At the age of 43, with 3 teenage daughters and 25 years under my belt, working for the Metropolitan Police Service, I vividly remember walking into my local supermarket and spotting my sister, Dee Yates’ book for sale on the shelf. I was so excited to see it there and the sight planted a seed that very quickly, started to germinate in my mind.
Within a matter of 4 months I had penned my first book and writing had become a passion - but my writing style was poor and my punctuation non-existent. Unsurprisingly that book languished on the shelf unpublished for many years. I had a lot to learn.
Whilst serving as a police officer did not furnish me with any literary skills, it did provide me with a wide variety of people, places and procedure from which to draw. I loved my job, even though I regularly dealt with tragedy, aggression and the results of disjointed, fragmented families whose only direction in life led to drug dependency and crime.
I learnt that, occasionally police officers can be seduced into the wrong course of action, either by mistake, or by design - though I'd like to think that this is rare. My overriding interest, however, was the plight of my ‘victims’ and their need for justice. I am fascinated by what makes people tick, either as a victim of crime - or as a victim of the circumstances into which they were born and I try to see everyone as individuals.
My main protagonist, DC ‘Charlie’ Stafford is very similar to me in that way. While her boss, DI Geoffrey ‘Hunter’ is an ‘old school’ copper, determined to enforce the law, without necessarily adhering to every new protocol, Charlie has more of a human touch. She has lived through tragedy and places a high value on family life as a result.
As the youngest of nine siblings, I too place a high priority on family and am extremely lucky to have one of the best. With both parents long since dead, and having lost a much-loved brother and brother-in-law to cancer, in 2004 the remaining eight of us signed up to run the London marathon. It was both inspiring and unforgettable and with the support of a fantastic network of friends and family we were able to raise a large sum for charity. In recent years however, I have been quite happy to watch others take my place from the side of the road or the comfort of my sofa.
Having retired from the police force nearly 3 years ago I have filled my life with new challenges to provide the adrenaline I clearly miss. As well as my writing, I have stood face to face with lions and cheetahs, dived with Great White sharks, jumped off the Sky Tower in Auckland and climbed Mount Kilimanjaro.
I have met some amazing people along the way, who I am honoured to call friends, and I hope to meet many more in the course of the next few years. Life can be precarious - and I have a long bucket list which I'm hoping to reduce, before I eventually kick it.
It appears that my three daughters have inherited the bug, travelling the world, studying, and working in difficult and challenging environments. The world is getting smaller – and the chances to experience different cultures, a chance too good to miss.
I hope to travel further, but in the meantime, I'll continue to write. It may have taken a few years, and a few novels sitting on my shelf gathering dust, but I got there in the end. And so can you! Who knows, like me, you might even find a passion.