Hello and welcome to my blog, Author Interviews. My name is Fiona Mcvie.
Let’s get you introduced to everyone, shall we? Tell us your name. What is your age?
My name is Stephen Bentley and I am 70-years young.
Fiona: Where are you from?
From the UK but I have lived in the Philippines for the past 3 years.
Fiona: A little about your self (ie, your education, family life, etc.).
I’m a former UK Detective Sergeant, once worked undercover for 2 years, then I qualified as a barrister, or trial attorney as our American friends say. I practised mainly criminal law defending in all kinds of cases from burglary to murder.
I also spent a number of years in sales management; driven big trucks; been a London motorcycle courier; hospital porter; and operated plant machinery for 2 years with Thames Water before I retired from work.
I was educated in the old grammar school system on Merseyside but graduated in law when I was in my early 50’s. Did a post-grad course at the Inns of Court School of Law in London to qualify as a barrister.
Divorced more than once and now happily married, hopefully for the last time J
Fiona: Tell us your latest news.
The narrator of the audiobook of my true crime memoir just contacted me to tell me it ought to be finished by the end of January 2018. Hopefully, the audiobook will be available from March onwards.
Fiona: When and why did you begin writing?
I started to write my memoir many years ago but kept putting it away. I wasn’t ready to write it, I guess. But in retirement I found the time and space to write it.
Fiona: When did you first consider yourself a writer?
I don’t. I’m still learning the craft.
Fiona: What inspired you to write your first book?
Two things. First, it was good practice for writing and publishing my memoir. Second, it was inspired by the truly atrocious driving I found here in the Philippines city I live in.
Fiona: How did you come up with the title?
How To Drive Like An Idiot In Bacolod: An Expat’s Experiences of Driving in the Philippines and How To Survive is both long winded and self-explanatory, don’t you think?
Fiona: Do you have a specific writing style? Is there anything about your style or genre that you find particularly challenging?
I think I do have a writing style. Reviewers have said they feel like they are perched on my shoulder when reading. So, maybe intimate? I hope so as I want readers to “feel and see” the story not just read the text.
The second question involves an explanation. I have now written three books one of which I have mentioned – the driving in the Philippines book.
Then came the memoir. A non-fiction book about my exploits undercover on the UK’s largest drug bust.
The third is the first in a trilogy of fictional books featuring Steve Regan an undercover cop.
Now I am writing Book Two in the Steve Regan series. This is where I find it challenging. Undercover work by its nature can be slow. There is a lot of waiting. It takes time to infiltrate a community to get close to the “bad guys.” Readers don’t want waiting. They don’t want the boring stuff. They want action.
The challenge is writing so as not to bore the pants off the reader but at the same time to convey what makes a good undercover cop. It gets tricky!
Fiona: How much of the book is realistic and are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life?
I will answer this question in the context of my crime fiction books – the Steve Regan Undercover Cop Series for obvious reasons – both my Philippines and the true crime memoir are non-fiction.
The fiction is based on my own experiences when I was undercover. Indeed, the first in the series was based on two characters I met in reality whilst undercover.
Fiona: To craft your works, do you have to travel? Before or during the process?
Fiction again – I would say I did not have to travel to write the fiction books but it helped a great deal that I have travelled extensively. For example, in Book One I write about a near-drowning scene in Miami. It helped that I have been there and the same for Book Two which is largely set in Thailand. I spent two years in that country.
Fiona: Who designed the covers?
The delightful Anna from annoulacovers.com.
Fiona: Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
Yes. Undercover cops work in a dangerous environment. They use duplicity as their main stock-in-trade. The work can cause identity confusion. I would like the readers to grasp that and empathise with the predicament.
Fiona: Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest? Who is your favorite writer, and what is it about their work that really strikes you?
I have always been a reader but since retirement and starting a writing career, I have become an avid reader.
I have caught up on an old favourite of mine – Ed Mcbain and the 87th Precinct series. I have also started to read Lee Child and the Jack Reacher books.
One of my most recent favourite reads was A Criminal Defense by William L Myers Jr. I would say he is my favourite writer at present. I love the plots and the courtroom scenes. He is a practising lawyer and it shows. He is good.
Fiona: Outside of family members, name one entity that supported your commitment to become a published author.
Difficult. I would have to say BooksGoSocial the authors’ Facebook Group. I find the members and the group highly supportive.
Fiona: Do you see writing as a career?
No. Not enough money and I have had more careers than you can shake a stick at. I don’t need another one.
Fiona: If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?
Yes. Book One of Steve Regan Undercover Cop starts off too slowly. I would change that even though it was done for a reason.
Fiona: Did you learn anything during the writing of your recent book?
Give the readers a hook immediately. Make them curious.
Fiona: If your book was made into a film, who would you like to play the lead?
A younger Clint Eastwood with a British accent.
Fiona: Any advice for other writers?
The more you write, the better it gets.
Fiona: Anything specific you want to tell your readers?
A big thank you to all who have read my books and a special thank you to those who left a review.
Fiona: What book are you reading now?
Die Trying, Jack Reacher Book #2 by Lee Childs.
Fiona: Do you remember the first book you read?
Probably Gullivers Travels by Jonathan Swift.
Fiona: What makes you laugh/cry?
Toilet humour. Thinking of special people, special moments, and they are no longer living.
Fiona: Is there one person, past or present, you would love to meet? Why?
My paternal grandfather. I only met him once. Something clearly happened between him and my father. I would love to know what.
Fiona: Do you have any hobbies?
I potter in my garden, and I mean potter. I love to see things grow.
Fiona: What TV shows/films do you enjoy watching?
I rarely watch TV these days but occasionally go to the cinema. One of my all-time favourite TV shows was The Wire. Last film I saw was Dunkirk. Okay but nothing more than that.
Fiona: Favorite foods, colors, music?
Curries, ice cream, red, blues.
Fiona: Imagine a future where you no longer write. What would you do?
Be a rock star.
Fiona: What do you want written on your head stone?
Fiona: Do you have a blog or website readers can visit for updates, events and special offers?
You may connect with me here:
Amazon Author Page https://www.amazon.co.uk/Stephen-Bentley/e/B01CNPG7K6/
Facebook Author Page https://www.facebook.com/stephenbentley47/
Look out for a special offer announcement on the forthcoming audiobook!
Preview of Undercover: Operation Julie – The Inside Story, an Amazon bestseller
A portion of all my book sales royalties are to be donated to the Jamie Bulger Memorial Trust, a UK Registered Charity. Please consider donating even if you never buy my books.