BOB and Carol Bridgestock admit that they never set out to be a novelists. But their combined talents are now bringing them appreciative audiences the world over.
Writing under the name of RC Bridgestock, they are now into book five of their crime series with readers waiting eagerly for every next chapter.
Their books have become an overnight sensation with critics lauding them as “probably the most exciting crime writers today in Europe.”
So how exactly did Bob, a retired detective with West Yorkshire Police, and Carol, a retired support worker with the force, make the transition from their original day jobs?
Well it all started with a move from Halifax to the Isle of Wight, settling down to a more peaceful way of life - far removed from murders, rapes, burglaries and other serious crimes that had been their lives for three decades in the case of Bob and more than 15 years in the case of Carol.
“Bob had always been a good story-teller,” says Carol. “When he speaks people love to listen and he can have people in laughter at his stories as well as in tears.”
But she admits no-one was more surprised than her when he enrolled them both on a writing course.
“People had kept saying to him, ‘you should write a book’ but he always said that wasn’t for him,” she says.
“Well I wasn’t sure I wanted to write my autobiography. Not yet anyway,” adds Bob.
“But I must admit, once I did start to sit down and write the stories then they did come flooding out. I like to sit down bash it all out and not stop until I’ve finished. I obviously write as I talk. Fast. In the first six weeks of writing, I’d produced 120,000 words,” he jokes.
Soon the couple found they had a winning formula.
“Bob bashes out the story-line and the structure at a furious pace, that’s the framework done. Then I go through it and ask him about the emotional side, build the characters and fill in the colour,” says Carol.
“Yes and change all the names,” adds Bob, laughing.
Bob will be a familiar face to many who remember him from his Halifax days as the detective superintendent in charge of some of the area’s most serious and high-profile cases, including the murder of Kevin Jackson in Copley in 2001, the murder of electrician Brian Hardwick and the fatal arson attack that killed a family of six in their home at Birkby, Huddersfield.
In the last three years of his career alone he dealt with 26 murders and 23 major incidents including shootings and attempted murders.
But he is careful that none of these crimes are used as a story-line for the books.
“The story and characters are inspired by real life events and real life people but we have been careful to make lots of changes so that no-one would recognise a case or a person,” he says.
The first book, Deadly Focus had as its central them the abduction of a young girl and it introduced to its readers, the character Jack Dylan, a senior investigating officer “loosely based” on Bob and his partner Jen, who is partly based on Carol - as well as the town of Harrowfield (“neither Halifax nor Huddersfield but somewhere in Yorkshire.”)
It was an immediate run-away success and brought them to the attention of publisher, Darren Laws at Caffeine Nights, who straight away spotted the couple’s potential as writers of gripping crime novels.
Consequences - which sees Dylan with two unconnected murders to solve, as well as a missing detective to locate - is the follow-up and Bob and Carol have been busy promoting it with a book-signing tour of Yorkshire.
“It’s been wonderful because so many people have come along to tell us how much they are enjoying the books,” says Carol. “We’ve seen lots of old faces too which has been lovely.”
Book three, is with the publisher, book four is about to go to the publisher and the couple are 34 chapters into book five.
“We secured a deal for five books but we are sure there are more in us,” says Carol.
“In a way it feels like a kind of legacy. Bob has always been modest about his achievements and the part he played in his career as a police officer but I wanted the children to know just exactly what their dad did.”
The prospect of the books coming to the screen is also something which not surprisingly, thrills the couple. They have been in talks with television screenwriters and producers and although the project is in the early stages, there’s a real possibility that we could see DI Dylan on the box in the future.
“That would be fantastic,” says Carol, who adds that the books are also available on Kindle and selling well. “We hope there are lots more crimes for Dylan to solve yet,” she says.
That will be a sentiment the legions of RC Bridgestock fans will no doubt endorse.
l Consequences by RC Bridgestock is available at Fred Wade, Halifax as well as on Kindle.