It’s always lovely to meet an author and hear about their passion for writing and where they get their story ideas from. At a recent event, I had the pleasure of meeting author, David Videcette. He very graciously allowed me to corner him and extract all his writerly wisdom. Not one to miss an opportunity, I asked if David would like to pop over to my blog and tell everyone about his latest book and what the future holds. Over to David:
The Fun Stuff:
Which part of the world do you come from?
I grew up in South London. (Officially pronounced ‘Sarf Lahndahn’).
My dad was a police officer and we lived in police accommodation, right in the middle of a huge council estate. All the other kids knew us as “coppers’ kids”, which made my early years very tough and eventful!
What did you want to be when you grew up?
An astronaut, a fighter pilot or a secret agent were all on my list. The careers officer at my school told me to “be realistic” when I shared this with him, and practically laughed me out of his office.
Twenty-two years later, having worked my way through borough policing, CID and organised crime – I was finally successful in being selected for the Anti-Terrorist Branch – a highly trained, specialist operations unit. Following the horrific events of the London 7/7 bombings, I spent many years hunting down suspects, chasing terrorists across continents and had unprecedented access to the world of spies, secrets and foreign intelligence agencies. Not a bad result for a “coppers’ kid” living on a council estate.
List three words to describe yourself.
Unpredictable, tenacious, complex.
Who would play you in a film about your life?
My debut thriller, The Theseus Paradox, is based on my experiences investigating the 7/7 London bombings and the film adaptation is currently a much discussed point. So far, the actors who’ve been suggested to play the lead of Detective Inspector Jake Flannagan, include: Tom Hardy, Idris Elba, Michael Fassbender, Gabriel Macht, David Tennant, James McAvoy, Robert Carlyle, Scott Maslen, Ray Winstone, Kit Harrington, Sean Pertwee…the list goes on.
As an author, I think that it might be nice for an up-and-coming actor to take the role and give us their interpretation of Jake Flannagan. We get to see a new face on our screens and it gives someone new a chance to totally own the character. There are several more books in the pipeline for the film franchise, too!
What’s your favourite snack food when writing?
I don’t tend to snack when I’m writing. I listen to music and drink gallons of tea, though…
If you had a super power, what would it be?
I know I should say something compassionate here, about having a superpower that would bring about world peace or something, but…I love finding out secrets. So my superpower would be the ability to make myself invisible. I could listen to conversations without people knowing and get into places to have a good rummage around. (It would save a lot of time on the official paperwork, the warrants and bug planting, too!)
The Sensible Side:
Tell us a little about yourself. (How did you get started writing? What do you do when you’re not writing?)
I was in the police for twenty years, much of which was spent investigating organised crime and terrorism. I have always written a lot, although in my police days this was intelligence reports or evidential files in complex cases. I also did a lot of work with the media – including The Bill, Crimewatch and a BBC documentary – and I had previously written pieces for the media. Writing crime fiction however, was still a jump from that, and I wasn’t sure that I could do it. I practiced by writing a blog for a few years to hone my skills, understand my target audience better and develop a style that people liked.
When I’m not writing, I work as a security consultant to high-net-worth individuals in central London. I also do a lot of stuff with the BBC, the papers and other media outlets as a commentator on terrorism, crime and policing.
I can also be found doing ‘dad stuff’ with my girls which usually involves shopping or taxi driving – or both.
To relax, I enjoy catching the latest film at the cinema or visiting one of London’s many wonderful art galleries or museums.
Where did the inspiration for The Theseus Paradox come from?
The Theseus Paradox is a thriller set against the backdrop of the 7/7 bombings – a case on which I worked for five years.
One of the reasons I wrote the book was to process everything I had in my head about that investigation. I never, ever stopped thinking about it.
I didn’t want to take this story to the grave with me. What happened was an important part of our social history and we’ve only discussed one side of it – until now.
How much of what I have written is true and how much is fiction? That’s for you as the reader to decide.
Can you tell us a little bit about life in the anti-terrorist branch and how it has helped shape your writing?
I joined the Anti-Terrorist Branch at the end of 2004. There hadn’t been a terror attack on mainland Britain since 2001. Much of what I did in the early parts of 2005 was surveillance and intelligence gathering. That all changed within a few months, when four suicide bombers murdered fifty-two people in central London – then two weeks later another group of suicide bombers tried to do the same thing. My life changed considerably – my sole focus became finding out who was behind what had gone on.
My books are written so that the reader sees each case through the eyes of a detective. You are in Jake’s head throughout. That way you get to see each case exactly how a real detective sees it and you can understand what happens behind the scenes in a major investigation. Not the made-up, fantasy Hollywood version, but the real, first-hand, British police account.
Did you have any concerns about writing this book?
The attacks and the aftermath are still a very sensitive subject for me, and many others. I had to be sure that I was doing the right thing by sharing my thoughts in this first book and saying some of the things that I have.
Many police colleagues have read and enjoyed it and I’ve also been working very closely with two charities who deal with those affected by the events of that day.
The Theseus Paradox is raising money to support the work of The Police Dependants’ Trust and I also volunteer some of my time to the 7/7 Tavistock Square Memorial Trust which is currently campaigning with families, residents and emergency service personnel to get a permanent memorial in Tavistock Square, the scene of the No. 30 bus bombing.
Because the events are close to my heart and I am working with charities that are supporting families and police affected, I am careful about how much I say and how much I share with readers. Many of the things I experienced on that day, as I entered Tavistock Square, will never be discussed openly.
Can you give us a brief excerpt?
Jake now knew that Salma, Wasim’s wife, had experienced serious complications with her pregnancy, which had led to the loss of their unborn child. He had watched Wasim type a flurry of text messages shortly after Salma had grabbed him in the street. Major plans had clearly been altered yesterday. Jake could put in a RIPA request to see the content of those text messages, but it might take some weeks to get the stuff back from the mobile-phone company, depending on who the service provider was. Some were quicker than others. He could also ask the Security Service, but getting them to share it might be hard work.
Jake had picked the easy route this morning; the good old-fashioned way: get in, have a look around… and get out.
He was inside. He moved to the front of the house and stood in the small kitchen, surveying the jaundiced Formica units. What had Wasim been doing in here before he left? Jake had a quick scout around; everything looked normal – neat and tidy, nothing out of place.
As he bent down to begin scrabbling around in the kitchen cupboards, he saw it: two brown marks on the white linoleum floor in front of the washing machine.
All washing machines leaked water after a certain amount of time. It would run down and collect on the legs and feet, turning them rusty. When you pulled a unit out from the wall, the feet would inevitably leave marks on the floor, as per Dr Edmond Locard’s exchange principle: ‘Every contact leaves a trace’.
Jake touched the marks on the lino. They were wet. The machine had definitely been moved that morning. Before 0300 hours? Why?
He wrestled the machine away from the wall. A pipe was loose at the back. Taking out a kit from his pocket, he wiped the inside of the pipe with a cotton bud, then placed the cotton bud inside the vial.
He shook it. The entire vial turned brown instantly.
It was positive for HMTD. Hexamethylene triperoxide diamine – a highly explosive organic compound that lent itself well to acting as an initiator.
Wasim had a bomb.
What can we expect from you in the future?
I’m in the process of writing both the second and third books in the same Detective Inspector Jake Flannagan series. The Theseus Paradox is the first. The next two books also deal with real-life police investigations that were undertaken during my time in the police – both had a massive media impact and both of which people will remember!
How can we contact you or find out more about your books?
You can connect with me via: