The Writing Life of: R.C. Bridgestock
This week I am thrilled to be interviewing authors R.C. Bridgestock. R.C. Bridgestock will be sharing with us details of their writing life, telling us all about their new book ‘Persecution‘, which was released on 8th July 2021, and answering a few fun questions. This post contains affiliate links.
Former Head of CID Bob Bridgestock is now an international best selling author, along with his wife Carol who also worked for WYP as a civilian employee. The couple, who write under the pen name of R.C. Bridgestock, were voted WHS Readers #8 Best Crime Authors of All Time.
The writing duo created the character DI Jack Dylan, a detective from Harrowfield; presently there are nine books in the Dylan series and 2020 saw the launch of a new series starring a feisty, Yorkshire female Detective Inspector, Charley Mann.
The couple are the credited storyline consultants/police procedural on BAFTA winning BBC1 police drama Happy Valley, and Netflix first original drama The Beast Must Die, as well as other police dramas.
Presently Carol & Bob are working with scriptwriter Gaby Chiappe on another police drama.
As Directors, and Co-Founders of Walking The Line Ltd they are working on Bridgestock a six part docu/drama, as well as the Forbidden Love drama.
1) Did you enjoy writing when you were a child?
Carol: I loved reading as a child, but it wasn’t until English Literature and English Language class at ‘O’ Level that I began my love of writing – all down to Miss Smith. She opened my eyes to the literary world with her dedication and passion for the subject. Miss Smith was the tweed suited ‘Miss Brodie’ of Sowerby Bridge Grammar School.
Bob: No, in fact I was rather concerned about my English teacher at Morley Grammar. I thought she had been given an abundance of free red ink for the amount that she had used on my homework! I left before my mock exams to take up an apprenticeship as a butcher.
2) Which author shaped your childhood?
Carol: Enid Blyton, no question. I was lucky to live many an adventure as did ‘The Famous Five’ when we moved to live in a little village on the south coast called Milford-On-Sea, I was 7 years old. My Mum would say ‘you kids go outside and play,’ and we did the rest! Such play didn’t involve much in the way of props, just imagination and energy. Our ‘five’ mainly involved hopscotch, tree climbing, jumping rope, bike riding, hide and seek, and a rowing boat to get to our playground that was Hurst Castle – long before English Heritage took it over.
Bob: I was presented Huckleberry Finn at Sunday school. I can’t remember if he did finish painting the fence, but it did make me wonder which character I would be in an attempt to emancipate myself. Huck desires to break free from the constraints of society, both physical and mental, while Jim is fleeing a life of literal enslavement.
3) What motivated you to begin your first novel?
The pivotal motivational moment for Deadly Focus came after a talk we did at the Earl Mountbatten Hospice. I had always wanted Bob to write his life story for the children so they would know, and appreciate why Dad wasn’t always around. But, he said that he would never write about the real crime because the victims were the ones serving the life sentence.
Karen Eeles, the Hospice fundraising manager had a solution. ‘Why not write fiction then?’
We were supposed to talk to the volunteers for forty minutes that day. However, the audience refused a comfort break, or tea and cake, but they did want more, and we ended up staying for four hours! As well as Karen, the audience repeatedly told us, ‘You two should write a book’.
Forty-seven-years’ service in the police force between us, and serendipity, brought that to fruition – we had, and still have, many stories to tell.
The next day was a Friday, and an advert in the local press, postcard size, offered a six-week course at the college on the Isle of Wight to ‘Write Your First Novel’.
The rest as they say is history…
4) Do you plot your book, or are you a pantser?
Bob plots, and writes the first draft of all the books, written by way of a police file/procedural. From the body being found, to the perpetrator being ready to put before the court with all that entails.
Carol: I write, and weave in the underlying storyline, the second thread. Not so much these days, but I still have to draw the emotion from Bob. I set the scenes, mould and rename the characters. Something that Bob finds hard to do is to ‘get too close in case he shows emotion. The mask of the detective sits firmly in place.
5) What is your average writing day?
Bob writes, and writes, and writes, hardly coming up for air. If I tell you that he wrote the first draft of Deadly Focus in long-hand during our six-week college course, and it was 120,000 words long, you get my drift. I know this because I typed the MS up.
Because it read like one of the crime files I was used to putting together for court I started working on it, but this time as a fictional story.
Once the first draft is handed to me Bob may not write for days, weeks! He likes the flexibility that this offers him as he is able to be reactive for calls from the media for his views on police/crime issues, on hand for advice, and story-lining and consulting with scriptwriters for TV/radio drama.
On the other hand, I like structure to my day. If I’m not writing then I am doing something like Stacey’s questionnaire. Or, I’m working on social media. But, I’m mostly writing. I can usually be found in the office from ten in the morning until about six o’clock at night. Although, if I get an idea in my head, or a storyline won’t allow me to sleep then I can be found here at silly o’clock!
6) What is the best thing about being an author?
Definitely our readers, many of whom we have met and some who now appear as characters in our books.
We also auction ‘be a character’ in our next book to raise money for charity. This allows the winner to work with us, if they wish, on the character’s traits and their storyline to make them as authentic as possible. Some people choose to remember a loved one who loved crime fiction in this way, others bid for a special birthday surprise, a wedding gift, an anniversary, or they may have themselves always wanted to be a detective, police officer, CSI, judge, barrister, lawyer etc.
The DI Jack Dylan series alone has raised in the region of 10k for several charities over the years, and the DI Charley Mann has started in the same vein.
Working with charities is something that we both wanted to do when we left West Yorkshire Police, although we thought this would be by doing a little gardening, and using my hairdressing and therapy expertise!
DI Charley Mann Book 3
Publisher – Canelo
Pages – 266
Release Date – 8th July 2021
ISBN 13 – 978-1800325029
Format – ebook, paperback
Lock your windows. Lock your door. And don’t look outside…
At the local university a series of incidents is raising alarm. Someone is breaking into students bedrooms through the windows.
But things get even more serious when a corpse is discovered on the outskirts of town. DI Charley Mann, dealing with her own problems, is drafted in to investigate. At first there doesn’t seem to be a connection, but Charley suspects otherwise.
Following the evidence draws Charley into a web of shady local characters struggling at the margins. It seems the break-ins are no random event. Worse, more lives are at stake.
On her own, and facing a stand off, Charley will have to find a way through. It’s either that, or more people will die…
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7) How did you go about researching the content for your book?
The crime stories in the book(s) may be fictional, although they are based loosely on real life incidents that Bob has dealt with. The research for this is minimal, usually to keep up with today’s terminology and techniques because in essence Bob has lived and breathed the enquiries. The procedure is a tried and tested formula for an SIO. We show how an investigation pans-out in the true life police procedural, with all the twists, turns, and distractions along the way.
In terms of the characters in the DI Charley Mann – how many police officers/detectives do you know who believe in Hobgoblins? I’ve absolutely loved researching the Yorkshire folklore and superstitions which are contrary to a detective’s thought process. I’ve immersed myself in books, visited museums, spoken to folklorists and even recently revisited Mother Shipton’s cave in Knaresborough. The roads around our new home are named – Hob Lane, Boggart Lane … It feels like serendipity.
8) How long did it take to go from the ideas stage to writing the last word?
If we sat at our desk all day, every day, a book would take us about six months to complete. However, this also depends on the time of year, what’s going on in life – for instance this year we have moved house – and how much other work we have, deadlines etc.
We are consultants for TV drama. This year we saw our work come to the big screen with Netflix’s original drama, ‘The Beast Must Die’ written by Gaby Chiappe. Presently we are working on another drama with Gaby, two of our own, and a documentary. So, watch this space!
9) What made you choose the genre you write in?
They said, ‘Write what you know…’ so we did!
10) How did you come up with the name(s) for your lead character(s)?
Jack Dylan – two of our friends were having babies, both boys, one was named Jack and the other Dylan! Why make things difficult?
Charley Mann – one of our former colleagues is called Charley Mann. We met up with him and his partner when the series was in its infancy. We think Charley Mann fits our feisty, Yorkshire lass perfectly, don’t you?
11) Can you give us an insight into your characters?
Where to begin!
Charley Mann left Yorkshire for the Met and a fast-track career – but now she’s back, she’s in charge and the area’s first youngest, female DI. Her hometown, the Yorkshire countryside. Her old friends all seem unchanged, but appearances can be deceptive. Charley’s best friend Kristine has known since she was knee high to a grasshopper. She shares with her the love of horses, and she joined the police due to Kristine’s Dad’s influence. Marty is a police officer and now works on the front desk at Peel Street.
Danny Ray is her childhood sweetheart – the local reporter, and until recent events was her fiancé.
Charley spent a lot of her youth on her Grandparents farm. She spent many hours in her grandmother’s kitchen, and on her grandfather’s knee listening to Yorkshire folklore/superstitions – and contrary to a detectives dealing in facts – she believes.
Being a woman in a male dominated world (despite the formal approach), Charley has been mocked and belittled in her working life and has had to fight every step of the way to get and maintain her standing. One thing Charley isn’t, and that’s a quitter. She’s level headed – she also keeps an open mind.
Farming is a hard life – Charley has seen that many don’t. She’s been taught how to wring a chicken’s neck, shoot an animal humanely – she has blood on her hands.
How many police officers do you know who believe in Hobgoblins?
12) How did you feel when you had completed your book?
A mixture of feelings. There’s considerable satisfaction to have completed a goal. If it’s a book in a series, we already have the outline for the next. So there’s no sense of loss because the interaction with the characters that we’ve spent months, even years in the company of, discovering how they react, and feel is only frozen temporarily. I say created, but in reality it feels more like they’ve always been there, and the writing task is documenting their lives rather than inventing them.
1) Do you have a favourite quote you live by?
Live to work, don’t work to live!
2) Do you have any pets?
One of five pups to Belle, Vegas is our English Springer Spaniel and she is 16 years old in November. This was the first and the last time we have bred dogs. The main reason for this is that we found it very difficult to let them go … Luckily, all went to family and friends and were blessed with a wonderful life – never ailing much and living until they were 14/15 years of age. Dory, the fifth, went on to become an agility dog for Pets at Home demos. They were all very much loved.
Dylan. What can we say about Dylan? Serendipity brought Nando into our lives in 2021. A four-year-old Golden Retriever abandoned on a highway in Hungary, he was thankfully rescued by Wags and Wet Noses dog rescue and adoption. For us it was love at first sight.
3) What’s on your current reading list?
Slightly ashamed to say neither of us read the crime genre unless for work purposes. We would both rather read factual books. I also quite like an autobiography. But, I also loved Diane Gabaldon’s Outlander series which I am glad to say, in my opinion, is just as good on TV.
4) Your book has been made into a feature film, you’ve been offered a cameo role, what would you be doing?
At a table eating good food and drinking fine wine whilst others deal with the aftermath, and the culprits to the murder!
5) If you could travel to the fictional world of any book for the day, which would you choose?
Cross Stitch – Outlander 1 – Scotland
6) There’s a penguin sitting in your writing chair, what is the first thing he says to you?
Carol: ‘I’m part of a study to experience novel climates. Yours looks interesting… ‘
Bob: ‘I hope you’ve brought coffee!’
I would like to say a big thank you to R.C. Bridgestock for sharing with us details of their writing life and for a wonderful interview.