I’m delighted to welcome Robin Roughley, author of the DS Lasser crime novels, to talk about writing, books and the future.
Please tell me a little about yourself.
My name is Robin Roughley, author of the DS Lasser crime series, I live in Wigan in the North West of England and I have been a full-time writer since 2013.
When did you first realise you wanted to be a writer?
I suppose I have always dabbled with writing although finding a way into the traditional publishing world was and always has been a difficult thing to achieve. I initially started out writing plays this was mainly down to my love of dialogue and then I reached the point where I felt ready to attempt something more ambitious.
What do you enjoy most about being a writer and why?
The most pleasurable aspect is the writing itself, building a novel that hopefully keeps the reader turning the pages. I also enjoy spending time with the characters which is a bonus.
What do you enjoy least?
The thing I enjoy the least would have to be the editing process, I am fine doing one or two round of edits but it does start to wear thin after a while. I have a brilliant editor/proof-reader named Val who helps enormously with the work.
What inspired you to create the DS Lasser novels?
To be honest I never set out to write a crime novel. Originally The Needle House was going to be a paranormal thriller, though I soon realised that the original plot wasn’t working. Lasser appeared around page seventy so I brought him forwards to chapter two and it all made sense. I think the fact that I knew nothing about how the police force functions had led me to avoid the traditional crime novel but in the end I figured I was telling a fictional story and I approached it that way with scant regard to how a real DS would function in the real world.
Why did you choose a Detective Sergeant rather than a Detective Inspector?
I think I made him a DS because I wanted him to be the man in the middle, I wanted him to be pushed and pulled in different directions by those above him. Plus the fact he has been offered promotion more than once and he turns it down, he likes being exactly where he is in the hierarchy.
How has your writing changed since you started the DS Lasser series?
Hopefully it has got better as time progresses, writing is like any other job the more you practice then the better you should get. I have also learned over the thirteen books that the ones I like the best do not always match what the reader likes. So all you can do is try to please yourself and hope that the reader is on the same wavelength.
How much of you is there in DS Lasser?
To be honest very little, what I have tried to do is imbue Lasser with the characteristics that I admire the most but sadly lack. I think that is what most writers do, they write the type of main character they would like to be.
Why did you choose to self-publish the series?
The people who actually choose to self-publish are few and far between. For people around my age it is usually done as a last resort after numerous rejection letters from agents and publishing houses. Also, with the rise of Amazon and others it became possible to do it yourself, something that hadn’t been available when I first started. Go back fifteen years and all a would-be writer had was a handful of agents who would take a look at an unsolicited manuscript. Normally you would print out the first three chapters and send them off and then wait three to six months for the rejection letter to fall through the door. Thankfully, those days are now gone and you can bypass the need for anything traditional and do it yourself.
Where do you get your ideas?
To be honest all I consider when starting a new novel is the first chapter. If you get that right then the rest will follow, you have to pose a problem and then try to solve it. I never plan anything. I have tried that approach but soon wandered off the path and vanished into the trees so it became pointless
trying to work to a framework for me.
Do you have a writing routine? Where do you work?
I work from home, in the kitchen to be precise. I normally start between half-seven and eight and work till around six, with about three breaks in between. When you self-publish you normally have more than one book on the go so there is always something to be done, be it writing or
editing or using social media to try and encourage people to try the books.
How do you feel now, looking back at when you started?
It feels great to have a body of work out there that people seem to really enjoy. Initially I just
concentrated on the writing as I knew that to make this work I would have to have a good few books out there for people to find. I did very little in the way of promotion but thankfully the readers have been brilliant at spreading the word and that has helped tremendously.
What’s the best compliment you’ve had about your books?
I have had people tell me they have cried and laughed as they read the books and feel emotionally drained at the end. That is always wonderful to hear as it means I am doing my job and also that the reader is doing theirs. It is a two-way thing and the reader has to engage their imagination and come along for the ride.
Do you have a favourite author you’d like to tell me about?
To be honest I don’t really have the time to read these days. I know many authors say that you need to read as it improves your own output, but I did all my reading when I was younger, it is all there in my head, the good stuff always stays with you and you can draw on it for inspiration. However, I think Phil Rickman is a brilliant author, he also hails from Wigan. He is wonderful at setting the scenes and his characters feel like friends which makes you want to spend time with them.
Do you have any further ambitions?
Simply to have more people read the books and to be able to carry on doing the job I love for as long as possible.
Are there going to be any further DS Lasser novels?
Number fourteen is out in April and I am halfway through fifteen, after that we shall see what happens.
What can you tell readers about your new book deal with Bloodhound books?
The thing that impressed me the most about Bloodhound is the fact that the owner, Betsy, is also a successful author, so she knows what it takes to write a book. People tend to fall into two categories: those who say they could never write a novel and those who think it is easy and they will one day get around to writing one. As well as being a top author, Betsy along with her husband, Fred, are straight talking, determined and bright individuals who have a clear aim to make Bloodhound as successful as possible and that was something that I wanted to be involved in. Betsy also doesn’t believe in deadlines which in this industry is a blessing.
I have signed a three-book deal in the Marnie Hammond series, another DS who does share some of Lasser’s beliefs though she is her own woman with her own set of values. She is fun to write, and again I have aimed to keep the reader turning those pages, so the books will be in the same ‘Lasser’ style, after all that is the type of book my readers enjoy so why change something that isn’t broken. Although the feel of the books is different to Lasser I hope readers get the same level of enjoyment from the new Marnie series.
Finally, who would you invite to a dinner party (alive, dead, real or fictional) and why?
Again writers are an odd bunch, you get those who love to be amongst people who thrive on it and those who prefer a smaller gathering. So, for me a small packed lunch on a hillside somewhere, having a natter with the late Nick Drake would be fantastic. I would provide the potted meat butties and dandelion and burdock he could bring his guitar. Bliss.
to learn more about Robin and his novels, go to
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Thank you for taking the time to share your thoughts, Robin.
Good luck with the new books.
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