- How long did it take you to come up with the idea for the latest DI Barton storyline and where did the inspiration come from?
It’s quite tricky to think of new ideas because there are about 400,000 books a year published. I wanted to do something different, so I used my prison knowledge. This book starts with a death in custody, which should be new ground for most people. Barton knows that the person who did it has to be on the wing, but people are getting transferred or released shortly, which makes solving the crime urgent.
2. How has the character developed?
Barton is about my age (48), so he’s beginning to feel his age. Being in the police for 25 years takes its toll, so he’s getting a bit frayed around the edges, but he’s good at his job and believes in what he’s doing, so he perseveres.
3. What themes are you exploring in this one?
There are some dark themes, murder obviously, but I touch on historic child abuse. The death in custody occurs on the VP wing of the prison where sex offenders are kept. Barton is also under pressure at home because his mother comes to say due to not being able to look after herself. Classic sandwich generation, caught between young children and ageing parents, which I’m experiencing myself!
4. How do you get into the DI Barton mindset – is he a character that’s always floating about in your head?
Yes, he’s never far away. He’s based a bit on my personality, so it’s not too hard. I’m often thinking of ways to get away with crimes. It’s not easy with all the CCTV and DNA help that the police get. My Google search history would be worrying taken out of context.
5. Are there still connections with Peterborough?
Yes, Barton still works at Thorpe Wood. The crimes occur in Longthorpe, Glinton’s Nine Bridges, and Sugar way, and of course, Peterborough prison.
6. Do you feel like a seasoned writer now and how do you think your books have improved?
The Barton series has sold 150,000 copies now, which is hard to believe. I hope I’ve improved! You learn all the time. The big things to focus on are to keep the pace moving along and make the characters likeable or at least relatable, or no one cares too much about what happens to them.
7. Now that you’ve produced several novels is it still just as exciting when you have a new one about to be published.
Nothing is as exciting and nerve wracking as your first book, but you’re still anxious, especially waiting for the first reviews. As you write more, you realise the publishing game is very fickle and some books sell and others don’t. My old publisher said they never knew which was going to fly off the shelves and which were going to get dusty.
8. Where can we buy it and is it just for crime lovers?
Amazon is the best place to get it in Audio, Kindle and paperback. And hopefully anyone will enjoy it. Certainly, if you come from Peterborough because you’ll know the area. I deliberately made it not too gruesome, and Barton and his crew and family are all people who you’d like to know. There are plenty of laughs on the way to hopefully solving the crime!
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