Today I’m delighted to welcome an author local to me, John Pye.
For those who don’t know already, could you tell us about yourself and your books please?
Hi, I am John Pye, a retired Detective formerly with Staffs Police and now swiftly approaching my 66th birthday. Writing has been both my passion and my hobby since retirement and my career as a police officer was without doubt the motivating force behind this. Of course I didn’t realise when I joined the force just how much written work was involved and as an eleven plus failure it was a big learning curve.
It wasn’t until I finally came to hang up my handcuffs some 27 years later that I realised that I’d become quite adept at writing and actually enjoyed it. I’ve always had a passion for history and so initially I completed a few articles for the local newspaper’s ‘The Way We Were’ supplement – these were published and I realised that I had been bitten by the writing bug!
Can you share your writing process with us, in a nutshell?
I started to work on a mostly humorous account of my police service and I ‘self-published’ this in paperback form. But the learning curve was still ‘curving’ as it cost me a small fortune and with all the promoting also being down to me there was little chance of the book ever becoming widely read.
With many lessons learned, but never disheartened, I wrote my first novel (Cathedral of Lies). I soon gained an insight into the world of ‘proper’ publishing when I realised how difficult it is for a new unknown writer to become noticed. Those publishers’ gates were all firmly closed – there was simply no way in. My manuscripts were returned unread on countless occasions and I’d already learned that there was no future in self-publication – I’d certainly got the Tee shirt on that one!
I was lucky enough to have a chat with another local author, Mel Sherratt and the story she told me put me onto a different course. Mel had started out by publishing on kindle (ebooks) – YES, kindle is another form of self-publishing, but ‘Indie’ – independent publishing costs the author absolutely nothing. There are no printing costs and you instantly have a world-wide market, although promoting your books will be down to you (mostly through social media). Mel had done well from kindle and her style and prolific output had got her noticed by the people behind the gates (the publishers) and the rest was history for her! It’s a good lesson for many disheartened authors – keep at it and maybe your work will get noticed.
My first novel ‘Cathedral of Lies’ is a crime thriller… what else from a retired detective? I pounded away at my computer keyboard for a long time with strange ideas and odd characters which constantly morphed from one form into another along with an ever changing storyline before suddenly, overnight, the story began to take shape and evolve into a complex and interesting ‘search for the truth’.
I found myself researching bizarre real life events for inspiration until I hit upon a fascinating true tale which I was able to hinge the entire story upon. This real life unsolved crime became so interesting to me that it generated the excuse for a four day trip to Belgium with my wife for more of that ‘research’.
As the story really started to take on some shape and evolve into what it became I was able to begin to tweak and alter. I’m sure this is when my own style started to develop and my flair for adding twist and turns and creating suspense developed. Keeping the readers on the edge of their seats will also keep them turning the pages. I found my comfort zone when dealing with police procedure and so was confident of a good degree of authenticity.
My second crime novel ‘Field of Lies’ is of course number two in that series. It is well liked by readers and has accrued plenty of super reviews. Once again I used a real life event as an inspiration for the tale.
I have also published a kindle story entitled ‘The vampire of The Villas’. It’s a short but true (dramatized) tale of something that happened to me as a young copper years ago.
Where did/do you get your ideas from?
Looking back on my time as a police officer I realise that it was often the black humour and mischievous antics which helped to get us though some tricky and unpleasant events. That rascally mind-set has always stayed with me and often comes to the surface in my writing. An impromptu comedy scene occasionally appears in the midst of a serious setting (this was always so true to life).
Are any of your characters based (however loosely) on anyone you know and how do you pick your character’s names?
During my police service I regularly found myself in all manner of awkward situations engaging with a variety of strange, odd and unpleasant people as well as a plethora of wonderful helpful folk. Consequently I tend to model characters upon former colleagues as well as criminals and casual acquaintances. My choice of names for these individuals stems from a mix of real life names – a jumble of Christian names and surnames. The occasional scan through the phone directory can also provide a great ‘handle’ for a new character. I feel however, that it is important to try to stay close to the real world – it might seem like a good idea at the time to give your main ‘action man or woman’ a flashy name but it can be a turn off for the reader if it’s too improbable.
Do you have a favourite author?
I love Ian Rankin’s Inspector Rebus books and readily identify with the reality he creates. I also love Frederick Forsyth and Joanne Harris as great authors.
Were you a big reader as a child?
I did not read that much as a child and spent most of my time at school fooling about and playing sport, although when I look back I did have a bit of flair for English and loved essay writing.
What are you working on right now?
I have just released (on kindle) a completely re-written version of my original paperback account of my police service. I thought it would be a simple straight forward job to do this, but found that my first attempt needed so much ‘tweaking’ that it took nearly 12 months to get it right. The book is a complete divergence from crime thrillers and is titled ‘The Nick of Time’. If you get the chance to give it a try I’m fairly confident that it will make you laugh and maybe even cry a little!
When can we look forward to a new release?
Several things have kept me back from getting on with number three in the ‘Of lies’ DI Doug Taylor series, but finally I can say that I have started. Sadly I suspect that it may be early 2017 before it’s done, but if I get properly into gear perhaps a bit sooner.
John has a Facebook page for his ‘of lies’ series HERE. I’m sure he would appreciate a like 🙂
My little review on Amazon, back when I didn’t elaborate much:
This grabbed my attention from the very start. It’s very fast paced with lots of twists and turns. Very well written with interesting characters. I look forward to the sequel John!
I really need to bump this up my TBR list!
My review from October 2013:
This is a very interesting story about a case I knew nothing about previously. It did happen before my time though!
As I am from Stoke-on-Trent, (well, Newcastle-under-Lyme) I enjoyed learning about this little piece of local history and will be interested in finding out if any of my older relatives remember anything about it.
This is also on my TBR list.
You can follow John on Twitter @
Also, check out his website cathedraloflies.com
Many thanks for joining me on my blog, John.