I've made mistakes in the past. We all have.
Perhaps the one I'm most ashamed of, and the one I'm most afraid of happening again (and the consequences of it happening again), is when it comes to book research.
(As for life's mistakes, we won't go there.)
The Jake Tanner series is about police officers, solving crimes, evidence, fighting the bad guys, corruption, counter-terrorism. A completely different universe to one I'm used to.
It's a whole new world, as I'm sure it is for most writers in the genre - not all of us can be like Andy McNab and Chris Ryan.
And there are things that readers of the genre have come to expect. Procedure.
Correction: accurate procedure.
Something that a real police officer would do.
I neglected this in my first few stories. And I'm ashamed to admit it.
I didn't understand the severity of my actions. I didn't realise it would have as much of an impact as it has. I was naive, but now I've been made aware of my faux pas.
When I first started the Jake Tanner series, I had little to no knowledge about the procedure behind a murder investigation, the dos and don'ts. And I was even more clueless about how counter-terrorism works (although, as I'll explain later, this is more acceptable).
I wrote An Unlikely Betrayal using my own intuition and experience from things I'd seen on television... A word to the wise: not the wisest decision to make.
The reviews were a perfect portrayal of this idiocy: the book received negative reviews because it was ill-informed and frankly, unbelievable.
Now, did I learn from these mistakes when I wrote Standstill?
Yes. And no.
Here's my justification:
The world of counter-terrorism is a misty one. For obvious reasons. There's hardly any literature on the procedures behind it, and so I gave myself some creative license in Standstill.
For Floor 68, the second instalment in the Jake Tanner terror thriller series, I moved the characters away from the office, away from HQ and into a different setting, so that I could move away from the procedural side of things. And, I think, it's worked. There are still some things that I had to iron out, and to do this, I enlisted the help of former police officers to use their expertise and experience to best inform the stories as I could.
However, in Standstill, there were still some blatant errors, which, again, have been highlighted.
I've taken them all on board, and decided to go back to the basics.
Over the past few weeks, I've been diving myself into the depths of police literature. Looking at the police procedure behind the way things are done. I've purchased myself a copy of Blackstone's Practical Guide to:
- Preventing Terrorism and Violent Extremism
- Blackstone's Counter-Terrorism Handbook
- Blackstone's Police Manuals 2018: Four Volume Set
- PACE: A Practical Guide to the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984
- Covert Investigation
- Blackstone's Police Operational Handbook: Practice And Procedure
And there are more on my to-read list.
My shelves are overflowing with reference books.
I've found these tomes to be incredibly interesting and helpful.
Not only have they helped inform my writing by ensuring it is as accurate as can be, but they've also given me hints and suggestions on how to improve some of the aspects of the stories, and, even given me a few ideas of how to better other stories I haven't written yet.
Sure, they're a long read, but it's all worth it in the end.
I want the Jake Tanner series to be the best version that it can be.
Research is one of the ways that can be done.
Granted, some of the stuff in the upcoming CID Case series isn't going to be 100% accurate, 1) because I've taken creative license and tried to embellish things to suit the needs of the story, and 2) the series is about police corruption, so it makes it easier to bend the rules...
And I can't wait to share the series with you.