Good morning, my bookish peeps. I know, I’ve said it before and it bears repeating, I am incredibly pleased and honored when an author agrees to visit my blog. Today, the Book Diva’s Reads is honored to host a visit by Alex Gray, the acclaimed author of the DCI Lorimer series, including A Pound of Flesh. Ms. Gray will be providing us with some insight into how she researches her police procedurals. Without further adieu, I give you Alex Gray.
Writing the Lorimer series: How I research my police procedurals
When I knew that I wanted to write police procedurals I had no knowledge at all of what the police did to catch criminals and so I wrote to the Chief Constable in my area to ask for help. He kindly directed me to my local police station where I was shown around but something in my professional approach must have been noticed as I was then invited to visit a Divisional Headquarters where I met my first Detective Chief Inspector, the late Ronnie Beattie, a lovely man who was definitely an influence when I was describing my own DCI, William Lorimer. Coming from a position of complete ignorance has actually been to my long-term benefit as I met up not just then but in all the following years with senior police officers that gave me great insight into their work.
Nowadays I am very lucky to have the ear of a man who is currently acting head of Police Scotland and who sees my writing as an opportunity to show what the police really do. It is, he tells me, a two-way process; I find out all the details I need in order to authenticate my stories and the reading public have a chance to learn what really happens behind the scenes of a crime. So, I have been in several Scottish prisons, have talked to many different police officers and have also been to Gartcosh, the Scottish Police Campus that is the envy of every police force in Europe, housing almost twenty different facilities including forensic labs and anti-terrorist personnel.
However, my particular stories involve more than characters that are cops. Rosie Fergusson, my fictional forensic pathologist and her husband, Solomon Brightman, a senior psychologist and criminal profiler gave me pause for thought too. As I researched my debut novel, Never Somewhere Else, it was clear that I needed to visit Glasgow City Mortuary and so I wrote and asked permission to do just that. Not only did I meet with a lady pathologist but I was asked if I wished to see a post-mortem examination take place. Did I? You bet! That day will always be imprinted on my mind as the start of a journey that led me to take a course at the University of Glasgow in Forensic Medical Science and make lifelong friends with consultant pathologist, Dr. Marjorie Turner, who continues to help with each successive book. Not long after I also took an evening class in Forensic Psychology at the University and the tutor was very helpful when I was writing the next book in the series.
Perhaps the best thing I can pass on from my experience is to go and interview real experts; armed with ten good questions I would come home with twenty answers plus lots of great anecdotes. This was particularly true when researching The Riverman. Meeting the real-life Riverman, George Parsonage, gave me lots of insight into his work, a character for the book and even the title! Best of all, George has remained a good friend and faithfully comes to every successive book launch.
As a writer of contemporary fiction, I see the need to keep abreast of all the developments in policing and science that impinge on my books. Yet it is important to sprinkle the details sparingly; just enough detail to bring a story to life.
I hope to continue finding out more and more about the sort of work Lorimer does and the people he meets. Each new book brings challenges of its own and so I will be out and about, “walking the city streets and touching the stones” as a writer friend often says.
Write about what you know, is an often-quoted phrase yet, had I followed that advice I would never have found such joy in writing police procedurals and meeting so many folk who have given me help with research along the way.
on Tour November 6 – December 6, 2017
In the depths of a freezing winter, Glasgow finds itself at the mercy of not one, but two serial killers
This is Detective Inspector Lorimer’s worst nightmare and beyond anything he’s faced in his many years on the force. Can he find a link between the brutal slaying of prostitutes in the back streets of the city and the methodical killing of several unconnected businessmen?
When the latest victim turns out to be a prominent Scottish politician, the media’s spotlight is shone on Lorimer’s investigation. Psychologist and criminal profiler Solly Brightman is called in to help solve the cases, but his help may be futile as they realize that someone on the inside is leaking confidential police information. Meanwhile two killers haunt the snowy streets and Lorimer must act fast, before they strike again…
Genre: Mystery & Detective
Published by: Witness Impulse
Publication Date: November 7th 2017
Number of Pages: 368
ISBN: 0062659227 (ISBN13: 9780062659224)
Series: DCI Lorimer #9
Purchase Links: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads
Alex Gray was born and educated in Glasgow. After studying English and Philosophy at the University of Strathclyde, she worked as a visiting officer for the Department of Health, a time she looks upon as postgraduate education since it proved a rich source of character studies. She then trained as a secondary school teacher of English. Alex began writing professionally in 1993 and had immediate success with short stories, articles, and commissions for BBC radio programs. She has been awarded the Scottish Association of Writers’ Constable and Pitlochry trophies for her crime writing. A regular on the Scottish bestseller lists, she is the author of fourteen DCI Lorimer novels. She is the co-founder of the international Scottish crime writing festival, Bloody Scotland, which had its inaugural year in 2012.
Visit the other great hosts on this tour for more great reviews, interviews, guest posts, and giveaways!
This is a rafflecopter giveaway hosted by Partners in Crime Virtual Book Tours for Alex Gray and Witness Impulse. There will be 3 winner of one (1) eBook copy of Alex Gray’s Sleep Like the Dead. The giveaway begins on November 6 and runs through December 10, 2017.
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