Tag Archives: friendship

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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Review: ‘Luke and Jon’ by Robert Williams

‘Luke and Jon’ is a heart-warming tale of Jon who, after the death of his mother, moves to a scruffy northern town with his almost entirely mute father who is drinking heavily. Jon meets Luke, a boy in 1950s clothes with a side parting and a twitch. The kids at school refer to Luke as “slackjaw”. Luke has a secret, though, and when Jon finds it out it changes everything for Jon and his dad.

‘Luke and Jon’ is a coming of age story about family, death, depression, friendship and redemption. Robert Williams’ debut novel is really impressively written and has a lot of heart. It’s not all doom and gloom, though, it’s heart warming and, at times, funny.

Shortlisted, rightfully, for several awards, ‘Luke and Jon’ won the Betty Trask Award – and rightfully so.

Vic x

Films to keep you entertained on a rainy weekend.

I’ve woken up this morning to torrential rain and the prospect of a miserable weekend, meteorologically speaking. Let’s face it, even if we went out and about through the day, Saturday night TV is appalling now. So I’ve come up with a list of films to keep you entertained. Not all of these will appeal to everyone but hopefully you’ll find something to keep you busy during these miserable days.

  • The Dark Knight: even without all of the hype surrounding Heath Ledger’s death, this film remains an amazing spectacle. Although I’m a total Batman nut, I reckon even non-fans would enjoy this cracking story. Order your copy here: http://amzn.to/r32Au9 
  • My Name is Khan: a little-known Bollywood film about a wonderful man with autism who finds love but goes on a quest to prove his religion’s innocence after 9/11. So moving, one of the best film I’ve ever seen. Order your copy here: http://amzn.to/oaBRcx 
  • Away We Go: a cracking indie comedy-drama about a couple trying to decide where to raise their unborn baby. A stellar cast and an unusual story. Order your copy here: http://amzn.to/nKtya3 
  • Kill Bill Vol. 1: the first Tarantino film I ever watched and what a film! It’s got a great soundtrack, in true Tarantino style and it’s really intelligent. It is full of violence and gore as well as profanities, stay away if you don’t like that stuff! The 2nd one is worth a watch to finish the story but I didn’t enjoy it anywhere near as much. Order your copy here: http://amzn.to/r84qhV 
  • Hairspray (2007): a great feel-good film with songs that will make you want to sing and dance along. It has got a very serious message at the heart of it too, it’s not all fluff. Order your copy here: http://amzn.to/qqnYeX 
  • A Lot Like Love: a chick flick but a little bit different from the usual narrative. Starring Ashton Kutcher and Amanda Peet about a couple whose relationship develops over the course of seven years. Order your copy here: http://amzn.to/rqrruV 
  • Crash (2004): Oscar-winning drama about racial and social tensions in LA. The ensemble cast and their interlinking stories paint a realistic, but quite scary, picture. Order your copy here: http://amzn.to/qCHeUO 
  • Gremlins: one of my childhood favourites although I’m not quite sure why I was allowed to watch this during my formative years. A classic set at Christmas-time, featuring lots of black humour. Order your copy here: http://amzn.to/mYs4U6 
  • One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest: Based on the Ken Kesey novel about sane people in insane places and how certain behaviour in certain settings can be misinterpreted. It also is a study on mental illness and friendship. Winner of 5 Academy Awards. The book is also a really great read. Order your copy of the DVD here: http://amzn.to/o1xkN2 
  • In The Loop: based on the wonderful ‘The Thick of It’ by Armando Iannucci, this film follows behind-the-scenes advisers who are working to prevent or promote a war in the Middle East. A great cast and a hilarious script. Order your copy here: http://amzn.to/nrrmEj 
  • V For Vendetta: a Wachowski brothers thriller based on the Alan Moore and David Lloyd comic/graphic novel. Rather 1984-esque where the totalitarian government in London rule with an iron fist but revolution is coming. Order your copy here: http://amzn.to/nhSffw 
  • The History Boys: featuring the original stage cast – including Dominic Cooper and Jame Corden – about eight grammar school boys in Sheffield in 1983 hoping to get into Oxbridge. Funny and touching. Order your copy here: http://amzn.to/p5wULQ 
  • The Hours: one to watch if you’re feeling depressed, or perhaps not. Based on the Michael Cunningham novel, it follows three women at various stages in time linked by Virginia Woolf’s ‘Mrs Dalloway’. An intricate study of mental illness. Order your copy here: http://amzn.to/ocZq0X 
  • The Shining: a writer (Jack Nicholson) accepts a job as off-season caretaker of an isolated hotel. Soon after he moves his wife and son into the hotel, they’re cut off by a snow storm and very strange things start happening. A must-see, with the lights on. Order your copy here: http://amzn.to/owEJb5 
  • Willy Wonka and The Chocolate Factory: another childhood favourite of mine. Gene Hackman embodies Willy Wonka as he invites golden ticket holders into his factory. It’s a sad, funny and ultimately uplifting story. The 2005 remake is not a patch on this. Order your copy here: http://amzn.to/q66wNK 
  • Four Lions: a really original British comedy about a group of British Jihadists who decide to blow up the London marathon. This satire is directed by Brass Eye’s Chris Morris and stars the wonderful Kayvan Novak (Phone/Facejacker). It may not be for everyone due to its subject but if you take it in the way it is intended, it really is very silly and therefore very funny. Order your copy here: http://amzn.to/pw1gVL 
  • Bobby: a fictionalised account of the hours before the assassination of Robert Kennedy at The Ambassador Hotel in LA. The film centres on a stellar ensemble cast going about their business in the hotel but is intercut with actual footage of Senator Kennedy. Order your copy here: http://amzn.to/qyupsN 
  • Donnie Darko: a mind-bending thriller starring Jake Gyllenhaal as a troubled teenager who looks for an answer to the troubling visions he’s been having. Do not bother with the sequel. Order your copy here: http://amzn.to/qUuzfX 
  • East is East: a cracking film about a mixed ethnicity family living in Lancashire in 1971. The father wants his children to behave according to traditional Pakistani rules but they’re increasingly rebellious. It’s not only funny but sad. Such an honest portrayal. Order your copy here: http://amzn.to/ppi7ep 
  • Forrest Gump: one of my all-time favourite films. Funny, moving, intelligently done. Incorporating Forrest into a series of real events was a touch of genius. Order your copy here: http://amzn.to/p8Rldr 
  • The Silence of the Lambs: based on the novel by Thomas Harris, the film focuses on Clarice Starling, a young FBI agent, who asks for Hannibal Lecter’s help in apprehending Buffalo Bill. Scary and gory, a classic. Order your copy here: http://amzn.to/nEutsI 
  • Carrie: another Stephen King adaptation. The story of a social reject who gets her revenge after being humiliated one too many times. Order your copy here: http://amzn.to/qc97WU 
  • Halloween: The first appearance of Michael Myers, one of the creepiest serial killers in cinematic history. Although I have seen every one of the franchise, this remains a classic. Order your copy here: http://amzn.to/nXdOkB 

Hope you find something that tickles your fancy…..

Vic x

Review: Bridesmaids

When I saw the critics calling this “the female Hangover” I thought it was just a buddy movie for girls. I didn’t realise it was literally going to be like ‘The Hangover’ with plenty of swearing, arguing and toilet humour. I should have known when I saw Judd Apatow’s name on the poster.

‘Bridesmaids’ focuses on Annie, a thirty-something singleton who is at a low point in her life since losing her dream bakery, her boyfriend and all of her savings. Annie shares an apartment with Matt Lucas and his crazy sister, resisting her mum’s advice to move home. Only her friendship with Lillian (played by Maya Rudolph) keeps her going. When Lillian gets engaged she asks Annie to be her maid of honour. Lilian also has her sister-in-law-to-be (the best character in the film), two other friends and her fiance’s boss’s wife – Rose Byrne plays Helen – as bridesmaids.

What follows is a silly but funny, and scarily accurate portrayal of female relationships. Helen and Annie are clearly jealous of each other’s friendship with Lillian but have to spend a lot of time together in the run-up to the wedding. Helen is rich and vain with connections Annie could only dream of. Helen gets the girls into a bridal shop without an appointment, books tickets for a hen do to Las Vegas and overrules Annie at every turn.

Throughout this, Annie is still trying to put her life together, doing a crappy job, seeing a bloke who doesn’t respect her, flirting with a guy who is so much nicer (The IT Crowd’s Chris O’Dowd) and being evicted but Lillian isn’t around to talk to.

These set-ups provide some genuinely funny and sad moments. I personally enjoyed the jokes that involved less vulgarity but that’s personal choice. I was surrounded in the cinema by women crying with laughter. What I liked about ‘Bridesmaids’ was that it was so realistic in its portrayal of women and their relationships with each other. We’ve all known a Helen and have often felt like Annie. We do have bodily functions, swear and have sex. It’s silly and sentimental – so are we.

This film will not only apply to women but also men, no mean feat.

Vic x