Writing a police procedural was never on my list of ‘books I must write,’ if I’m completely honest. When I wrote The Lie She Told, I touched on police procedures briefly towards the end, and I can remember now feeling trepidation as I did so. I think I might be a bit ‘old skool’ as the kids would say, but the police were people to be respected, looked up to and maybe even feared a little. I blame my parents. We had a local bobby where I lived in Leeds and if he was seen in our little street, he was always used as a threat that we had to be on our best behaviour or the bobbies would take us away.
So I guess this has been my mindset for as long as I can remember. Police officers were there to keep us safe, using whatever mysterious powers they possessed – and who knew what they did every day? Back then (1970s) we only heard of them when a house had been burgled or a body had been found (the Yorkshire Ripper was major news when I was growing up).
Of course, I’m not seven years old anymore and over the years I’ve learnt that their jobs are much more involved than turning up a crime scene, marshalling a football match or pulling you over for speeding.
But who am I to write about such revered individuals? Their world is so far removed from mine; what did I know about the arrest procedure? Who am I to write about forensics and crime scene investigations? And what the hell does a major crime unit even do all day, wait around for some poor unfortunate to be murdered?
Being the nosey type that I am, I decided to discover out more about the dark arts of criminal procedures and process. I bought books; I watched online workshops and through my wonderful editor, Rebecca Millar I was introduced to police advisor Graham Bartlett. A quick look at his website – Police Advisor – I discovered he is an advisor to some top writers (Peter James no less) and has worked on TV scripts for some top UK crime dramas (all of which I have watched). Feeling brave one day, I reached out to him on Twitter and when the time was right, I arranged a one-to-one chat with him.
What a lovely bloke – honestly. Super friendly, down to earth, and didn’t bamboozle me with jargon. He patiently listened to my rather amateur questions and gave me excellent advice. Not only that, but as he’s a writer himself Graham completely understood where I was coming from and suggested ways in which I could make my rebellious character, D I Ziggy Thornes work. Graham totally got that some of the ‘rules’ had to be moveable to keep with the pace of the story, but the major thing that he brought was AUTHENTICITY, something that is paramount to any crime writer, let alone one who was just starting out.
Graham works with the Professional Writing Academy and regularly delivers workshops where he collaborates with his network of contacts, and through these I have discovered the fabulous Kate Benedelow (Crime Scene Investigator and author), Brian Price (Crime Writers Science), Neil White (Lawyer and best-selling author) – all of which have provided invaluable advice when it came to writing my latest book, The Web They Wove.
What Graham, his courses and all his colleagues have done is give me the assurance to write books and explore plot lines that I would probably have never tried. I feel better able to push the boundaries of my writing, and take it further. I know that should I have a question or procedures that I am not sure of, I have a bank of professionals I can turn to.
If you’re a crime writer then of course I recommend Graham, so much so that we have collaborated to run a competition on Twitter.
Simply follow myself (@catherineyaffe) and go to the pinned tweet on my profile. Make sure you’re also following Graham (gbpoliceadvisor) and give the pinned post a retweet. On Friday 28th May we will select a winner at random, and you will win a free 121 session with Graham.
The Web They Wove will be available on Amazon as Kindle, paperback or hardback from 28th May 2021.