David Videcette is a former Scotland Yard investigator with over 20 years’ experience, including counter-terror operations and organised crime.
Now a crime writer, his first book, The Theseus Paradox, wowed readers with its fast pacing and left many of us wondering “How much of that is the truth?”.
Of course, David can’t tell us that, but he can tell us about his new thriller, The Detriment, out this week…
David, welcome to the blog. What attracted you to writing in the crime/thriller genre after working in the Metropolitan Police for so many years?
Working as a detective in specialist operations, you spend a lot of time briefing people, explaining what you’ve been doing, how a crime happened, what the evidence or intelligence is, who the suspect is and their background and history.
Effectively you’re telling people stories - crime stories within a set format - both in writing and in person. It was something that I always enjoyed doing.
Over the years, I’ve also been lucky to work a great deal with the media, which has given me an insight into how crime has crossed over into the realm of entertainment.
I was followed for a year by a film crew on a documentary called ‘Burgled’ when the BBC was given unprecedented access to the best-performing burglary squad in the Met.
I also worked with the team at ‘Crimewatch’, reconstructing robberies to encourage the public to provide the police with new leads - and I consulted on the ITV police drama, ‘The Bill’, helping to make sure everything was accurate for their organised crime storylines.
I’ve also blogged for many years and written for industry magazines - so in many ways, writing a novel was a natural step on for me.
Do you outline/plot, or do you prefer to start at the beginning and see where the story takes you? Why do you prefer this method of writing?
As a detective with the Anti-Terrorist Branch, I worked on the London 7/7 bombings investigation for many years. I had a story that needed to be told.
It was a case which I could never let go of and one which would never let go of me. We accepted it was terrorism, but what if we were wrong?
I originally set out to write an autobiographical tale of my personal experiences, but the Official Secrets Act forbade me from writing non-fiction.
Now I write crime thrillers and base my stories around real events, so many of the scenes in a story are already pre-set for me, I just have to focus the reader’s attention on new evidence or particular insights at a crime scene, for example.
I tend not to write a story in order, so I end up with a lot of material which needs shaping into something readable!
I’ve been told that I write my books in the same way I solve crimes. All the deduction takes place internally, so to an outsider it looks clean and straightforward - but inside my head I’m beavering away on it 24/7, even when I don’t want to be thinking about it. It’s the curse of the perennial detective!
What does your writing space look like? Do you have any pre-writing rituals to get you “in the zone”?
As well as my writing, I work in the security sector, looking after high-net-worth individuals - and I do a lot of work with the media, writing and commentating on crime and terrorism.
This means that a ‘writing space’ might just be some snatched time in the back of a vehicle.
I write whenever I can, often on anything that I can – a phone, an iPad, a PC or even a notebook. I do like to listen to music when I’m converting all my material into something readable though, so I’m a big fan of music services such as Spotify.
How do you structure a typical day to ensure you avoid distractions and hit your word count targets?
This sounds bad, and I’m almost embarrassed – but I don’t currently keep to any targets.
It comes when I’m ready to do it (or when my editor shouts at me!).
As long as I’m happy with all the investigations and research, I write very quickly once I’m ready.
I can easily get a scene of a thousand to fifteen hundred words down in no time at all.
We all occasionally hit a brick wall with our creative endeavours – what do you do to overcome any stumbling blocks?
We have five senses that we can use to relate to the world around us: smell, taste, touch, sight, and sound.
Most of us have our favourite ones we rely on to interact with our environment.
For me it’s sight and touch. So, if I’ve hit a road block or it’s not flowing well, I find some things that will stimulate those senses.
I’ll watch a film, go to a gallery, or visit somewhere that’s related to the place I’m writing about, to get into the groove again. Your brain is like a sponge. Soak some more stuff up and then wring it out again!
What else have you got planned for 2017?
My second detective thriller, The Detriment, based around the burning Jeep attack on Glasgow airport, will be released at the end of June, almost ten years to the day the shocking events took place.
I’m also working on two other writing projects – my third book in the Jake Flannagan series, which sees Jake working abroad. And I’m researching another project based on a very famous case, which may go down the fiction route and turn into a detective thriller - or possibly stay as fact and become a TV documentary. Watch this space!
Finally, how can we find out more about you and your books?
You can find out more about me or take a look at my books on Amazon.
And if you’d like the chance to win a signed paperback copy of my latest release, you can enter your email address, and you’ll go into the hat each time I have a new release out.