Thrilled to have been asked to take part in Mike Thomas‘ Ash and Bones blog tour!! I have included a synopsis of this book, before I hand you over to the man himself for a pretty damn good Guest Post!! Woohoo!!
A cop killer on the loose in Cardiff – introducing a dark and gritty new voice in crime fiction, perfect for fans of Stuart MacBride and David Mark.
At a squalid flat near the Cardiff docks, an early morning police raid goes catastrophically wrong when the police aren’t the only unexpected guests. A plain clothes officer is shot dead at point blank range, the original suspect is left in a coma. The killer, identity unknown, slips away.
Young and inexperienced, Will MacReady starts his first day on the CID. With the city in shock and the entire force reeling, he is desperate to help - but unearths truths that lead the team down an increasingly dark path…
Guest Post: Five Ways Being a Writer is Like Being a Police Officer
1. Endless paperwork, reams of notes and duplication. Despite what shows on the goggle box would have you believe, a good eighty percent of your time as a plod will be spent filling in forms. Or writing statements. Or filling in forms. Or typing reports for the CPS/Inspector/Social Services. Or, y’know, filling in forms. There are hundreds upon hundreds of forms in the police, from MG case file paperwork to Domestic Violence pro formas to tiny evidence labels that you will stick or staple to exhibit bags, stolen property and even your colleague’s sunglasses when she’s out of the parade room. Then you will have to duplicate everything – your pocket notebook, your FT65 accident booklet, your MisPer report – when you type it onto one of the six or seven different systems the force runs, from Niche to Captor to VISOR to HOLMES2 and beyond, just so you cover yourself and don’t get into bother with the Command Team. Once you’ve done all this you can go to a call, where the member of the public will complain about how long it took you to arrive and that ‘all you coppers just sit around in the station all day’. Which is nice.
2. Isolation. As with writing – sitting alone in your garret flat, honing your literary masterpiece while eating cold beans straight from a tin – police work means spending a lot of time on your own shoving awful supermarket sandwiches into your face. Solo patrol in van or response car. Guarding a crime scene overnight. Waiting for relatives to turn up at a Sudden Death. Sitting in a sweltering side room in Magistrates, waiting for the Very Important Solicitors to finish arguing about the case, which they will then settle before trial even though they cancelled your one day off that month to ensure you were on hand to give evidence. Just in case, like. You have to enjoy your own company with police work. Yes, there’s camaraderie, and the occasional bit of fun to be had – usually at the expense of senior management – but you need to like yourself quite a bit. You’re going to be spending a lot of time with you. And you can’t text people, or read a book, or practise the Macarena, as a member of the public will ring 999 – the emergency line! – to complain about you. And then your inspector will punish you by making you guard a crime scene overnight, thereby continuing the cycle of solitude plus aching feet/legs/lower back.
3. Tea or coffee. Writers can down significant amounts of caffeine-infused hot drinks. ‘Couple of espressos and I’m ready for that manuscript!’ they tweet. ‘2k words done, time for tea and cake! #cake’ is another one. Police officers are no different. Start of the shift? Pot of tea for the crew. Twenty minutes later and it’s the end of the briefing? Another pot of tea. First call of the night completed? Back to the nick for a brew, lads! Drop a file off at HQ? Cafeteria for a hot mug of java. This results in many a plod resembling a bloated, skin-covered tea urn, stomach swashing and gurgling while they deal with your Theft of House Plants incident. The upside for all coppers is that they possess massively impressive bladder control, and on a rare evening off can easily down sixteen pints of lager, go to bed, and not have to get up for a wee. All. Night.
4. Critics. My thoughts on writing and putting it out there? You stick your head above the parapet, you’ve got to take whatever comes at you. Bad reviews. Glassy eyes and yawns during a reading. Nobody turning up to your book signing because you’re ‘a bit boring, really.’ I’ve learned to shrug and accept it as part of the biz called ‘show’. I’ve also – after twenty plus years as a cop – learned that whatever you are and whatever you do, some people will just not like you very much. The difference with the police is the scale and level of vitriol, and the fact that people hate you and want to seriously harm you… just for wearing a silly hat. You can argue that you were only seven when the Miners’ Strike took place. That you are a Liverpool fan and it was your twelfth birthday when Hillsborough occurred. That you weren’t involved in the Stephen Lawrence investigation, and you didn’t push Tomlinson over nor shoot De Menezes dead on the Tube. That you’ve been assaulted six times already this year, that you’re late for a burglary call because you’ve just been telling a young couple that their baby has died in hospital, that your wife has run off with the next door neighbour because the only time she ever saw you was when you were sleeping off one of your shifts. Nobody cares. This has been an invaluable lesson, and prepared me for life as a writer. Rejections? Whatever, you’ve spent years being told to fuck off by members of the public. Scathing reviews? Beats someone trying to bite the end of your nose off during a pub brawl. Stuck at the dreaded 35,000 word point where you have literally lost the plot of your novel and can’t even recall your protagonist’s name? Beats skin slippage! (see below, if you dare)
5. The reeking corpse of the first draft. I hated Sudden Death calls. Especially the fruity ones, when you rock up at a house where the neighbours haven’t seen the occupant for weeks and your heart sinks when you see the pile of unopened letters on the floor in the hallway and a hundred bluebottles swarm against the front window, desperate to escape the foul stench within. Picking up corpses, I’ve had putrid skin slough off under my fingernails (if you’re a bit weird, Google ‘skin slippage’). An arm come off at the shoulder. A dog eat its deceased owner’s face and throat, until it could bury its snout into her chest cavity. This is a terribly dramatic way of telling you that I compare all my first drafts to rotten cadavers that – even after weeks of them festering on my hard drive – I do not want to lay hands on. They are bloated, vile, gas-filled lumps – but they are not real bloated, vile, gas-filled lumps. Nothing compares to that. So I tell myself that I have dealt with far, far worse than the 100,000 word mess in front of me, and it drives me on, and I gingerly prod and poke (hoping that nothing pops or runs or bursts open and showers me with the unimaginable) until before long I am like a pathologist. Cutting, stripping, weighing and measuring. Getting right to the guts of it. Taking it all apart and examining everything, before putting it all back together again – neatly, cleanly, professionally – so the people who matter can see it with their own eyes.
Thanks, Noelle! Hope you enjoy…
AWESOME post! Thanks so much Mike! I cannot wait to read this beauty! Not long now! And if you like what you have read, click the link below!
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