I am delighted to welcome Malcolm Hollingdrake author of the DCI Bennett series to take part in my Q&A interview.
Good morning, welcome to Chelle’s Book Reviews
Hello. Thank you very much for allowing me to share my answers with you.
Can you tell us a little about yourself and background?
I was born in Bradford in a library of all places so I shouldn’t really be surprised that I’ve ended up in the autumn of my life as someone trying to write. An interesting factor is that I attended the same primary school, Wellington Road, Undercliffe as Peter Firth, the popular actor. On to Carlton Grammar and then I found myself at Ripon Teacher Training College.
I spent thirty-two years teaching, a year in Cairo and a year in Cyprus. It was only on retirement did I take up writing with any degree of real commitment. Like most writers I grew tired of the myriad rejection slips and so self-published, firstly, a terrorist plot, that linked Bradford and North Cyprus and then the DCI Cyril Bennett series. Sales were slow and I’d spent a great deal of time popping flyers through letterboxes to get the books noticed. In 2016, I was desperate; I was on the point of giving up. I wrote to Angie Marsons, whom I knew through Facebook, explaining my frustrations. She encouraged me to send my third book to a few more publishers. At the same time, Liz Mistry’s ‘Unquiet Souls’ was published and as it was set in Bradford, I bought it to see if I recognised places. It was then that I spotted that her book was published by Bloodhound Books. I checked their web page and noticed that they were open for submissions and sent in book three of the Bennett books. From that serendipity, I have a seven book publishing contract. I am now writing book six and the first five are in the top 100 within Police Procedurals on Amazon UK and Amazon Australia as I write this.
When did you know that you wanted to become a writer? How did you go about it?
I always liked writing, using my imagination. I have always painted and allowed my feelings to be conveyed through this medium. When I was teaching I would write stories for the children either for the end of day or for messages for assemblies. I think the writing of the first one was a test. I heard someone say that everyone has a novel in them and so I checked to see if it were true. That one has taken me to seven!
Can you tell us what genre your books are and the audience you write for?
Apart from ‘Engulfed’ and ‘Shadows from the Past’, a collection of short stories, I write crime novels that are set in the beautiful spa town of Harrogate in North Yorkshire. I write for those who love crime, those who enjoy Police Procedurals. I have been told that I’m a little on the sadistic side but I believe there is nothing within the pages of my books that breaks unacceptable boundaries.
I write for people who enjoy the twists and turns, those who look for clues and hope to solve the case before DCI Bennett does.
I also believe that I have a contract with my reader. They pay hard-earned money for the read and it is important to me that they get value for money. I don’t mean the page number but the story itself, a tale that should keep you guessing and have a conclusion. I am not a lover of books that are suddenly left in the air.
What is your writing process and how long does it take?
As I don’t rely on writing to live, I write when the mood takes me although I do suffer withdrawal symptoms if I don’t write daily. A book will normally take seven months but I have written one in seven weeks. I shall never do that again.
Are your characters based on anyone you know or are they just fictional?
Yes, my characters are fictional but I think they are a mix of real people whom I have met over many years. I think there might be a little of me in one or two also. I do struggle creating character names and I have used real names of people who have entered competitions to be included in a book. That’s great fun for me and for them, I hope. I always ask if they would like to be good or bad. Strangely most women who want to be included want to be bad!
Have you written about a personal experience in your novels?
Being brought up around the Harrogate/Ripon area allows me to use my knowledge of the area but I’ve never killed anyone; I just make it all up! I think conveying your own hobby through your character is justified. It helps make them real. I love going to auctions to both buy and sell and this passion I have given to DCI Bennett.
What research do you do?
A lot. I research places, how long a walk takes, what you can see from certain vantage points during all of the seasons, smells, sounds. I try to check police procedurals although I do make things up using modern trends. In my latest book I already have Forensics using drones to check crime scenes! I do feel accuracy, particularly of the place your novels are set, is important.
Who would you like to co-write with and why?
I think for the moment, no. I don’t have the experience yet.
What’s your favorite book?
‘Sagittarius Rising’ Cecil Lewis
What’s your favorite food?
My wife’s Yorkshire puddings and onion gravy with a little apple sauce. I also love Risotto. (An Appleton’s pork pie – a Ripon butcher)
What’s your favorite film?
There are many and this answer could change weekly. However, ‘Saving Private Ryan’ – It gave me some idea of what my father experienced when he was a young man. ‘Apollo 13’ was a bit like writing and getting a book deal…an awful lot of luck, determination, teamwork and will was needed for a successful outcome.
What’s your favorite song?
‘If I should I fall behind’ Bruce Springsteen.
How can readers find out more information about yourself and your books?
Through Twitter and Facebook
Malcolm Hollingdrake @MHollingdrake
And my Amazon author page