Tag Archives: e-books

Don’t Quit the Day Job: Paul Harrison

Lots of people don’t realise that although you may see work by a certain author on the bookshelves in your favourite shop, many writers still hold down a day job in addition to penning their next novel. In this series, we talk to writers about how their current – or previous – day jobs have inspired and informed their writing.

It’s my privilege to welcome Paul Harrison to the blog today to talk about how his work in the criminal justice system has influenced his writing. If Paul’s post catches your interest, drop him a tweet or look him up on Facebook

Vic x

paulblackandwhite

Thanks for inviting me to speak on the blog. For me, bloggers are one of the most influential part of being a writer these days, so I’m well chuffed to be here talking about my previous life. I’ve been called Britain’s Mindhunter by the world’s media, because of my work with serial killers. However, I much prefer to be Paul Harrison, not some media invention.

When I joined the police service back in the late 1970’s, never, did I anticipate that my working life would be so exciting and filled with mainly positives, there have been a few negatives, but I’ve learned from those. Anyone who believes the British police force is behind its global counterparts, is wrong. I have over a century of policing within the family tree, my grandfather, father, myself and currently my son have been so employed. Even my great grandfather was so employed. Back in Victorian times he was probably the first criminal profiler in history. He’d hang about with criminals and felons and draw up social profiles on the in an attempt to understand who likely victims were likely to be, then he’d sell that intelligence on to the police. He was a big writer and storyteller, so his genes have definitely been passed down to me.

My own police career lasted over three decades and I was fortunate to serve in just about all the specialised fields I aimed for: Dog Handler, Firearms Officer on Special Escort Duties, Promotion, Intelligence Officer and of course, much later, my association with the FBI and profiling. I worked hard to get where I wanted to be, and advise everyone, no matter what they are doing to follow their dreams.

I began writing during my police career, mainly true crime books but the odd football book also crept into print too. These were the days before e-books so it was traditional publishing only, it was difficult trying to sell manuscripts to publishers and hold down a regular job.  I was lucky, I guess, and managed to get seven books published during my time in the police.

When I retired from the job I went to work with the Judiciary at the Royal Courts of Justice in London. What an eye-opener that was! Seeing the criminal justice system from the other side, was shocking. Needless to say, I often questioned judgments and tariffs handed down to serious (vile) offenders. I didn’t last long, and I moved on after a couple of years. I took up work in the voluntary sector, helping child victims and survivors of sexual harm. The scale of the matter was shocking and I set up my own service, called SAM (Systematic Abuse of Males) as a signposting agency directing victims to services in their area. As a result of this I was awarded the Outstanding Individual of the Year Award for my voluntary work in this arena.

All the time I was writing, more true crime and finally I went full time, and have moved onto novels. I’m so proud to be part of the Urbane Books team and have just signed a contract with them that I hope will last several years. Of all the publishers I’ve worked with in my time as a writer, covering thirty four books, Urbane Books stand out head and shoulders above the rest for their care and attention to detail. They like great writers, but are focused on producing quality books for the reader. 

Over the years, I’ve met some of the world’s worst killers, looked evil in the eye and confronted it. Nerve wracking stuff, however, let me tell you, there’s nothing more worrying than waiting for a publisher’s response to a book submission.

Writing has been incredibly cathartic for me, as is the sense of support that runs throughout most of the crime writing community. There’s a lot more books in me yet, and my fictional detective, Will Scott (named after my grandfather) will go on to endure many more adventures.

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Getting to Know You: Sheila Quigley

Today, we’re lucky to have another north-east writer, Sheila Quigley guesting on the blog.

Sheila, all of the titles of your books have song titles – where did you get the idea? Was it a conscious choice from the outset?

After sending stuff off for years, one morning I got a phone call from a London agent saying the screenplay I’d sent was brilliant, but asking if I would write a gangster type-novel set in the north-east. Still in shock, I headed for the stairs to start the novel and ‘Run For Home’ came on the radio. Perfect title, I thought, and since then they have all been song titles. The third, ‘Living On A Prayer’, actually has some of the action that was in the screenplay.

How did you first get into writing?

As soon as I learned to read I began to write, but even when I was very small there were stories going round in my head.

What inspires you?

Anything can set me off, hearing a conversation somewhere, seeing something that just isn’t quite right. Once I’m in the middle of something a brass band could march through the room and I wouldn’t hear them.

Do you have time to read at the moment? If so, what are you reading?

At this moment in time I’m busy judging for the ITW… International Thriller Writers. So my allotted reading time is taken up with that.

Do you have a favourite author or one that has influenced you the most?

Stephen King, I’ve loved him from the very first book I read of his and still adore him today.

How do you feel about the rise of digital books? Would you ever consider branching out into print-based publishing or do you think that is on its way out?

All 7 of my books are in print, hardback and paperback, plus large print and audio and will continue to be so…I hope! Digital does have its place in the present world and will continue to do so I think it’s great that a lot of people can be published today than even just 5 years ago. So far only ‘Thorn In My Side’ is on Kindle, I’m in talks with the publisher about the rest of them. I also think that e-books should definitely be cheaper than print, just not as cheap as they are. 90 percent of authors only get 10 percent royalties and spend a year writing a book. To see their livelihoods slashed in this way is soul-destroying.

As a writer, what do you do well? What are your weaknesses?

I’m told often that my characters are my strong point as well as plot. But to get these plots and people, smoking too many ciggies is my weakness!

Where can we find you online?

Facebook and my website: www.theseahills.co.uk

What do you like most about writing? What do you dislike?

It’s hard to say, I love it when it starts to roll and I’m all wrapped up in the plot, and wake up in the morning with my next chapter in my head. I hate it when I’ve forgotten something or someone and have to go back and get their string going again. Although stuff like that is much easier than it was only 10 years ago.

What are your hopes for the future?

I would love to see the Seahills series on telly, I get asked daily off people, when is it going to be on. I guess it’s a waiting game – I’m hoping one of the books falls in the right hands.

Do you have any advice for aspiring writers?

Never ever give up. It’s so much easier these days to find help there are a lot of writing sites on the internet, and internet publishers.

My thanks to Sheila for sharing her thoughts with us today.

Vic x