This week the Dorset Book Detective speaks to a former real life detective, as I speak to John Rigbey, a retired London CID Officer and recognised authority on London’s gangland of the sixties and seventies. He talks me through his writing style and why he would never consider a collaborative writing project.
How did you come to define your writing style? What drew you towards crime fiction?
John: How can anyone write about things they know nothing about? Many authors make friends with some old copper and pick his brains but I insist on authenticity and would never, ever, attempt to write a store about today’s policing because I do not know much about it – having left the police in 1972 after 18 years – and that is why much of my stuff is based in the era I knew.
Are there any new books or writers that you are looking forward to later in the year?
John: I like John Grisham but don’t read much fiction at all. I read autobiographies and a lot of true crime (not modern) and the causes celebres of the past interest me. I think Harper Lee was overrated and personally believe that much of Mockingbird was written by Truman Capote and in exchange she did a lot of “In Cold Blood”. “Go tell a Whatever it is” is consummate crap – my opinion! In Cold Blood is totally and utterly brilliant and stands alone in UK and US crime writing.
Would you ever collaborate with any writer, living or dead, on a writing project and if so who would it be and why?
John: Absolutely not. I am sure that we would fight like bloody cats (no matter if it was Dickens or JP Rowling) as I am a most disagreeable man, they say. I tried it once, many year ago, and it was a disaster. Comedy scripts and stuff like that are one thing – see the great duos who did the two Ronnies, Eric and Ernie, Dad’s Army etc, but books are very different.
What does the future have in store for you as a writer? Any upcoming projects you would be happy to share with me?
John: I am in my eightieth year and the future is limited. I find non-crime is more enjoyable, see my “A Week on the Island” and “Of Paradise and Pigs.” At the moment I am doing the second draft of a book (working title “Arsenic and Mercy Quint” based on true events in Cornwall in 1930. This will be back with publishers please God in a week or two for final decision as to what they want to do. I am half way through a sort of sequel to “Pigs” – “Of Paradise and Miss Jane Pollitt” and all I need to do is to live long enough.
Thanks very much to John for taking the time to talk to me. To learn more about Jon check out his website HERE.