Thrilled to be taking part in this blog tour with a fantastic guest post from author of Into The Valley– Chris Clement-Green!! First let’s find out a bit about the author and her book!
About The Author
In 2007 Chris Clement-Green won the National Associations of Writer’s Group short story award which encouraged her to undertake courses in creative writing and advanced creative writing with The Open University, which she passed with distinction. In 2013 Chris was accepted onto an MA in Creative Writing at Bath Spa University gaining a meritorial pass, and in 2014 she was offered a place at Oxford University’s Summer School for creative writing. Chris has had many letters and articles published as well as being shortlisted and highly commended in several national short story competitions. She has also had her work published in several anthologies and, most recently, was asked to write an article for The New Guard Volume 5, a literary magazine published in New York at the end of September 2016. This was followed by a short story in Fantasia Divinity Magazine in October 2016, and Chris was also a finalist in The Women in Comedy Festival in 2016. Having completed her debut novel The Soft Tread of Vengeance, Chris is now working on the first of a series of crime novels – Come Join The Murder.
Chris has recently been signed by Mirror Books who will be publishing her police memoir ‘Into The Valley’ in August 2017.
Chris has taught and coached her whole life, from competitive dressage at an advanced level to training police officers from recruits to senior officers. Her coaching style is focussed but always fun, aiming to bring out the best in each of her writers.
About The Book
Encouraged by the sizeable pay increase and high divorce rate, Chris decided that answering a recruitment ad for the Thames Valley Police was just the thing for a much-needed overhaul of her life. It was 1984, a time before political correctness, at the height of the miner’s strike and in the middle of five years of race riots. Perfect timing. Expanding her police knowledge, and her love life, undeterred by sexist remarks and chauvinists she decided to make her mark, kissing goodbye to her previous dull and conventional existence.
Chris captures the colourful characters and humour in the situations she found herself in, but the job had its serious side, too. She was at the centre of a riot in Oxford, during which her life was saved by a young black man she had previously stopped and questioned, and was attacked by a man with mental-health problems – a consequence of the decision to move ‘care’ into ‘the community’.
Consistently coming up against the effects of Margaret Thatcher’s politics; from miner’s picket-lines, covering (poorly) for striking paramedics during the ambulance dispute to everyday drunken disturbances caused by the haves (Yuppies and Oxford students) and the have-nots (alcoholic homeless and unemployed youth), Chris also tackled sex crimes and abuse.
An often humorous, always candid and no-holds-barred reflection of the life of a policewoman in the 80s, this book offers a personal account of a life in uniform, while touching on the Newbury Bypass demos, the effects of Scarman, the Hungerford Massacre, the bombing of Libya, the AIDS epidemic and working under the notorious Ali Dizaei.
The biggest thing publication of Into the Valley has taught me, is that experts can sometimes talk crap.
In 2012 I applied to do an MA in Creative Writing and submitted an extract of my draft memoir, Blues Twos and Teddy-bears: A memoir of female policing in the 1980’s. It was good enough to get me an interview, but at this interview the Director of Studies suggested that I should turn my proposed manuscript into a novel. I was reluctant to do this as I believed the fact that this WPC’S experiences were all true would be the book’s unique selling point. Like every adult who lived through Thatcher’s Britain, I had witnessed immense social change; but my viewpoint was unique as it came from inside a still sexist, racist and homophobic police force. Once you turned that fact into Juliet-Bravo type-fiction I felt it would lose all its impact and importance. So, I held my ground and was the only person on that years MA course to do ‘life-writing’ instead of fiction.
When the MA anthology was launched at a party for agents and publishers, all the people I spoke to said they loved ‘my voice’ and tight writing style, but a non-celebrity memoir was a commercial non-starter – had I thought about turning it into a novel? I got tipsy enough to tell one or two people I might try that, but in the cold light of the following day I knew I wouldn’t. So, I put the completed manuscript away and continued my writing education by entering short story competitions and starting my debut novel – The Soft Tread of Vengeance – a police procedural-thriller.
Then, in January of this year, I read an article in Writing Magazine from Jo Sollis, an editor at Mirror Books, who was actually asking for submissions of real-life memoir! I dug out Blues Twos and Teddy-bears and re-edited the first three chapters, before emailing them to Jo. Twenty-four hours later I received another email asking to see the whole manuscript. A week later, after re-editing the rest of the book, I sent the whole thing off to Jo and she emailed me back the following morning requesting a meeting. There, I was offered a contract on what was subsequently re-titled Into the Valley. During this meeting, Jo confirmed what I had always thought – there is a huge appetite for non-celebrity memoirs; particularly those relating to the emergency services.
Publication turned out to be a relatively easy and painless process (apart from a few arguments over the cover design). I’d had a long wait, but my book is now out in the big, wide world – my story, told my way. One recurring thought had kept my memoir a memoir. How many publishers and agents had made the gigantic mistake of turning down JK Rowling not to mention many other literary prize-winning manuscripts? They are fallible individuals and, even when there appears to be a census of opinion, writers should find the courage to stick to their guns.
My thanks to the author, Mirror Books and Laura Summers of Book Machine for asking me to take part in the blog tour and shout out about Into The Valley! Follow the rest of the tour here: