Today is the turn of Life Of A Nerdish Mum on the Stop Press Murder by Peter Bartram blog tour and I'm excited to be bringing both a non spoiler review of the book and an interview with the author!
First the review -
Stop Press Murder is set in the 1960s and throughout the book there are so many touches that really make you feel like you are in that era, the language, the money, the clothes, it's all done so well and it really immerses you in the story. Another well done part of the writing is the use of journalism lingo throughout which gave an authentic feel to Colin as a journalist but wasn't used to the point where a non journalist wouldn't be able to follow a conversation.
The story is fast paced and is laced with humour, Colin Crampton is a cheeky chappy with a wicked sense of humour. I found myself laughing along at many places throughout the story. Colin overall is a really great character and I love his relationships with every other character. He knows how to get himself into a scrape and he knows how to get himself out too.
The murder mystery has more twists and turns than a roller coaster and is extremely well crafted to keep you guessing right until the end. It was full of memorable characters and interesting bits of information.
Overall I thoroughly enjoyed Stop Press Murder, I didn't want to put it down as I needed to know what would happen next, one night I stayed up till nearly 2am thinking I'll just read one more chapter. This is a huge recommendation from me.
I gave this book 5 stars on Goodreads.
And now onto the extremely exciting interview with Peter Bartram -
You are a journalist and have written many non-fiction books before starting the Crampton of the Chronicle crime series. Did you always know that you wanted to write crime fiction eventually or was it a more organic process?
I've always wanted to write a crime series but, until recently, never had the time. Even in my early days as a freelance journalist, I started to write a crime mystery. It was about a serial killer who was knocking off his victims in ways that imitated the deaths of heroines in Puccini's operas. I was going to call it The Puccini Murders. But then paying commissions for articles and books came along and The Puccini Murders never got past the first couple of chapters. But a couple of years ago, I decided I simply had to make time to write crime fiction - so I stopped writing non-fiction books and cut back on my journalism. The Crampton of the Chronicle series - with four books so far - is the result.
As you are a journalist, is Colin based on yourself or does he have any of your personality traits?
I think Colin is an amalgam of character traits from a number of journalists I've known over the years. Like a lot of real-life journalists - including myself - Colin has a passion for justice, in its broadest sense. At the same time, he'll stoop to any low trick to get his story. So he's a cross between an angel and a devil! Like lots of journalists I've known he has a great sense of humour - and that comes out in the way he approaches his life.
Where do you draw inspiration from for your books?
Quite a lot of inspiration comes from my career as a journalist. I started life as a reporter in the 1960s, so I know first-hand what newspaper newsrooms were like in those far-off days. I've used incidents from my own career in my books. Indeed, the lead story (The Mystery of the African Charity) in Murder from the Newsdesk (my book of short stories available free on kindle) is based on an unsolved case I handled as a young reporter.
As the books you wrote before the Crampton of the Chronicle series were non-fiction, does it take a completely different mind-set to now write fiction or do you go about it in a similar way?
Yes it does require a different approach. Curiously, I've found that writing fiction requires much more planning than writing non-fiction. When I say planning, I don't mean research. Research for some of my non-fiction books, especially the biographies, has often taken months. But planning is different - it's about how the book is going to be structured. For a non-fiction book, I've usually done that in chapters. Sometimes, I've planned a non-fiction book in a couple of hours. But planning the Crampton series of intricate crime plots takes a lot more time. I plan each book in scenes. In the book I'm currently writing there are 73 scenes. In each scene, I define what's going to happen but I don't always work out how it will happen - I often leave that until I write the scene. So planning the fiction is the big writing difference.
Stop Press Murder is the second Crampton mystery - do you have more mysteries planned for the future?
Yes. Stop Press Murder is the second full-length novel. There is also a novella - Murder in Capital Letters - which anyone can download for free from my website at www.colincrampton.com - and the short stories I mentioned earlier. I'm currently writing the third full-length novel - Front Page Murder - due out in 2017. And if I get time, there will be more novellas!
The Crampton of the Chronicle series is set in the 1960s, is there a reason why you chose that particular decade?
It's the decade when I started my career in journalism. And what a thrilling decade it was. No wonder it's known as the Swinging Sixties. It was a time of massive change - in fashions, in music, in attitudes, in social reform. It was also the decade when evening newspapers reached the peak of their circulations and influence - before television and, later, social media began to nimble away at both. As Colin works for an evening newspaper, I thought it would be good for him to do so when those papers were at their height. Also news-gathering in those days - without computers, the internet or mobile phones - was a more challenging task, which makes for some interesting plot opportunities.
Do you have a set routine for writing or a favourite place to sit and write?
Yes. From Monday to Friday, I work from 9.00am to midday. Then I take two hours for a light lunch and a long brisk walk. We live 100 yards from the beach, so I'll sometimes walk along by the sea. I'm back in my office by 2.00pm and generally work through to around 6.00pm. I'll usually do some work over the weekend, even if it's just reading background material. I work from an office in my home. If the weather is good in the summer, I may work in the summer house in our garden.
What is your favourite part about being an author?
I think it's probably having what I think is a really good idea which I can then use in a book or an article. As a freelance writer, you're really selling ideas - writing words is just the delivery medium. But I also enjoy writing a passage I'm especially pleased with. (Although Samuel Johnson warned about excessive hubris in this respect.) And I don't deny it's great to get feedback from readers who've enjoyed the books.
When you're not writing what would we find you doing?
I do, in fact, spend a considerable amount of time writing - either books, or newspaper and magazine articles. But when not doing that, my wife Jackie and I enjoy travelling both in this country and abroad. You'll usually find both of us with a good book to read.
Do you have a favourite author or authors?
My interest in crime fiction was first stimulated when I was 14 and found a copy of The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes in a second-hand bookshop. In the 1970s, I read lots of crime novels and thrillers - especially Victor Canning, Desmond Bagley and Alistair MacLean. Current authors I greatly admire include Peter Lovesey and Simon Brett. (I feel very honoured that they've both provided generous cover quotes for Crampton books.) And I'm a big fan of Alan Bradley's Flavia de Luce crime mysteries and Janet Evanovich's Stephanie Plum books.
Thank you so much to Peter for the opportunity to read his wonderful book and for taking the time to answer all my questions!
There is a free Crampton taster novella - Murder in Capital Letters - available to download at www.colincrampton.com/free-novella
Don't forget to check out the rest of the blog tour!
Stop Press Murder is the second full length novel featuring Colin Crampton but this can definitely be read as a stand alone or as your first step into the world of Colin Crampton.