I have a very special post today from the wonderful Malcolm Hollingdrake as part of the blog tour for his latest novel, Crossed Out.
Bloodhound Books (28 Jan. 2018)
DCI Bennett and his team are back and called to a house in Ripon that has collapsed into a sinkhole where a body is discovered.
Soon old weathered Remembrance Crosses are found dug up. Each one numbered.
DC April Richmond is assigned to help the team due to her impressive biblical knowledge and soon makes a startling discovery.
Meanwhile, Gideon Fletcher is walking around the streets of Harrogate distributing religious texts. Is there a link between Gideon and the crosses? Do the crosses have anything to do with the body in the house?
Bennett and the team find themselves wondering if the killer is exacting revenge or punishment and whatever the answer, they soon realise the clock is ticking.
Over to you, Malcolm …
I’m often asked where my ideas and storylines come from. The simple answer is, I don’t really know. They just seem to grow as I write. What I do try to do is make each book different as well as being original.
One of the joys of writing the DCI Cyril Bennett Crime Series has been the opportunity to develop the characters. As a relatively new writer, this is the first series I’ve tackled and I am finding it a joy. Not only can I develop stories around one of my favourite geographical areas, North Yorkshire, but also I can make people come alive … a modern day Shelley … I don’t, however, like Mary, build my characters from body parts.
Firstly, I never believed in my wildest dreams that the series would become so popular and secondly, I certainly never expected to be signed to a seven-book deal with Bloodhound Books, but I’m grateful these things have happened.
When I wrote the first Bennett book I had no idea how he would develop; I had no long-term strategy, I simply wrote the book. When writing books two and three, however, things started to work and I found myself living inside the characters I had created, allowing their history, their personality and their DNA to come to the surface book by book. It reminded me of going through a family album and discovering a hidden past.
Now when I write, I have a greater understanding of each character and I can manipulate and mould them within each storyline, opening doors to allow readers to discover snippets of their past, to see how they have become the people they are today. For this to happen the author has to believe truly in the characters. When one character was removed from the series, it took a great deal of soul-searching before the decision was made. It was neither easy nor pleasant, more like losing a member of the family but I feel it was essential in order to strip away another layer of those that remained.
Developing the two lead characters, DCI Cyril Bennett and DS David Owen has been great fun. Their contrasting personalities and outlook on life make a treasure trove from which to manipulate scenes and dialogue that I hope readers find amusing, yet at the same time, enchanting.
On his own, Cyril Bennett is a character of hidden depth. Until book six we don’t know if he’s actually a Yorkshireman, in fact we know little of his past and what we do know has been fed only slowly throughout the series. Within Crossed Out, however, more is revealed as Cyril receives a letter… another doorway maybe to his past … sealed and private or possibly a Pandora’s box?
Cyril turned off the computer and moved to a more comfortable chair at the far side of his office. He removed an envelope from his jacket pocket. It had been there since he had collected it from the mat on arriving home the previous day. His stomach fluttered as he brought the envelope up to his nose and sniffed gently like a sommelier with a classic wine trapped within the tastevin. He ran his fingers over the dark blue, handwritten script clearly stating that the letter was addressed to a Mr C V Bennett. The handwriting was beautiful, almost copperplate in style. Care had clearly been taken in the presentation, even the stamp was placed perfectly. He brought out a magnifying glass from the top drawer to look more carefully at the postmark. It was a smudge, impossible to decipher. His index finger was drawn back to the letter ‘V’. The fluttering in the pit of his stomach now churned, an amalgam of uncertainty, anxiety and anticipation.
A taster, hopefully the Bennett fans will be eager to take the letter opener and slice through the envelope before slowly unfolding the letter. (Receiving letters was always so exciting. It is a pity we don’t write letters any more!)
Does Bennett exist? Is he someone I know? No but there is a little of me in all of the characters and there is certainly a bit of my wife in Julie. With years in teaching I have met many characters and from these I draw inspiration. I am also a keen people watcher. I study the way they move and behave and note down their key phrases and sayings.
I am now preparing book seven in the series and looking forward to moving the characters forward whilst introducing a new one. If you read book six you will know a little more about Bennett and his past and hopefully your relationship with the character will grow. If I have done my job well, you will feel as though he is real, someone you know and hopefully someone you would like and enjoy meeting but most of all, someone you are comfortable to share your time with.
I love hearing about author’s inspirations and I just know that if you haven’t already enjoyed any of the books in this series, you need to get involved! Here’s the link to Crossed Out:
About the author …
You could say that the writing was clearly written on the wall for anyone born in a library that they might aspire to be an author but to get to that point Malcolm Hollingdrake has travelled a circuitous route. Malcolm worked in education for many years, even teaching for a period in Cairo before he started writing, a challenge he had longed to tackle for more years than he cares to remember.
Malcolm has written a number of successful short stories and has seven books now available as well as Only The Dead and Hell's Gate also being available in Audio.
Presently he is concentrating on a series of crime novels set in Harrogate, North Yorkshire. Born in Bradford and spending three years in Ripon, Malcolm has never lost his love for his home county, a passion that is reflected in the settings for all three novels.
Malcolm has enjoyed many hobbies including collecting works by Northern artists; the art auctions offer a degree of excitement when both buying and certainly when selling. It’s a hobby he has bestowed on DCI Cyril Bennett, the main character in his latest novel.