Kent Fisher Mysteries #1
A former gangster is dead. It looks like an accident. Only Kent Fisher suspects murder.
When the police decide Syd Collins’ death is a work accident, they hand over the investigation to environmental health officer, Kent Fisher, a man with more baggage than an airport carousel. He defies a restraining order to enter Tombstone Adventure Park and confronts the owner, Miles Birchill, who has his own reasons for blocking the investigation. Thwarted at every turn, Kent’s forced to bend the rules and is soon suspended from duty. He battles on, unearthing secrets and corruption that could destroy those he loves. With his personal and professional worlds on a collision course, he knows life will never be the same again.
1. Do you always take a book/e-reader wherever you go?
As a full time writer, I spend most of my time at home, which is where I read. On holiday, I always have my Kindle. I enjoy relaxing with a good book, whether I’m indoors or outside. There’s always time for tea, cake and a book.
2. Say someone asks if they can use your name in a book. Would you rather be the ‘good one’ or the ‘bad one’?
I’ve heard many actors say they enjoy playing bad guys because they’re more interesting characters, but I’m with the good guys. Sherlock Holmes was intensely complex and fascinating, which made him more interesting than the villains. The same goes for Morse. Maybe I’m bound to say that as a crime writer, but fairness and justice have always been important to me. As a child, I felt life dealt me some unfair blows. As an environmental health officer for most of my working life, my job was to protect people and improve standards, prosecuting the bad guys when necessary.
I’ve tried to bring all this to my good guy, Kent Fisher, who becomes more complex with each book I write.
3. Where can I find you when you are reading?
I read mainly at breakfast and lunchtime. You’ll usually find me at the breakfast bar or on the sofa with my Kindle. Paperbacks require three hands when you’re eating and reading, which is one of the reasons I prefer eBooks.
4. Where can I find you when you are not writing/reading?
I enjoy running, which gives me time to unwind and to think about writing. I’ve had some great ideas while out running. I’ve solved problems, written opening paragraphs and thought through many a plot idea.
Walking, especially on the wonderful South Downs, which are close to where I live, is another favourite pastime, especially with my wife and our West Highland white terrier, Harvey, for company. It’s a chance to explore potential settings for my books and discover hidden sights.
Pottering around the garden is another great way to relax and think.
I love meeting up with friends in a café for tea and cake. By now you should have realised how tea and cake feature strongly in my life and my reading. Many of these friends read my books, so it’s a perfect opportunity to get feedback and information for future stories.
5. Can you walk past a bookstore without going inside?
No problem. As I’ve already said, I prefer ebooks.
6. What are you most proud of?
It’s a close call between having my first novel published and giving up smoking. One wouldn’t have happened without the other.
Giving up smoking revealed an inner resolve I didn’t know I had – more so when you consider I also had to give up writing. Because writing and smoking were so intrinsically linked, I knew I couldn’t go on writing if I was to quit smoking for good.
Nine months after quitting, I felt the itch to write once more. I started a humorous blog about my experiences as an environment health manager. I saw it as no more than a test of whether I could still write. With expectations low, there was no pressure. As the blog satirised my experiences, I decided to hide behind the name of my creation, Kent Fisher.
Fisher’s Fables ran for seven years, using the characters from my original novel, No Accident, written several years before I quit smoking. From a humble beginning, the blog and characters developed, becoming more of a sitcom.
That’s when I realised I’d found my author voice. I looked at No Accident and wondered how it would sound in my new voice. I rewrote the entire novel, showed an author friend, who recommended me to a publisher. He offered me a contract after reading the first chapter and No Accident was finally published in June 2016.
7. What goes through your mind when you hold your new book in your hands for the first time?
Most authors I know are excited when they receive copies of their books. Don’t get me wrong, I’m proud of my books and it’s good to see them in paperback, but I’m more interested in whether readers will enjoy the stories. That’s who they’re written for, after all.
I’m also writing the next story in the series when a book comes out. Writing consumes my energy and emotions. Creating a new murder mystery, putting my characters through the wringer, never knowing how things will turn out – that’s exciting.
8. What piece of advice would you give to aspiring writers?
I’ve made so many mistakes and learned so much, I sometimes feel I could write a book on the subject. There’s plenty of good advice out there about writing something every day, staying positive in the face of rejection and to never give up. It’s good advice for an aspiring writer, but does it help you improve as a writer?
You get better with practice, sure, but I don’t think you start to achieve what you’re capable of until you find your unique writer’s voice. There’s very little that’s original these days, whatever genre you choose to write. So many books follow a formula or expected standards that are known to sell, which makes it difficult to stand out in a crowded market.
Until you realise that no one’s told the story the way you’re going to tell it. It may follow the accepted standards and formulas, but it will be uniquely yours.
And just as you need to find your author voice, you should always listen to your inner voice. This is the voice that tells you when something isn’t working or isn’t the best you can do. It also chides you
when you don’t listen and think you know best. Call it instinct, if you prefer, but ignore it at your peril. It’s rarely wrong.
9. Who would you like/have liked to interview?
Agatha Christie is one of the main inspirations for my murder mysteries. In many ways, she taught me how to write the classic whodunit, thanks mainly to Miss Marple. I would have loved to find out more about her and where she got her ideas from. She was so prolific she must have had so many plots and ideas buzzing around her head. And of course, there are those missing years.
My other main inspiration is Sue Grafton, who wrote the Alphabet murder series and created the wonderful private eye, Kinsey Millhone. When my first novel No Accident was published, I contacted her through Facebook Messenger to thank her for her great books, which inspired me to create my own private detective. I never expected a reply, but she wished me well with the book. It was the start of a conversation that lasted many months. I learned so much about Sue, her fears and hopes, the challenges of writing a series and the dreaded blank page. Those conversations assumed an even greater significance when she passed away last year.
10 .When and where do you prefer to write?
I write on weekdays (occasionally sneaking in a weekend here and there). I start writing around 8.30am and finish around 1.00pm for lunch. Sometimes I write for longer or return after lunch.
It means I start thinking about what I’ll write straight after breakfast. Some of my best ideas have come while I’m shaving. I’ve lost count of the times I’ve rushed from the bathroom, shaver in hand, to make a note.
I have a study where I write. As it’s upstairs, I have to go downstairs for a cup of tea or a glass of water. These refreshment breaks are my thinking time. If I’m struggling with a scene, the break gives me a chance to work on it in my head. The breaks also take me away from the computer, which is essential for avoiding aches, pains and repetitive strain injury.
Thank you, Robert Crouch
About the author
I write the kind of books I love to read.
Books ranging from the classic whodunit by authors like Agatha Christie, the feisty private eye novels of Sue Grafton, thrillers by Dick Francis, and the modern crime fiction of Peter James.
I also wanted Kent Fisher to be an ordinary person like me, drawn into solving a murder. He’s the underdog battling against superior forces and minds, seeking justice and fair play in a cruel world.
These are the values and motivations that drive us both. But Kent Fisher leads a much more colourful and exciting life.
After a long career as an environmental health officer, I now write full time from my home in East Sussex. You can often find me walking on the South Downs with my West Highland white terrier, Harvey, researching the settings. The peace and beauty of these rolling hills and sheer white cliffs always inspire me, filling me with ideas for future Kent Fisher mysteries.
Website – https://robertcrouch.co.uk
Twitter – @robertcrouchuk
Instagram – robertcrouch_author
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