Bruce Beckham - Gripping Crime Mystery With a Sinister Twist
BRUCE BECKHAM is an award-winning author and copywriter. A resident of Great Britain, he has traveled and worked in over 60 countries. He is published in both fiction and non-fiction and is a member of the UK Society of Authors. His series ‘Inspector Skelgill Investigates’ features the recalcitrant Cumbrian detective Daniel Skelgill, and his loyal lieutenants, long-suffering Londoner DS Leyton, and local high-flyer DS Emma Jones. Set amidst the ancient landscapes of England’s Lake District, this expanding series of standalone murder mysteries have won acclaim across five continents, from Australia to Japan and India, and from Brazil to Canada and the United States of America. As our Author of the Day, Beckham tells us all about his book, Murder Mystery Weekend.
Please give us a short introduction to what Murder Mystery Weekend is about.
An attractive young socialite dies unexpectedly, and when her wealthy entrepreneur husband is implicated in a #MeToo scandal, suspicion falls upon him.
What inspired you to write about a seeming suicide during a Murder Mystery Weekend?
It felt appropriate given the theme, and it adds an extra layer of challenge for the detectives – many murders are disguised as suicides.
Tell us more about DI Skelgill. What makes him tick?
Born and bred amidst the rugged fells of England’s Lake District, he’s a bit of a loner, and unwittingly self-absorbed. Capricious, recalcitrant – not an easy boss to work for! But loyal to his team and driven by a powerful sense of justice.
You have traveled and worked in over 60 countries. How has this influenced your writing?
Frankly, most useful is knowing something about The States – where most of my sales take place. I work with a proofreader from Georgia – she is eagle-eyed and keeps me right with my Americanisms, although I use British spelling – so I would write “travelled”!
How do the books in the series tie in with one another?
They are of course written chronologically, one every six months. At an early stage, I realised that backstories and the aging of characters could be problematic, so neither of these features are prominent. This makes it easier for a reader to dip in if a particular title takes their fancy, and then select others without worrying too much about their order. A bit like Poirot, but not as famous.
Why did you pick a country estate as the backdrop for this story?
I wanted to do a version of ‘A Murder Is Announced’ (Agatha Christie) – because there is this fantastic challenge of the famous ‘locked door mystery’ – just how was it done? Although the book is set in the Lake District, in fact, the building is based on Myers Castle in Fife, Scotland – where my family once experienced a genuine ‘locked door’ haunting – although that’s another story!
Besides writing, what other secret skills do you have?
Oh – I’m a lifelong birdwatcher! I do talks and guided walks at our local nature reserve. Here’s my blog if you’re interested! https://chilloutdoors.tumblr.com
Your book is very descriptive when it comes to scenes, landscapes, fauna, and flora. Why do you take this approach?
My answer to question 7 probably explains this one. Additionally, I love the Lake District and have climbed all its peaks and fished most of its lakes and rivers (and drunk in quite a few of its pubs).
What is the best writing advice you’ve received?
As a junior executive, I was taught to write advertising copy. In this, you are allowed to break the ‘rules’ of grammar – which helps greatly with clarity. To paraphrase a quote on the subject by Sir Walter Scott: the writer should pay heed to the time and patience of the audience.
How much fun do you have coming up with these storylines and characters?
Definitely lots – especially as characters materialise out of thin air! Developing a credible storyline can be a more serious business, and I try to incorporate a contemporary underlying theme.
Do you consider yourself a disciplined writer? Do you have a schedule that you stick to, or is it more in the moment?
Yes. Yes. No. I have to write about 500 words per day. I do these mostly between 6am-7am and then use other time-slots for crafting, editing, and creative development – although the latter is hit and miss!
Do you work to an outline or plot or do you prefer to just see where an idea takes you?
I never know much at the outset. I just let the detectives come upon a crime and leave them to it. I feel like I ‘report’ on what I see happening. Obviously there is an underlying objective to weave suspects into a mystery that the reader might be able to solve – but I rarely know the outcome before halfway.
What are you working on right now?
The next in the Skelgill series. Book 15. It’s got something of a ‘Lady Chatterley’ theme!
Where can our readers discover more of your work or interact with you?
My books are sold exclusively through Amazon. The best way to get in touch is via my author page on Goodreads, and there is also a publishing email address: [email protected]