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.
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.