Doing the Research – by Helen Bridgett

I was so excited when I heard the next book in the Professor Maxie Reddick series was due this autumn. Helen must have done so much research for One by One and I wanted to know more about her process…

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Many moons ago, I started off my working life in market research and I loved it. I loved finding out what people thought, how different groups could view the same incident, advert or product in completely different ways and how we could use this information to nudge and influence their behaviour.

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A love of finding out the facts has stayed with me through university and beyond so it’s probably not surprising to hear that when I started writing novels, I simply loved doing the research. Probably too much – as at certain times when I’m really engrossed in a subject, it’s easy to forget that I also have to hit my word count for the day!

For me the research starts with my characters and for the Professor Reddick Series – the most important person to get right is obviously Maxie herself. I had a very strong sense of who Maxie would be – appearance wise, she’s actually based on an old choir teacher of mine. She was a large squat woman with the most incredibly wicked sense of humour. She was confident, funny and wore swathes of fabric – tunics, capes, shawls – all the time. I loved that she was absolutely herself and decided this was how Maxie would be.

Picture4I worked out how old Maxie needed to be to achieve her professorship and from that began researching the events that would have taken place in her lifetime. I love this part and particularly love finding out what music would have been popular when my characters were having their 18th birthday or the first dance at their wedding. I also like to walk down streets that are similar to where they live at different times of the day. You often don’t use these facts but they help to shape the person you’re developing making them more believable.

 

Of course, when you’re writing crime, it’s important to get the facts around the incident and the Picture3investigation right and that takes a great deal of research. I was actually inspired to write this series when the annual police statistics were published – these show how many crimes result in conviction and how those numbers vary by police forces across the country. The numbers were shocking – conviction rates were at an all-time low and in particular – figures for any form of sexual assault were appalling. I knew this would be the type of information my character would be outraged by.

 

Equally important, my research told me that unless the victim reports the crime themselves, the police can’t investigate – which gives a reason for Maxie to get involved.

I don’t write police procedurals but Maxie Reddick a professor of Criminology and this is a something that I have never studied. As well as getting some books on the subject, I also read academic papers from Universities around the world – they are extremely useful. They’ll tell you what the hot topics are in Criminology and how the research is conducted.

Picture2And then there are some downright weird things that many writers do when it comes to research and that can involve acting things out. I’ve asked for my hands to be tied behind my back so I can see what it feels like and I’ve lain on the concrete floor of the garage to see how long it takes for my body to go numb! All in the name of research!

Finally – I just wanted to say a word about Google – if you’re ever using the laptop of a crime writer, don’t get worried when you see their search history “How to murder my friend and get away with it” – is simply all part of the job! And believe me, we know very many ways!

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UntitledA young woman has gone missing. It’s nearly Christmas. Why does hardly anyone seem to care?

Kelly Ingles should have been a case to tug on the public’s heartstrings: a young woman who’s gone missing in the run-up to Christmas.

But Kelly wasn’t perfect – she liked to party, enjoyed a drink, didn’t always make the best decisions. And when evidence of her drunken antics appears online, it becomes clear that Kelly might not just have been in the wrong place at the wrong time; she might also be the wrong sort of girl to encourage public sympathy.

It’s a case that’s right up Maxie Reddick’s street. As a criminology professor, she’s made it her mission to challenge unconscious biases within the criminal justice system – the sort of biases that cause girls like Kelly to slip through the cracks.

But can she get the police and public on board before it’s too late?

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You can keep up with all things Helen Bridgett related

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Check out both my previous posts with Helen. Meet the Family and Which Books

 

Which Books…

Which Books…

I am starting a new blog series called which books…

My first guest will be my fellow debut Helen Bridgett whose second book will be out tomorrow!

So here we go…

Which book do you wish you’d written. profile pic HB

Oh – any book that has sold millions then has been adapted for TV and film! It would be lovely to develop something that appealed to so many people and of course the money would come in very handy!

Which book cover have you looked at and gone that’s amazing.

I did like the red tipped pages of The Seven Lives of Evelyn Hardcastle – couldn’t stop stroking them!!

Which book character/s would you protect from the world.

I always wanted to know that Mouse from The Tales of the City series was okay and I’m currently reading Where The Crawdads Sing so I’d like to protect Kya – I don’t know what happens to her yet.

Which was the last book that broke your heart.

The only one I remember breaking my heart was Germinal by Emile Zola – it’s a pretty bleak depiction of 19th century France and the plight of the working classes. Not a cheery read by any stretch of the imagination!

Which book would you make children read.

As I loved Enid Blyton I’d say her books and The Wishing Chair and Faraway Tree are fabulous for young imaginations.

Which book would you rewrite in a different genre.

That’s a really difficult question! How about the Bridgerton series as Sci-Fi where all the handsome Dukes are actually aliens!

If you could write any genre which one would it be.

I’ve written both Rom-Com and psychological thriller now and over the course of 2021, I’ll be releasing more books in these genres. However – historical fiction does appeal as I do enjoy researching my novels so perhaps I’ll look into that.

If you could redesign any book cover which one would you choose.

I’m really not a designer so will have to pass on this one. I do know that covers are so important in attracting readers so the designers have a really important job and I applaud their skills.

Which book taught you the largest lesson about life.

There’s a line from a Barbara Kingsolver book that always sticks in my mind  

“It’s the one thing we never quite get over. That we contain our own future.” 

I think it might be from Flight Behaviour. I love her books and this stood out.

Which three books would you take on holiday in 2021.

Oh gosh – I am hoping that a holiday will be possible soon but can’t guess which books I’ll take until I know where or when we’ll be going!  Will it be something sunny or Christmassy? Who knows? Meanwhile, I’ll stick to my reading corner at home and pretend I’m on holiday – I just need to mix a cocktail for the full effect!

516iJL3c4rLWhen practising what you preach is easier said than done …

Professor Maxie Reddick has her reasons for being sceptical of traditional policing methods, but, in between her criminology lecturing job and her Criminal Thoughts podcast, she stays firmly on the side lines of the crime solving world.

Then a young woman is brutally attacked, and suddenly it’s essential that Maxie turns her words into actions; this is no longer an academic exercise – this is somebody’s life.

But as she delves deeper, the case takes a sickening turn, which leads Maxie to the horrifying realisation that the attack might not have been a one-off. It seems there’s a depraved individual out there seeking revenge, and they’ll stop at nothing to get it … little by little … one by one

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You can keep up with all things Helen Bridgett related

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Check out my Meet The Family post with Helen HERE!

 

Meet The Family – Helen Bridgett

Meet The Family – Helen Bridgett

 

Helen like myself is a debut author and her novel Summer at Serenity Bay is being released tomorrow.

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Hi Helen and welcome to my blog “A Story About A Girl” I was so excited to get to sit down with you again now your debut is closer to be released!  I can’t wait to here what you have instore for us.

 

What inspired you to write “Summer at Serenity Bay?”

First of all, I’ve recently moved back to the North-East of England and I’m rediscovering all the fabulous beaches we have up here. They really are the best in the world! image-1

Also – I love being outdoors and do believe that a simple walk along the coast can cure most ills. I wanted to write something that expressed my love of these two elements and of course I always aim to put a smile on readers’ faces!

What made you decide to submit with Ruby fiction?

I took the advice of the writing community! I asked other authors to recommend publishers and Ruby Fiction were strongly recommended. I love that their books are selected by a panel and it has been fabulous working with the team.

If you could go back to when you first started writing what one piece advice would you give yourself?

I probably wouldn’t listen to any advice I gave myself!

However, I would say to all new writers – reach out to the writing community. Everyone has been there before – we’ve had the same concerns, faced the same issues – ask someone and they will help you. I’ve found other authors incredibly supportive.

If you weren’t writing what would you be doing?

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I really don’t know. Even between books I get twitchy.  I like to think I’d spend more time hiking and perhaps I’d find another creative outlet like photography but I’m slightly addicted to writing at the moment!

How did you deal with rejections when you started out?

To begin with you take it on the chin – everyone is rejected when they start out and you’re kind of prepared for that. However, after a time it does get you down. The best advice I can give is to walk away from the submissions process for a while, then re-look at your synopsis, first few chapters and submission letter. Are they the best they can be? Re-write and get back on the horse!

What would you say to someone who wants to write?

Just do it. There are many forms of written word and you it poetry, short stories or perhaps scripts. To complete a novel means sitting down at your pc every day – every day and writing. Hitting that word count, plotting the story, revealing your characters and entertaining readers. It’s not an easy task and you have to really want to do it. I would say, however, that it’s a fabulous feeling when you complete your first novel.

Do you have any writing routines or rituals if so what are they?

I try to fit in some exercise during the day otherwise you end up with really stiff people-2573216_640shoulders and an aching back. So I walk the dog, write for a couple of hours then do some pilates and another couple of hours writing. I like to set myself a word count for the day and I also leave the manuscript in a place that’s easy to pick up the next day – so, for example, I’ll write the first line of the next chapter before finishing. You spend all night thinking about it so the words flow when you open the pc the following day!

Which authors inspired you to write?

This is always a tough question to answer because I read all genres. Like many people I began with Enid Blyton and she was the first author to transport me to other places through the Faraway Tree, The Wishing Chair and even Mallory Towers – so I’ll say Enid was the very first inspiration.

Who would you want to play the main characters in your book if your novel was optioned for tv / film?

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Ooh – Andy could be played by Chris Hemsworth, Chloe by Lily Collins, Roisin by Jessie Buckley and Heather by Dame Judi Dench. I hope they’d get on!

Claire – Chris seems to be a very popular choice with the ladies of Choclit and Ruby Fiction

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What can we expect to see from you in the future?

Well first of all I hope that readers enjoy Serenity Bay but later this year I have two short stories appearing in anthologies. Next year I’ll be releasing my first crime novel with Ruby Fiction.

More About Helen

Helen Bridgett lives in the North East of England. Outside of writing feel good fiction, Helen loves the great outdoors and having a good laugh with friends over a glass of wine. Helen lives with her husband and their chocolate Labrador, Angus; all three can often be found walking the Northumberland coastline that inspired Serenity Bay.

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Escape to Serenity Bay this summer with this fabulous funny, uplifting read.

What happens when you send a group of celebrities to a tiny seaside village? Advertising executive Chloe Walsh thought she was visiting her friend Roisin to get away from it all, but little does she know her kooky friend has a master plan to breathe some life into her sleepy seaside village through a new wellness retreat – and she needs Chloe’s skills.

So starts a community effort to put the retreat, Serenity Bay, on the map. Everyone from Andy at the Surf Shack to Tony at the chocolate shop is involved – even Roisin’s Gran has a few ideas! But Chloe strikes gold almost too soon, attracting the attention of a major production company. Now a colourful group of celebrities are preparing to descend on Serenity Bay to film a reality TV show. Is the village ready for the fun and scandal that are bound to follow

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Get your copy here

 

I caught up with Helen as part of the ChcoLit festival, see our video chat HERE!