Detective novelist returns to the scene of the crime

16 May

It all for started in Swindon’s Town Hall for Alison Bruce – then Lansdown – at a film-writing course.

“I like the idea, but you need to write a book first,” was the tutor’s instructions.

So Alison went away and wrote her third book; well, her first, but it was like Star Wars where the first turned into the third in the seven book series.

I knew Alison in the 1980s when she was a presenter on local radio, presenting a rock and roll show.

I have photographed her with her Ford Zodiac car as a mechanic, as a model, and recently I ventured into her now home town of Cambridge, to interview her about the first book in the Detective Goodhew series of crime novels.

Alison returned to Swindon on Tuesday, May 5, almost where her writing career started, at Swindon’s Central Library, for a Q and A session with her old friend and fellow broadcaster Shirley Ludford as part of Swindon Festival of Literature.

Revealing some of the secrets of the crime writer, Alison ventured into friendship she has developed with her friendly pathologist.

“I put parts of the story on Facebook and I got a like from a retired pathologist and he kept liking my updates. At first I thought he was trolling me but we became friends,” she explained.

“I now put ideas to him, and he goes away and tries them; sometimes even consulting with other senior members of his profession.”

This is part of the Goodhew writing where accuracy in key. The local Police in Cambridge remark how accurate the writing is, even down to secretly admitting many have served under a tyrant Chief Inspector as Alison portrays Goodhew’s boss.

Unusual library books were mentioned; well, unusual places her books are read.

Cambridge’s main ‘nick’ hosts a set of the novels for those detained to get acquainted with the Cambridge Police.

As to advice for new authors, Alison put this forward: “Choose an agent who you can work with and will work with you. I found my agent and she didn’t want to handle my work at first, but I sort of stalked her till she eventually gave in and now we work well together.”

As for a film? Well maybe. “I write as a film script, I find the visual aspect of seeing it as a film makes it easier to write,” She explained.

“With Grantchester being serialised doing Cambridge Blue would be making Cambridge the murder capital of England, but there is hope.”

Words and pictures by Richard Wintle

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