I write the Kent Fisher mysteries, set in and around the beautiful South Downs, close to where I live on the south coast in East Sussex.
In June 2016, Penmore Press published the first Kent Mystery, No Accident, fulfilling a long held ambition of mine.
In November 2016, I published Fisher’s Fables, the perfect companion to the Kent Fisher mysteries, offering a humorous insight into the main characters and how they developed.
When I’m not writing, my leisure time often involves the South Downs, where I like to run, take photographs and walk with my West Highland Terrier, Harvey.
But it wasn’t always like this …
I’ve been a storyteller all my life, keen to entertain and make people laugh.
I often wonder if this arose from the feeling that I didn’t fit in. My father was in the RAF, so we moved around and never settled anywhere for long, even after he was discharged. As I had little time to make long lasting friends, I read books, letting my imagination roam new worlds, filled with herioc characters, battling evil.
My active imagination allowed me to embellish the stories I told to make them sound more exciting. While it made me popular, it also aroused resentment, which resulted in another strong-willed pupil proclaiming me a liar. When he rose and walked off, the others followed. I could have followed, but it meant admitting I was a liar, which I was not.
I walked off in the opposite direction … something I’ve done for most of my life.
The Famous Five novels by Enid Blyton encouraged me to be independent, spirited and resourceful. School taught me to take on the education system, which didn’t seem to understand the creative mind. It thwarted and trampled on my ambitions to become and actor, and crushed my interest in becoming an investigative journalist.
Maybe I wrote to vent my frustration at a world that robbed me of my father, who died when I was eight. My school report the following year described the many difficulties I experienced. It also revealed my artisitic nature.
‘He expresses himself well in written work and has excellent powers of observation, which makes his descriptions accurate and vivid.’
Without a father and money, everything seemed like a battle, fighting to be heard, to be accepted by the middle classes, to to take artistic subjects when the school insisted I study sciences. I saw unfairness and injustice all around me, from the destruction of the environment and habitats to the way the poor and helpless were treated by society.
Luckily, I had my typewriter – the present I requested for my thirteenth birthday. (I had to fight to get that too.)
I became an environmental health officer to stop the destruction of the planet and its wildlife, clean up pollution and create a better world.
Well, that’s what I thought the job involved. I got the pollution bit right, but really I should have joined Greenpeace. But once I started the training, I rather liked my career choice. It took me out and about, I solved problems, and I could make a difference to people’s lives. I enforced the law, which appealed to my strong sense of justice and fair play, and worked to helped businesses compete on a level playing field.
Best of all, environmental health fed my imagination. It inspired me to create Kent Fisher, an environmental health officer who solves murders. While it took many years to perfect the character and the first two murder mysteries, my hard work was rewarded in June 2016 with the publication of No Accident.
No ordinary murder.
No ordinary detective.
The second Kent Fisher mystery, No Bodies, will be released in 2017. Rooted firmly in the South Downs, the story sees the rise of a new sidekick in the shape of Columbo, Kent’s West Highland Terrier.
Based on my terrier, Harvey, it’s gives me the chance to tip my hat at my favourite TV detective, who filled many lonely hours in my youth with wonderful story ideas.