When I first walked into a newspaper’s newsroom in 1966, I had no idea that more than half a century later I’d have written a series of mysteries based on the adventures of a crime reporter.

Chindi author, Peter Bartram, author of the Colin Crampton series

It’s hard to know where it all started. Perhaps it was back in 2014 when, after 40 years as a freelance, I decided I needed a new challenge. I’d spent those freelance years writing thousands of articles for newspapers and magazines. I’d covered stories in places as diverse as 700-feet down a coal mine and a courtier’s chambers in Buckingham Palace.

I’d written more than 20 non-fiction books. Some of them I’d ghost-written for clients who’d included a member of parliament, an Arab businessman, and an IT entrepreneur. I’d written a handful of short stories – and a radio play. So, what next?

I’d always been a fan of crime fiction since, aged 14, I’d discovered a copy of The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes in a second-hand bookshop. My first thought was to write a series based on two ill-matched characters. It’s a common trope in crime fiction. Think Holmes and Watson, Dalziel and Pascoe, Poirot and Hastings. The trouble was I couldn’t think of anything original. It seemed every combination of ill-matched policemen or private eyes had been done.

Then I realised the answer was staring me in the face. I would make my protagonist a crime reporter on a newspaper. I’d set him in the 1960s – the Swinging Sixties – and I’d locate him in Brighton. And, so, Colin Crampton, crime reporter on the Evening Chronicle, was born. It wasn’t hard to invent his wizened relic of a news editor, Frank Figgis, his feisty Australian girlfriend Shirley Goldsmith, and his dragon landlady Beatrice “the Widow” Gribble. The cast of characters just grew as I plumbed my memories of journalism back in those pre-computer days. Some of the plots are based on experiences I’ve had during a lifetime in journalism. And I’ve told the tales with a dash of humour.

The first three books in the series – starting with Headline Murder – were published by a “conventional” publisher. But the later books – including three free to download – I’ve published independently. It’s quicker, more flexible, and gives me as author more control. It’s great to find a community of like-minded author-publishers in CHINDI.

If you’d like to pick up your first free book in the series – Murder in Capital Letters – visit my website at www.colincrampton.com.