God works in mysterious ways, as Bob and I know only too well… Writing a book was never on our ‘bucket list’ – never mind writing a series of crime books, together!
As a husband and wife team we notched up 47 years working for West Yorkshire Police, the fourth largest police force in the country. Bob retired in 2003 at the rank of Detective Superintendent and the same day I too walked away from my desk at the station. The day after, we moved to the Isle of Wight, a place we had holidayed for over ten years. The plan was a life of peace and tranquility; away from all things police related, or so we thought.
In the last three years of his thirty year career Bob took charge of twenty-six murder enquiries, twenty-three major incidents and over fifty suspicious deaths, as well as numerous sexual assaults; to cap it all he was an on-call negotiator for suicide intervention, hostage negotiation, terrorism and firearms incidents. Why? Well, that’s one of the questions that readers of the DI Dylan series get answered when we unmask the real detective – in our fictional stories. How did he know how many enquiries he led in the latter part of his career? Because the government introduced the need for statistics.
I, on the other hand worked in the admin department for seventeen years – saw man’s inhumanity to man from the safety of my office but also felt the frustrations as the partner of the man in charge of the latest high profile investigation that had just broken. For my sins I was often left high and dry in all sorts of places including family gatherings, supermarkets, restaurants, cinema’s and even on holiday when the unforgiving bleeper summoned him. Did I ever want to take the batteries out? Too right I did. Why would anyone put up with being married to someone who lived for the job? Need you ask. Not just for the obvious reason of it being what Bob did for a job but because I loved him and I also knew that if, god forbid, I was ever in the position of the victim of serious crime, or the victims families, there was no other I would want in my corner but Bob Bridgestock; his twenty-six commendations from high court judges and chief constables for a job well done confirm I’m not the only one who thinks that.
Once we had put pen to paper, brought about oddly enough by becoming volunteers for the local hospice and a talk we’d been asked to give and a short writing course at the local college, in 2007 our first novel was completed. We decided to self-publish Deadly Focus, which has since become the first in the DI Jack Dylan series. It was either publish ourselves we thought, after a few rejection letters from publishers, or it might remain on the top of the wardrobe forever. Here is where fate leant its first hand. After giving a few copies to family and friends we gave book to three hospices to sell and hoped they might raise a few pounds with them. Low and behold these books sold out in no time at all and people were asking for the next.
Bob and I had enjoyed the experience of writing a book together – Bob writes the crime story from start to finish and then I put the ‘flesh on the bones’ with the back story of the victim and what is now DI Dylan and Jen’s family saga. ‘Consequences’ was born. Due to the fact the 1500 copies of Deadly Focus had sold out, we had gained quite a bit of media publicity and had written a second book. We found a London agent who didn’t take us on at that time, but did give us advice. Relatively quickly after that we found a publisher who loved the books as much as we enjoyed writing them. Darren E Laws is the CEO of Caffeine Nights Publishing. He suggested there may be a good argument for re-publishing Deadly Focus, which he did. The rest as they say is history, with Deadly Focus now being optioned for TV by The Gate Films March 2015 and the 6th book in the Dylan series about to be published in June 2015.
Fate took a second hand during the launching of White Lilies (our 3rd book in the Dylan series). We were interviewed by Victoria Mason for the Halifax Evening Courier. At the interview at the Courier Offices in Halifax she told us she had just interviewed scriptwriter Sally Wainwright. As it happened I attended Sowerby Bridge Grammar School as did Sally Wainwright, but Sally is a few years younger than me so our paths had never crossed. Within a few days Sally was on the phone asking if we’d go and meet her and the team at Red Productions. Our part in the BAFTA winning BBC series ‘Happy Valley’ was established. From this working relationship we were also asked to work on ITV’s award winning Scott & Bailey series 4 and became consultants to Red Productions for other work. Because of the contracts for this we needed a literary agent and for the past year, until her agency closed on the 31st March 2015 Brie Burkeman picked up whence we had left after giving us advice with Consequences.
Our journey so far has been exciting and taken us into the world of TV and film but negotiations, rights, contracts, need far more expertise and knowledge than we care to take time to get our head around or indeed would want to. So, with a TV option by The Gate Films secured in March 2015 we knew we couldn’t manage without another literary agent, but to find the perfect agent for us the question was what did we really want/need from a literary agent?
We know what a Literary Agent job description says. He/she sits between an author and a publisher. They handle the business side of things. They know the market. But to us a literary agent has to be so much more, we need someone who is friendly, honest and highly experienced – we, after all are only eight years into this writing game. We need someone who will look after us, nurture us, help us move forward. We want someone who loves our work as much as we love writing about Dylan, and his partner Jen who live in our hearts and our heads and in the eyes of our readership.
David Headley is a first class agent. We know from those who work with him and for him that he is extremely hard-working. They tell us no one knows the book trade better than David and they also say he is a lovely guy… Now, that’s what we want from an agent!
We are ‘proud as punch’ (he’s also a Yorkshireman by birth), to be signed by David at D H H Literary Agency Ltd. For those of our readers who don’t know much about David, you soon will. Not only is he a literary agent but he is also the managing director of Goldsboro Books in London. They specialise in signed books and first editions and when the likes of Lee Child, Bernard Cornwell and William Boyd talk about Goldsboro Books as being their favourite London book store you know that it’s something very special…
Sometimes, religious or not, we feel the need to look up to the sky and thank God. I know Bob did in his line of work in the police force. When great police work, hard graft and determination wasn’t catching the perpetrator of the crime, but a lucky find/encounter did. Today Bob and I looked up to the sky and thanked him for finding us a great agent and we are looking forwarded to a long and happy career with David.
You can purchase Bob & Carol’s DI Dylan series here
Follow Bob and Carol on twitter: @RCBridgestock