Today I’ve got a very talented lady with me going by the name of Bernie Steadman. Let me tell you a little about Bernie. She’s got two books out at the moment, one called Death and Deception and the second Death and the Good Son. Both of these are connected by a great character called D.I. Dan Hellier.
Lucky for me I’ve got Bernie here with me now to tell us a little bit about these two books and what she has in store for us in the future.
So over to you Bernie, fire away and tell us all about them.
Thanks very much for inviting me on to your blog today, Pete. My two published books are part of a trilogy featuring DI Dan Hellier and his team down in the lovely old city of Exeter. Hellier arrives in Exeter as part of a transfer deal. He blotted his copybook in London when he soundly beat up his ex-girlfriend’s new man, and he arrives in Devon ready to prove himself. Unfortunately he struggles to make sense of a case which involves the murder of a sixteen year-old girl, a gang of paedophiles and a murder too close to home. He soon learns to listen to his sergeant, the redoubtable Sally Ellis, and has learnt a great deal about being a good leader by the end of the book. (No spoilers from me!)
Death and the Good Son happens a few months later, when Hellier is still recovering from the first case. This book starts on Dartmoor with the discovery of two headless, handless corpses, and links to the secrets families hide, even from themselves.
The final book in the series, Death and the Fire Goddess, sees Dan Hellier promoted to DCI but totally unable to let his team get on with investigating a series of horrible burnings on their own. The police start to think the murders are part of the cult of the Fire Goddess, but things are never as simple as they seem… This one will be out on the new year.
That's great news, and I'm certainly looking forward to reading that when it comes out. Okay, now onto the next question. For everyone that hasn’t read any of your books. What would they gain from reading them?
I write accessible crime police procedurals, with a great team of officers and intriguing storylines. They are fast-moving stories with plenty of twists to keep readers guessing. Character carries the plot as far as I’m concerned, and my aim is to get you turning the pages!
Are there any themes or messages in your books?
I’m fascinated by motivations, and what would drive someone to commit a terrible crime and then cover it up. I write about truth, lies and all the shades of grey, but also about love and loyalty, because nobody wants unremitting gloom, do they?
How would you describe your own writing style?
I tend to go for the humour in a situation, which has gained me a few critical reviews, but it’s how I see things – even in the darkest moments, there’s a funny side. I have been told that realistic dialogue is a strength, although I’m working on persuading people that I do have the soul of a poet so they don’t keep cutting out my purple prose…
Have any of your personal experiences been written into any of your novels?
Yes, I was a teacher for many years, and the first book features a girl found dead on a school playing field, and has a major role for the young English teacher. These days I am retired from teaching, and am a trustee of an animal sanctuary, so I had to include one in book 2. Absolutely no animals were hurt in the making of the book. Honest. Book 3? No, not a single bit of it is part of my life!
Would you ever consider writing in another genre apart from crime?
Yes. I have a completed YA thriller with a fantasy element that needs an agent, and I am planning a stand-alone thriller set on the beautiful island of Crete, ready to start as soon as I have finished with Dan Hellier.
What draws you into writing crime in the first place?
I love reading it. I get lost in strong, twisty tales. I didn’t actually think ‘I’m going to write a crime novel’, it just came out that way! And once I’d got my teeth into the characters, it seemed rude to dump them after just one book.
When you first started writing any of your novels; did you plan them first or did you just get straight into the writing.
I plan to a certain extent, but once I get writing the plan becomes a distant memory. Books are organic and the characters do tend to lead one astray.
If you did have some sort of plot worked out first did you use something like Scrivener or have you sticky notes plastered all over your desk?
I work in Scrivener, but have a large notebook to scribble in. I tend to spend time writing out my plot problems and asking myself questions, then I write until I have the answer.
Personally, what do reviews mean to you as an author?
When I first started writing, reviews were validation. People read and enjoyed my books, therefore I am a writer. Now, I just love the fact that people take the time to write about a book they have enjoyed. It gives me a connection with them, which is great.
What would you say was the most satisfying or perhaps proudest moment of your writing career?
It has to be the moment when I held a completed book, one that I had written, in my hand for the first time. Unbeatable! The sheer pain of getting it from start to finish was all worth it when it sat on my table, all new and shiny.
If you were to change anything, what would you change?
I’d have started writing in my twenties. I thought I didn’t have time when I worked full-time. Now I understand that we make our own time, time stretches to accommodate what we really want to do. So, no excuses, if you think you have a book or a short story in you, turn off the TV and go and write it down. Life is short.
Would you like any of your books to be made into films? If the answer is a yes and there had to be many changes that altered the story or the feel of the novel, would you still be happy to do this?
I’d love it! What we really need is a series set in Exeter – it’s very photogenic down this part of the world. Could I let go of the storylines? Yup. Once a book is out there, I can have no control over any of it, anyway, and it would be a film!
Final question; Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?
I want to thank you. Like you, I was a reader from an early age. I got lost in so many wonderful stories, entered so many amazing worlds, that if I can entertain you for a few hours, and you can enjoy it, then it’s worthwhile. So thank you for your reviews, and for giving an unknown author a chance!
Berni, it's been an absolute pleasure having you here. I can't wait for your new book to come out, and when it does, I really hope you can come back and talk about it then. Up until then take the very best of care.