Ian retired from policing two years ago, after nearly thirty years service, mostly as a detective. He has investigated everything from theft to murder. He enjoys photography, drums and being outside. Ian is married with children and lives in Scotland with his springer spaniel that keeps him active along with an outdoor lifestyle. When he’s not writing you can find him on Twitter!
When did you know that you wanted to be a writer? How did you start?
I’ve been writing, on and off, for the last fifteen years. I don’t know when I got started! I’ve never thought about that until now. I think it started with a story in my head and I completed the first draft of a novel in over thirteen years. That novel may never see the light of day. It was a learning experience that led me to start the one I currently have on submission.
Can you tell us a little about what kind of book(s) you’ve written so far?
My debut novel has a working title of Rubicon. The opening chapter was shortlisted in 2015 by No Exit Press in a competition to find a new voice for their publishing house. I didn’t win but did get the confidence to continue. If you like your crime dark, gritty and real then you will enjoy it. The question I asked myself is – what if? Some rules are there to be broken. In the world of policing and crime the end game can change.
What genre(s) do you write in? What is it that you love about them?
I write crime/thriller. It works for me because I spent twenty-eight years as a police officer in London and most of those as a detective. I’m retired now as I joined at 19! It doesn’t make you a great writer but it does give you a feel for the subject! I wouldn’t recommend writing what you know but it has felt ok for me. Many great writers have produced work where they have had no experience, of the subject matter, but you feel as though you’re in the page.
What is your preferred path to publication?
Right now I’m pursuing a traditional route to publication. I’m open-minded though and can see the benefit in both traditional and self-publication. I have friends who have used both routes, with success, so time will tell for me. I believe writers should choose a route that suits them, their work and the time they have to promote it.
How have you found the submission/querying process so far?
A road of rejection. There is nothing fun about the submission process and if you can’t take criticism, or cope with negative feelings of self doubt, then don’t do it! This writers life has to be a MUST not a MAYBE. I have had my fair share of critics in my previous job so have a somewhat hardened resolve to it but it still smarts when your work is knocked back or criticised. That’s why it’s crucial to enjoy the love of writing and don’t get hung up on this area. I have had some positive feedback though. Agents and publishers may like your writing but the novel isn’t for them.
All writers are readers so who are some of your favourite authors and why?
I read lots of books across many genres and that helps with my writing as well as exposing me to some amazing authors. I enjoy reading Cormac McCarthy for his style of language and dialogue. Chuck Palahniuk for his crazy mind and concepts. Stephen king because, well, who doesn’t enjoy a book by him! As far as crime goes I was introduced to the genre through reading Ed McBain and he is my all time favourite. His writing is incredible as is Jim Thompson. Two great crime writers.
What inspires your ideas? How do you come up with them?
Reality! I write from the hip and hold no punches. My writing is brief, raw, and ideas just come up at the moment. I hope this lasts or my career could be a short one. I do use my past experiences as a source of inspiration and ideas, but policing changes so much you can’t always rely on them. Sometimes the best books have emanated from the most simple of human observation and that’s where I tend to start.
Do you outline or write by the seat of your pants?
I have a start and a finish, nothing more. I let the characters and situation develop and go with it from there. In reality crime isn’t straight forward. There is always a backstory to each situation. You may end up with the same crime file at the end but the route to get there differs.
What does a typical writing day look like for you/what is your process?
I grab three hours each day when I take my daughter to play group. The hall has a side room and I go in there and get on with it. Time is precious to me and I take each section of it with thanks. I don’t have a process as yet as I’m a newbie and this will need some developing.
What have been some of the biggest lessons you’ve learned on your writing journey so far?
To accept criticism with a willingness to change.
When I first joined the police, in the late eighties, this was part of a statement of common purpose. We had to learn the whole statement and this is the only part I can remember now! It is so true though. The critic may be right! If my first novel weren’t so honestly critiqued I wouldn’t have written the one I have on submission now.
What advice do you have for aspiring writers about writing? What about the process of trying to get published?
Enjoy it. When we stop doing what we value in life then we may as well be dead. Don’t sweat the process and don’t get precious about it all, just write and see where it takes you. The route to publication changes all the time and now more than ever the options available are greater. Where you can, get to know the writing community around you and attend events. Don’t be stuck behind a screen, get out there. Life is brief and writing is a very small part of it.
SUCH GREAT ADVICE!!
Anything else you would like to add or talk about?
Thanks for the opportunity and I wish you every success with your current book.
Thank you so much! Where can people find out more about you and your books?
On Twiiter @imdambassador