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.

Advertisements

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

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