world and characters. I wanted to build it from the ground up and see it grow. To know that I had created it. Like I say, the impending birthday was the push that I needed.
Yep those ‘significant’ birthdays will do it!
When you were a serving police officer did you imagine that one day you would be a writer and did it ever cross your mind to retain details (mentally) of cases for use in the future as a writer?
No, I always presumed I would stay in the police and retire at the right age and then potter around and enjoy myself. It was ill health that meant I had to leave the police. Though, I did start writing while I was still serving. But, my health had already started to decline, so maybe in the back of my mind, at that point, I knew I needed a fall-back plan.
I know in TV crime dramas retired police officers often have records and files at home which they copied when they retired. Is this possible, or are there/were there, strict rules in place then/now preventing this?
Gosh, no. I have nothing. I have a certificate signed by the chief constable at the time, thanking me for my service and I have some training manuals, but as for work documents, that’s an absolute no. I’d be up on charges of some description if I had some.
That is what I thought.
As a former Detective Constable are you able to tell us about the most interesting and exciting case you ever worked on? No need to give names etc.
I can talk about work, about cases that have now gone to court because – well, they’ve been to court. It’s difficult, members of the public who don’t do this job, see it as exciting, that’s why they read and watch and consume so much crime fiction, but the reality is, the cases are heart-wrenching and painful in the majority of cases, – if they are the type of cases you would be interested in.
Real people are affected by the most horrific offences.
And it was my very last case that will stay with me.
That case, I put about 18 months of work into. It was a human trafficking case. But one that we really struggled with evidence. I had the victims and I even had the offenders. But, for CPS charging, we didn’t have enough in the way of evidence. It was awful. I slogged over that case. I put in more hours than any case I have ever worked. And then I left. It was not the high note to leave on.
I can imagine. So frustrating and disappointing I am sure.
Have you used this case (or any other) as a basis for any of your novels?
No, this is the first time I’ve mentioned it.
I won’t ask you to go into detail but what did the sexual exploitation cases involve?
Sexual exploitation covers a wide range of offences from online grooming and indecent images to human trafficking.
I think we are all too aware, sadly, about these cases through the media and various cases coming to trial in recent years. Harrowing experience I am sure.
How do you feel the role of female police officers has changed over the years?
Well, when I first started working, my tutor, he was a wonderful guy, he had great delight in winding me up and telling me that female officers used to have a hut in the car park from which they worked because they were not allowed to work with the men in the real police station. (He wasn’t far from retiring when I started.) There is still a disparity in the numbers of males and females, but it is changing and I wouldn’t say there wasn’t anything I couldn’t ever do or was stopped from doing because of my gender.
When writing do you find yourself creating characters from your past in the police, perhaps their appearance, personality or their crimes? Disguised of course.
There’s only one character who is taken from my past and he is moulded a little on my old tutor because he was a genuinely great guy.
Now I am trying to work out which character that is….
If your illness hadn’t caused you to retire early, did you see yourself going up the command chain and had you ambitions to be a Chief Constable for example?
I didn’t want to go too far up the chain, but I did want to go for promotion. There were also other departments I wanted to work on at DC level first as well. Being ill stopped me from doing a lot more than I realised. It had started to affect me before I even realised it had. The fatigue had set in and I stayed in my department when I should have moved somewhere else.
That is very sad to know. Life has a way of pushing us where we might never have otherwise gone – to writing perhaps!
I have to say the Police’s loss is our gain as readers.
I’ve interviewed a few former police officers and intelligence officers on my blog, including David Videcette, Roger A Price, Laurie Smith, James North, and also Sue Coletta – not a police officer, but an author who specialises in serial killers – and they always seem to go down very well with my followers.
Crime and crime fighters obviously fascinate us all – reading about criminals and finding out about the detection of those crimes. We all hope they get their just deserts. Why do you think your readers enjoy your books so much? What makes your books stand out do you think?
Like I say above, crime, it’s fascinating to those who aren’t involved in it. It looks exciting and sexy, dashing about saving people who need saving and helping. The reality isn’t all like that – yes there is some dashing about and yes, the police do their best to help people, but it’s a more steady job as a detective, than fiction makes it look.
But, I think I bring some authenticity to the page.
It is a fine line though. I am well aware that people don’t want to read a police manual and they do want to read the exciting stuff, so I try to make the story interesting but then also include the inner workings of the police station. So, you get to see both.
Do you ensure your criminals are caught and punished?
That would be giving too much away for anyone who hasn’t read the books! But, in the main, I think readers do like a well-rounded ending. One where they can close the book happy that it has the ending it is supposed to have.
The reason I asked is that some authors keep a story going through more than one book, side stories taking over as the main criminal evades justice until possibly the next time….
Do you consciously try to put across a message in your books, such as crime never pays, or do you just write and see what happens?
I don’t put a message in, but, in the writing, a theme may appear.
Do you think it is important for the criminals to get punished after all?
I think it’s important that readers feel that the ending was correct. Whether the criminal managed to flee, or the victim got retribution, or the police made an arrest, whatever the story involves, it’s important that it ends the correct way for the story and theme of the story.
I love your blog which is so informative and generous with information. What inspired you to begin blogging and especially about Police Procedure?
Thank you. I’ve been blogging for years now. I can’t even remember why I started. It was so long ago and a couple of blogs ago. I think this is the third or fourth iteration of it. When I added the Writing Crime series I had been asking myself what I had to offer my readers that I could blog about, and that obviously came up. It has been a popular series and I’m glad people find it useful.
I loved Shallow Waters as I said before, and I have your other books on my TBR list. I did not want Shallow Waters to end and when it did, it was a shock. I can recall staring at the page willing there to be more…is there a writer who does that to you – who and why do you think they do?
Thank you for saying that! David Jackson is one of my favourite writers at the moment. Along with Sharon Bolton and Karin Slaughter. They all just bring their characters to life so well and you get so involved with them that you really don’t want the story to come to an end.
I’ve not read Sharon Bolton but adore Karin Slaughter too.
Tell my readers something about Shallow Waters and what inspired the story? Is DI Hannah Robbins based on you or someone you knew/know in the police?
The Hannah Robbins series is written in first person point of view, so I think a little of me seeps in. It has to. Though I was never a DI and I’m not single, I have kids and she doesn’t. But, there is some of me in her. The story was inspired by the department I worked on at the time I wrote it. It’s a difficult subject, but everything that happens is off screen, I make sure of that because of what it is.
What interests you most? The crime, the criminal or the detection of the crime and the catching of the criminal?
Are we talking fiction or reality now? I’m really not sure but I’m going with fiction as we were just talking about Shallow Waters. I think the criminal interests me the most. Motivation. The bad guy is never just the bad guy. They have a life like everyone else. They have their own story. They are not a two-dimensional character there because we need them to be there. They behaved that way for a reason and usually there are some redeeming features within them.
I think we both did the same Forensic courses on-line; how much do you think modern advances in Forensic Science has made the lot of a police officer easier or harder?
The forensics world changes rapidly. I think it helps. But as much as it helps, the criminals keep up and they take measures to prevent detection. Like the wearing of gloves to prevent leaving fingerprints. If you get a DNA match on a job though, it is another piece of evidence to help your case, but you don’t want your case to only hang on that evidence alone. You need to build a picture.
The loss/mishandling or contamination of forensic evidence can cause a miscarriage of justice, have you come across such an event when investigating? Do tell us about any cases you might possibly know about – without getting in to specifics where we might identify the case!
I can’t tell you anything because I’m lucky enough to say I haven’t been involved or know of anything.
That is good to know. I wasn’t inferring you personally might have been involved, but perhaps knew of a case.
Your latest book is called Dead Blind about a police officer who suffers from Prosopagnosia – face blindness. Tell us a little about the story and why you decided to write it. I imagine a police officer unable to distinguish one face from another and who might find it hard to recognise himself is a nightmare, but a fab story line for an author.
It was a fantastic story to write! I really enjoyed the researching and the writing. It popped into my head, practically fully formed and wouldn’t leave, so I had to write it. It’s about a police officer who acquires prosopagnosia (face blindness) after an accident at work. When he returns he refuses to disclose this to his colleagues and during an investigation into the trading of human organs he witnesses a savage murder. Only he will never remember the killers face…
When is this published?
It’s published on 8th May.
Many congratulations and I wish you much success and I shall be reading it.
Can you share a small extract with us here? It sounds fabulous.
Book Blurb for Dead Blind:
How do you identify a ruthless killer when you can’t even recognise your own face in a mirror?
Returning to work following an accident, Detective Inspector Ray Patrick refuses to disclose he now lives with face blindness – an inability to recognise faces.
As Ray deceives his team he is pulled into a police operation that targets an international trade in human organs. And when he attempts to bring the organisation down, Ray is witness to a savage murder.
But it’s a killer he will never remember.
The pressure mounts as Ray attempts to keep his secret and solve the case alone. With only his ex-wife as a confidant, he feels progressively isolated.
Can he escape with his career and his life intact?
This extract is from partway through chapter one and Prabhat Jain is DI Ray Patrick’s supervisor.
After six months off, his office looked bedraggled. Cops had obviously used it as a spare room when they needed the space and had then tried to clear it out again when they knew of his return. Chairs were shoved to the sides against walls, and there were stacks of opened letters on his desk. Prabhat had warned him that he had opened them in case any needed urgent action. The ones left here were ones for him to deal with now.
Ray slipped off his coat and hung it up. It felt like coming home. Home after teenagers had partied in the house, but home nonetheless. He fired up the laptop on his desk and started to work his way through the hundreds of emails that waited for him.
‘Well, if it isn’t Humpty Dumpty himself.’
Ray recognised the voice in his doorway as that of Jain and looked at the time on the screen; an hour had passed.
‘But this good egg doesn’t stay –’ He looked up, he had expected it, but the shock still stopped his flow. He needed to do better.
‘What’s that, mate?’ the Asian guy in the smart suit asked as he walked into the office with a big smile on his face.
Ray needed to act as though this was normal. He forced his legs to move, stood to meet him and walked around his desk. ‘– doesn’t stay down.’ He grasped Jain’s hand, and he used both hands in return, shaking vigorously.
‘It’s a good job, mate.’ He let go of Ray’s hand and pulled a chair over. ‘Can you imagine the outrage if we’d have had to do a second collection for your funeral flowers after we’d already done a collection for the hospital gift, with this bunch of tight-arses?’
Ray turned back to his desk, closed his eyes. The voice was the same. He knew who he was. He now had to keep this up all day and try to figure it out for every single member of staff who walked through the door.
Tell us about your other books: Made to be Broken, Fighting Monsters and your stand-alone novella, Three Weeks Dead featuring DC Sally Poynter.
They’re the books in the DI Hannah Robbins series.
Three Weeks Dead is the prequel novella.
It can be read before or after Shallow Waters and can be downloaded for FREE. Details can be found on the front page of my website rebeccabradleycrime.com.
It’s about a man whose wife is dug up from the grave, a week after she’s been buried, in order to blackmail him into doing something the bad guys want the husband to do for them.
Made to be Broken involves a city in meltdown when a broken father uses poison to make a point.
And Fighting Monsters looks at where you would turn if you can’t trust the police . When a gang leader is released from court found not guilty of killing a police officer, he’s then found dead only a day later.
After your latest book is published, what do you plan? Another Hannah Robbins. Perhaps something completely different? Do tell what you can…
I’ve just finished the first draft of Hannah 4 which will be out later this year. I also plan to write a new series this year – though it’s not likely to be out until early next year.
Please add anything else you want our readers to know here.
I think your questions have been pretty comprehensive! I’m not sure there’s anything left to say!
Thanks so much Rebecca, I hope this wasn’t too painful.
Thank you so much for having me!
Please list your books and add the live buy links for them here.
I hope you will get lots of comments and new readers as a result of being here. Everyone, please comment and let Rebecca know you’ve visited.
Thanks so much
Three Weeks Dead – FREE – https://dl.bookfunnel.com/8ti73n39aj
I am reading three Weeks Dead now and loving it Rebecca.
Shallow Waters – myBook.to/SWwebsite
Made to be Broken – myBook.to/MTBBWebsite
Fighting Monsters – myBook.to/FightingMonsters
Box set (which is the three book cheaper together) – mybook.to/HR1-3Boxset
Dead Blind – mybook.to/DeadBlind
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